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Freedom From or Freedom To With Food

There’s a great scene in the Handmaid’s Tale that I always paraded out for my students where Aunt Lydia talks about the concept of freedom from and freedom to.  As a society, Americans obviously put a high value on “freedom to” ideas — freedom to say what we want to say, freedom to choose our leader.  But Lydia reminds the women that there is also value in the freedom froms.  Freedom from being raped, freedom from being… well… a lot of the other freedom froms that I’m coming up with are covertly practiced in Gilead so forget examples.

But the point is that we put a lot of value on the idea of trying new foods; that much is clear from the comments on the last few posts.  And I guess there is a little Aunt Lydia in me because I also see the value in the freedom from being asked to eat foods.

When it comes to restrictions, I would much rather have someone tell me that I could never eat something I love again (take away my freedom to eat) than tell me that I have to eat something I don’t want to eat just for the sake of saving someone’s feelings or for their idea of nutrition (freedom from having to eat things).  I am obviously very focused on social behaviour and how I comport myself, but I also like to surround myself with people who are open-minded and accepting.  I’m lucky that all the people I interact with on an on-going basis are accepting of my food quirks and don’t get offended by my lack of desire to eat something.  Because I’d really rather have someone take away every food I enjoy eating rather than ever having to put in my mouth something that I can’t wrap my mind around trying.

Would you rather have someone tell you that you can never eat your favourite food again (for me, it would be cucumber.  Goodbye cucumber) or would you rather have someone tell you that you have to eat your least favourite food every day (for the love, you know the person would choose fried grasshoppers for me)?


1 serenity { 04.12.12 at 9:25 am }

I’d rather be told I can’t eat my favorite food. For some odd reason, – really, since both are freedoms being taken away – I’d fight more against being told to eat something I didn’t like.

Because at least if I can’t eat my favorite food I still have my own free will to eat anything else.

Being told I had to eat what I didn’t like every day takes more free will out of the equation.

For me, anyway.


2 Tiara { 04.12.12 at 10:07 am }

Easy, I’d rather be told I couldn’t eat my favourite food…the thought of being made to eat raisins makes me shudder.

3 Chickenpig { 04.12.12 at 10:47 am }

I would rather be denied my favorite food. Since being forced to eat some things would make me choke on my own vomit and die a horrible death. Besides, there are more favorite foods where that one came from I’m sure.

4 Tigger { 04.12.12 at 10:54 am }

Denied the favorite food here – and good luck trying to figure out what THAT is. I know they’d choose peas to make me eat. I remember going on a trip with our neighbors – old people even then! – and their granddaughter. They knew that peas were absolutely the one food I would not touch, and thus told me they had brought us peas for every meal and we would have to eat them. That night I had nightmares about huge talking peas that kept trying to get me. Or the person would choose pineapple, which I am allergic to.

It’s a good concept, the freedom from and to. Sometimes they go hand-in-hand. The freedom to be who I am and the freedom from being persecuted for it (in any manner). It is a concept that the world doesn’t really seem to grasp.

5 a { 04.12.12 at 11:06 am }

I need to know the payoff/cost to answer that question. If I never eat my favorite food again, does that mean that no one will even offer my least favorite food again? What do I get for eating the fried grasshoppers? Neither choice appeals to me. And that’s probably why I hated The Handmaid’s Tale…If I’m willing to take my chances and suffer the consequences (or overcome), who is anyone to tell me otherwise?

(I hate the “freedom from” concept, because I believe it’s false. You can never really eradicate all the things you want freedom from. Apparently, I have much stronger feelings about The Handmaid’s Tale than about food.)

6 Kate { 04.12.12 at 5:01 pm }

I would easliy do the ‘take away’. You kinda have to do that anyway at times anyway and it would be more theraputic to rail against ‘the man’ then the baby that somehow dictated that I can’t eat avacado suddenly…. plus the foods I dont’ want to eat I really really don’t want to eat.

7 S.I.F. { 04.12.12 at 5:09 pm }

I don’t really like thinking of myself as a picky eater, but rather a particular eater. I know what I like and how I like it, just as much as I know what I don’t (or won’t) like. I am totally that girl who modify’s everything whenever I go out to eat, because I know exactly how to make whatever I’m ordering better! 😉

That said, I don’t think I could very happily give up some of my favorite foods. In having to do it so often at the insistence of my naturopath anyway, I’ve realized that I REALLY hate restricting myself when it comes to food.

So, give me the fried grasshoppers, just so long as it means I can keep my cheese!

8 HereWeGoAJen { 04.12.12 at 7:41 pm }

I don’t know. I think take away, but that is mainly because I don’t really have a one single favorite so there isn’t a one thing I would miss. I have lots of favorites.

But my other thought is whether I would learn to like something if I ate it every day. I’ve taught myself to like lots of things by forcing myself to eat them, like mustard, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes. I’m not sure I could do it with one of my top three most hated foods though.

9 Sara { 04.12.12 at 10:45 pm }

My favorite thing ever is a cherry almond torte that I ate in a tiny village in the south of France when I was ten. I have never since been able to find anything that tastes remotely the same, and have spent the last 30+ years missing it. So, I’m already living one of these options. It’s survivable.

As my comment on the last post in this series indicated, this is a total no-brainer for me (even if it means I have to give up food #2, hmmm, what would THAT be?). I can’t eat foods that I am averse to. I just can’t. My body says no, regardless of what my mind or my will has to say about it. No grasshoppers here.

10 Life of a Doctor's Wife { 04.13.12 at 12:39 am }

I have such a hard time eating foods I hate – and it stresses me out so much – that I think I’d choose to give up a favorite food. It’s hard to weigh something I love – like tacos – against something I hate – like tomatoes. But I think the hatred is heavier.

11 Mali { 04.13.12 at 12:57 am }

I put value on trying new foods. I love discovering a new flavour, texture, I love variety. But my husband doesn’t, so whilst I might encourage him (I want him to enjoy the pleasure of what I enjoy), I’d never force him. I think that’s part of the issue – that we take pleasure in something and would love others to feel that pleasure. But if you’re not going to – if the displeasure of trying something new far outweighs the potential pleasure – then I totally respect that. (In the same way I respect people who don’t expect me to like heights … or spiders!)

Hmmm – could I live without tomatoes? I could eat a cricket a day, though it would get tiresome – but I don’t eat tomatoes (or ice cream) every day, so I could give them up. So I don’t think your comparison is equal.

And cucumber is your favourite food? Seriously? (It is my husband’s no. 1 most hated food, and was my father’s too!) See, that’s what’s great about the world. We’re all different! Mmmmm – greek salads with cucumber, tomatoes and olives. I’m drooling now.

12 St. Elsewhere { 04.13.12 at 4:57 am }

I would rather eat what is least favourite of mine…that way, I don’t lose connection with what I really like.

I always took my medicines and my pricks thinking of what that meant to me in the long run, which for the past few years, meant a baby or two. I would like to see the same thing applied to my food.

Bring it on…and I will nullify it with good food later!

13 mijk { 04.13.12 at 7:55 am }

well my son requested to eat bugs so we will check out an educational place that fries grashoppers so we go a bit far in the experimental here. Theonly thing I hate with a vengeance are tomatoes and I started eating them the last couple of months. (which seriously involved gagging, dut it gets better…). I didn’t realise I am a bit of azn extremist in this but apperently we are…

14 Jessie { 04.20.12 at 1:09 am }

I have too much of a gag reflex, I’d rather be told I can’t have my favorite food. Although I’d probably cheat and try to make something as much like it as I could.

15 Bea { 04.20.12 at 8:55 am }

So, ok, to wrap this up, even though I know you already did.

I’d rather eat my least favourite thing. I’m 100% sure I’d acquire a taste for it over time. Might not be something I’d voluntarily go through to acquire a taste for something under other circumstances, but I’d rather add than subtract.

And I think, despite what you’ve said in another post, that we could all, ultimately, learn to eat what we don’t like if we had to. There’s a lot of things you do that impress me, but skipping multiple meals over multiple days isn’t one of them 😉 There’s a big difference between that and actual starvation – I don’t for a second believe that you wouldn’t eat a bit of broccoli that had been on a plate with a piece of chicken if the other choice was death.

And for me, a lot of my willingness to try a wide range of tastes is that I’m prone to hypoglycaemia. If I skip meals I don’t just go hungry, I get migraines and vomit, usually for at least twenty-four hours, if not several days. Couple that with the fact that headaches are about the worst pain I can imagine, beating out even such cliches as childbirth, and that stir-fried fish offal starts to look pretty darn tasty by comparison (I am not making that example up). So I really do believe, in the end, that it does come down to motivation.

But this is the thread that keeps popping up from you: why would you be motivated? Well, if you don’t get migraines and vomit from skipping lunch, and you’re not literally starving, and you haven’t got a burning desire to do something that disgusts you for fame, fortune, or a very specific idea about personal growth, then I really can’t think of a reason. There are plenty of things I could do, but don’t want to. I own that, too.


16 Kelly { 04.20.12 at 2:08 pm }

I rather not be able to eat my favorite food, I guess, because I like so many foods that the exclusion of just one wouldn’t be that bad for me. I honestly am having a hard time even thinking of what my least favorite food is, but the idea of being made to eat ANYTHING every single day sounds really annoying to me. Even if I liked it to begin with I’d get really tired of it.

I’m late with this comment (away on business etc) so don’t know if any one will see it. But my husband actually sent me an interesting article on this very subject:


I don’t think Mel’s pickiness really falls in this same category, because you eat what sounds like a small menu of really healthy stuff. But maybe some of my strong position will make sense if I explain further that my dad and brother fit the more typical picky eater description where the extreme version is discussed in this article. They hate veggies and only eat certain types of overdone meat and greasy carbs. Or I should say used to. When I was a kid I hated eating at my house because we were only allowed to have like 10 different meals EVER because that’s all my dad would eat. And most of them (rice-a-roni, you’re-in-the-army-now cassarole, sausage pizza, etc) were unhealthy and disgusting. I literally used to BEG for spinach or broccoli that was not covered in microwave orange cheez sauce, no joke. But we all just got really tired of my dad’s seeming inability to try new things or eat other stuff as we got older. I learned a whole new world of food when I moved out of the house for college, mostly introduced to me originally by my best friend, a very NON picky vegetarian. And we’ve since learned that if you push my dad and MAKE him try new things (with help from doctor’s orders), he often actually decides he likes them and as such has added several things to his “ok” list. Including fish, normal veggies like roasted asparagus, and others that are much healthier. I bring this all up because the article explains that to treat this type of unhealthy picky eating, the treatment is to basically make a person try new things in a controlled way and as such desensitize (not FLOOD) a person to the new food.

“Psychologist Peter Girolami, the clinical director of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, uses similar “desensitization tactics” for the kids he sees—with an 87 percent success rate. “It may take some time, but if you can get [the new food] in, next time they’ll look at it a little differently,” he says.”

Great series! Really fascinating topic, and thanks for hosting the conversation.

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