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Saturday, February 2, 2008

On Zen and Eating Too Much Delicious Food

Madison Square Park
Photo by myself, of Madison Square Park, in the Flatiron District at 23rd and Fifth Avenue.

You can see the Empire State Building in the background.


Today Mark and I drove into the city and stuffed ourselves with Ethiopean food until we hurt ourselves. My stomach was just a big ball of delicious pancake and sauces.

I have to wonder whether I'd eat less if I didn't have such good food options around me. A coworker, for instance, started fasting to prepare for her upcoming wedding. She planned on drinking only a mixture of cayenne pepper, maple syrup, lemon juice and water for two weeks. Needless to say, she stopped the fast on the second day because it tasted so terrible.

I can and will eat tremendous amounts of food, especially during times when I feel deprived of other things.

'I'm working hard, so I deserve to cram my stomach with this delicious savory pancake and curry,' my brain reasons.

Or, 'I'm traveling next week, therefore I deserve this organic dark chocolate bar with mint and a hint of rosemary. It has anti-oxidants!'

New Yorkers have a tendency to overindulge. We work hard and play hard. This reminds me of a story I read in a Zen book about 'hungry ghosts', people who have insatiable needs. These 'ghosts' fail to fully appreciate what they already have, so they stuff themselves with indulgences - food, drink, fancy belongings...anything exterior to themselves that might constitute a form of 'happiness'.

Zen, on the other hand, is fully internal. It's all about appreciating what one already has. I love the philosophy: you are never lacking. Even your 'faults' are necessary to one's personality.

I'll have to bring my Zen book with me on my trip this week. Every time I'm tempted to reward myself with delicious plates of (free) food, I'll have to think: 'I'm okay as I am. Enough, already!'


Tammy said...

We don't get many different types of food here. It must be so cool to have so many different cultures there. Have you ever had poutine? It's a Canadian specialty. I love it!

Kitty said...

Interesting, Tammy!

I will have to try it. I am rather ignorant about Canada. It's looks beautiful and fun.

Mark and I have been toying with visiting Montreal and/or Toronto for a very long weekend.

Spandrel Studios said...

Kitty, your day o' food sounds delicious! And hey, at least you've got a fantastic array of food choices at your disposal.

I'm amazed that someone would fast before her wedding. Everyone I know - even me, a stress-eater - has lost at least a little weight before the big day. (And that concoction your coworker was drinking - yikes!)

Hope the business trip is smooth sailing, and that you enjoy the visit with your family!

Kitty said...

thanks, Spandrel!

I'll be checking in all the time. I'm sure I'll be very tired, but there ain't much to do on these trips at night.

I dunno what the coworker was thinking. Sounds dangerous, like you could pass out on the subway!

Anonymous said...

ooh I thought you had gone away.

I am a terrible sampler. I just have to try things. So if I am somewhere new I am always buying things from little stalls. I never eat much but I just have to try them out!

Kitty said...

nope, still here, RB!

I think your nibbling way is the healthiest. Beats eating like a cow, lol.

penpusher said...

I love this post!

I need to get my hands on that Zen book you're talking about. I'm guessing my current food poisoning is the result of overindulgence. :(

Kitty said...

Hi Penpusher!

The book is wonderful. I highly recommend it.
It's called 'Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master's Lessons in Living a Life That Matters' by Bernard Glassman.

Glassman started a Zen bakery in the Bronx or Harlem, after a life as a corporate person.

Sorry you had food poisoning. That's terrible!!!