I don’t deserve to eat

I’m hungry, but I shouldn’t…

I just like the taste so I’d love more, but I’ve already eaten enough…

It’s dinnertime, but I need to save more…

 

These are not attempts to lose weight. These are the embodiment of first world guilt. Every day I struggle to balance my need to eat, my desire to eat something delicious, and my guilt about eating anything at all, let alone something delicious.

Part of it is money anxiety. If I just save these little remains of pasta, over a week it will build up, and that will be one extra meal. If I scrape my bowl more, I’ll scrounge out some more dinner when other people would just wash the dish. If I wait a bit longer before eating, then I won’t have to eat lunch and I can save on that meal.

But really, if I’m honest, at least 70% of the battle is this: I have food and Others do not. I do not deserve such luxury. If I eat less, there will be more available for Them.

When I plan my lunch, I automatically think about what I can cut in order to get by, to stretch my food longer. When I look at the non-staple foods at Tesco’s, I get anxious. When I finish a satisfying meal, the faces of starving people hover around my peripheral vision, haunting the washing up, berating me for indulgence.

Restaurants: it isn’t just the cost. Look at all these people enjoying food while there is so much suffering. Look at all this waste. The world’s poorest are peering in the windows, watching my every bite, and I just sit there, munching away, avoiding looking outside.

Last night as we put away dinner, I lost sight of the dishes I was drying. My insides began to churn with guilt. I was transported to that field of shame I know so well, where every soul except me fed the needy hoi polloi, looking backwards at me with disgust, embarrassment, and resignation. What a callous fool to waste so much leek and potato soup. Her eyes are bigger than her stomach. Consumerist whore.

I don’t deserve food until I can solve world hunger. Each bite I take is a debt to be paid.

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5 thoughts on “I don’t deserve to eat

  1. ursadoublemajor

    World hunger is too big a problem for one person to solve. That doesn’t mean you should do nothing, but it does mean that your thinking is not completely within the realm of logic here.

    Our food systems are fucked, and regardless of what you do (or do not) eat, ridiculous amounts of edible food are going in the garbage. Food supplies for areas in war and famine are going to be diverted by warlords- sometimes even diverted and then destroyed, just so the group in need must continue to starve.

    Then, there’s the other kind of starvation- the chubby, teenaged girl with diabetes and fatty liver who eats what she can afford at the bodega (which is starch, sugar, and preservatives). The fat poor, who can’t find, afford, clean, and prepare fresh, nutritious food. They’re starving, too- and they’re being blamed and judged for it.

    You can’t pack up your lovely salad or your fried chicken or your pie and send it to someone else. If you could, they might not want it. It doesn’t work that way; it’s not that simple. You can’t make a dent in world hunger by starving yourself. So: what’s left?

    What remains is the feeling of worthlessness, and the idea I want to question: does food have to be earned? Do starving children need to prove they’re worthy of sustenance? What about their families? What about their friends? What are the criteria for foodworthiness, and what are your qualifications to judge it?

    I think that all human beings are entitled to healthy food. I believe it with all my heart. I don’t think anyone, anywhere has to “earn” the things necessary to keep them alive- not in a financial sense, not in a moral sense. We’ve all got the right to live.

    No exceptions. Not even you.

    Reply
    1. ardentmarbles Post author

      Hahaha, no, my thinking is definitely not logical. That, I certainly recognize.
      That’s an interesting way to put it though, whether those starving are also ‘worthy’ (and of course they are, the argument is that everyone is worthy, thus also me). I think my illogical thinking works on the thought that things are so unbalanced, and I want to balance them any way I can. Although obviously I can’t, and certainly not by starving myself.
      Thank you for your encouraging words, and for such thought.

      Reply
    2. stacitsmith

      Thanks so much for that reply. I never thought of it from the perspective that those who did not have enough to eat, simply deserve to eat healthy food for no other reason than that should be a right of all people. Ironic that my shared guilt over eating well should eclipse the fact that there is no reason that anyone should eat poorly. Rather than simply reminding me that it’s not a crime that I should eat and others shouldn’t, it’s reminded me not to be so self centered and simply do what I can to help. Thanks Again.

      Reply

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