I grew up in a small town surrounded by farms. On Saturdays farmers brought their eggs, chickens, fruits and vegetables into town to be sold. Included in my mom’s purchases from the farmers were bushels of corn. My sister and I loved corn on the cob. As kids we would eat so many ears of corn that we would be miserable. Although our mom did not prevent us from overstuffing ourselves, she would ask us if we really wanted another ear. The questions should have been, ‘”Did we need another ear?” Aaaah, but the corn was so delicious. Why stop?

While visiting a family, we sat in the kitchen as usual. My friend’s husband came into the kitchen, went to the refrigerator and heaped food on his plate. “Michael,” I said, “Be careful. Your shoes are untied.” “I’ll be all right,” he replied. When Michael left the kitchen with his heaping plate of food, his daughter told me, “Dad has gained so much weight he can’t bend over and tie his shoes any more.”

We laughed, but it was not really funny. Not being able to bend over and tie one’s shoes because one is too fat raises all kinds of flags for real or potential health problems. Food, food, more food. Got to keep that stomach up.

A couple of my coworkers and I went to a Chinese restaurant. Both of my coworkers have high blood pressure. I do not. My coworkers grabbed the soy sauce and started pouring it all over their food. “Hey,” I said. “I thought you told me you had high blood pressure. Why are you using that salty soy sauce? The food is salty enough.” The two looked at each other, laughed and kept pouring. One of them said, “It tastes better with soy sauce. Why don’t you have some?” Grrrrrr. My pressure is rising.

I was on a lunch break during a conference: We were encouraged to sit with people we did not know. After finishing several of the main entrees, one of the women at my table went over to the dessert tables and returned with a heaping plate of desserts. “I know I shouldn’t eat all of this with my diabetes,” she said. “Then why are you?” I asked. She gave me a this-is-none-of-your-business look and rolled her eyes. I wondered why she had bothered to tell me she was diabetic, since I did not know her and would not have known she had diabetes. Hmmmm. If nothing else, she gave me second thoughts about getting any dessert.

Need I say that I am also abusive when it comes to eating? (“Before healing others, heal yourself.” – The Gambia) Too often, I stuff myself at a restaurant, using the excuse that there are not enough leftovers to take home in a doggie bag. And of course I can hear my mom’s constant reminder of “all the starving children in the world” as another reason to eat all my food. Any excuse will do.

Well, now that I’ve chopped away at recreational eating and, I hope, inspired all of us to eat more sensibly, “Bon appétit.”

Peggy Tarr

Peggy Tarr has been a columnist for the Evanston RoundTable since its founding in 1998. Born in Bruce Springsteen's hometown of Freehold, New Jersey, she graduated from Rutgers University with a degree...