June 13, 2021
She wakes up in the middle of the night, hungry again. She kicks back the sheet and stumbles her way to the fridge for a peek at the late-night options. Her belly rumblin’ kicks up a notch as she opens the door and the bright, promising light of the chilled and edible innerworld spills out into the darkened kitchen.
The stark cold reality of her boyfriend’s fridge contents is in full view. She pokes her head in with trepidation.
Let’s see, what do we have here?
She spies a jar of garlic dill pickles, and makes a mental note. (Fridge inventory must be surveyed in full before honing in on one source of sustenance). Garlic isn’t so wise in the middle of the night; acid reflux and noxious breath have a way of interfering with sexy times. (Forethought becomes more critical once you’re in your 30s after all, especially where food and romance are concerned).
What’s next? Her eyes survey the scene.
Commercial milk… not bad, not great. A bit hormone-heavy for her taste. And it’s strawberry infused anyway, not really her style. And why is there a cat on the label? This marketing mix up confuses her.
A ragged brown paper bag splotched with grease sits on the top shelf, forgotten about. She pries it open and sees the carcass of her boyfriend’s leftover dinner: a few limp French fries and a half eaten fast-food hamburger with brown-tinted lettuce peeking out its edges and a sad little tomato slice threatening to slide out.
Not a candidate.
Others? A bag of jujubes. Chocolate confectionary. An entire gamut of bottled sauces in shades meant only for a showgirl’s shoes. So where the heck is the salad, then? She thinks.
She pulls open the crisper, hoping to find something a little closer to edible. Instead she finds neglected processed cheese slices, slimy ham gone ashen, white bread. Was that supposed to make a sandwich last Tuesday? She questions no one in particular.
She wonders: Am I still asleep caught up in a nightmare-ish dream about my boyfriend’s food preferences?
A dozen or so low-budget beers are lined up like aluminum soldiers on the middle shelf, obviously the favored items.
Her eyes scan the bottom shelf where lies a brown cardboard box that’s seen better days, like maybe two weeks ago. She pushes the top up and peers inside at one-third of a pizza pie. It might have been viable but for the clumps of coagulated mayo concealing the toppings (what is it with mayo atop every otherwise edible snack these days?).
She silently tucks away the thought that food incompatibilities could be a relationship deal-breaker.
Days-old pizza is a sordid snack. Come to think of it, so are those jars he’s got lined up in that glass-door cupboard next to the fridge. A throng of spreads, whatever those are. Something called Goober. Peanut spread swirled with a violent shade of grape jelly. What the…? Who thought up that name? Who wants to eat anything called Goober?
She consults the ingredients list, which takes up two-thirds the entire label. There’s barely enough room for branding, for peanut’s sake. The only ingredient she recognizes out of the 23 listed is peanuts. Well, it’s got that much going for it. And one point for functionality: PB & J cohabitating in one jar, however dodgy, certainly is convenient for the mid-century housewife, or the 2021 wanna-be bachelor.
And she thinks through her sympathetic, mildly concerned heart:
Is this what my poor boyfriend subjects himself to every day? I mean, I get the hamburger and pizza and even the beer––occasionally. But the neon sauces and this 1982 gunk in a jar?
I’d like to take a moment to reflect on this scene. It’s of the true-crime variety, if we can call this type of refrigerator inventory a crime (some would––I do). My friend witnessed this scene of horror in her new boyfriend’s kitchen and feared the worst.
Are poor food habits a deal breaker in a relationship? They don’t have to be, of course. But your intestinal bacteria may have other plans.
That adage you are what you eat is true, but it’s not accurate enough for my liking. I mean, physiologically, our body tissue is made up of the food we consume, which pretty much makes me hunk of brie and my boyfriend a plate of chicken and potatoes (minus the plate and the bones).
But there’s more to it than that.
To consider physical health as the shining star of our wellbeing is a pretty common misconception. As long as we’re fit and free of disease, all is hunky dory, right? Not exactly. Maybe not even close.
I know plenty of slim, trim people––the epitome of good health––who are miserable. The term Skinny Bitch didn’t just spring out of nowhere, after all (but in the same vein, “big-boned” ain’t really a thing––have you ever seen a fat skeleton?).
It’s not just about consuming enough, though. When we don’t consume effective, wholesome, mineral-rich, natural nutrients––ones that give us the most bang for our buck, so to speak––our brain slowly begins to object, via that secondary information channel in the gut called the enteric nervous system, which controls digestion.
That’s because the food we eat, along with other environmental factors, affects our gut bacteria, which, according to researchers Anderson, Cryan & Dinan in their book, The Psychobiotic Revolution: Mood, Food, and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection, in turn affects our psychological well-being, courtesy of the gut-brain connection.
Digging deeper, we discover that the harmful bacteria produced in the gut from dubious foods such as neon-pigmented salad dressings may actually trigger mental pathologies like depression, anxiety, ADHD, and even compulsive behaviours (obsessive crypto-mining anyone?).
A more accurate adage goes like this: you act what you eat. And I don’t know about you, but I prefer to be not just fit and healthy in body, but also in mind.
So that Goober spread stuff? Can she swap it out for a homemade, all-natural almond butter? Will her boyfriend know the difference? Hopefully!
If you want some of that honest to goodness peanut butter (read: not spread, though it does spread nicely), made from 100% natural peanuts, hit me up. I make it fresh every day and deliver it pronto.
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