It hit me in the face last night. I never saw it coming. Although, that’s how all insights come, at least for me, this one was different. This one tore through the very core of my life, or what I once called my life.
A friend of ours was sitting on the sofa, asking me if I needed any help in the kitchen. Since I’ve been an authentic Foodie with traditional Foodie habits for as far back as I can remember, I have never seen cooking as a chore.
Hubby and I live in a basement apartment with an open kitchen design. I was able to easily communicate with our guest while cooking.
We had been out all day, so I wasn’t planning to make anything elaborate for dinner. I had taken a zip-lock bag filled with shredded smoked pork shoulder out of the freezer to thaw, before we left, and was in the process of heating up a can of refried beans with green chilies and lime.
The plan was burritos. “No,” I said, as I worked. “It will only take me a couple of minutes.”
“We do a lot of simple now,” hubby told her.
“So do I,” she said.
Reaching for a gluten-free flour tortilla and tossing it into a pan to heat gently, I suddenly saw just how true that was. “I don’t even make my own bread very often anymore,” I confessed. “I can’t eat store-bought gluten-free bread, due to the whole grains they put in it now. If we’re having hamburgers, I usually just toss my patty onto a plate.”
My friend nodded. “I do the same thing. It sucks getting old, doesn’t it.”
I glanced at the cashew jars on the counter that I was using for gluten-free flour canisters. I had a lot of various gluten-free flours and starches I didn’t use much any more. Even the gluten-free pasta looked lonely just sitting there. Was this what happens when your Foodie habits change?
At that moment, reality hit home: I wasn’t a Foodie any more.
What is a Foodie?
There is a lot of controversy surrounding the term Foodie. Many people who love to eat and find great satisfaction in going out to breakfast, lunch, or dinner often use the term without a clear understanding of what it actually means to be a Foodie.
While some people describe Foodies as belonging to the niche of being a serious food enthusiast, where food is a passionate hobby bordering on the edge of obsession, for me, food was my life. And I mean that literally.
Many Foodies who are passionate about restaurant dining can tell you:
- the history behind the dishes they eat
- where to find the best prime rib in town
- who serves the best wine
- several appropriate choices at their favorite restaurants
- the techniques involved in a dish’s creation
- the science behind why certain cooking methods are best
While they may or may not cook and bake themselves, and may or may not be a super-taster, the obsession with food experiences is more than just a hobby. You can’t call us a gourmet. Our focus on food and recipes is far more addictive and habitual than that.
We literally chase restaurant openings, can tell you about the ins-and-outs of trending food fads, know quite a bit about nutrition and health, and would prefer to take a cooking class than visit the gym. For a long time all I did was:
- read cookbooks and food magazines
- visit food articles and columns
- collect recipes I wanted to experiment with at home or work
- work as a culinary specialist in a few boys homes
- try every new restaurant we could find
- hang out at online recipe sites
- check out every recipe and cooking section of forums
- watch barbecue or food competition shows on television
- go to the farmer’s market every weekend to browse
- try new recipes several times a week at home or work
These were daily experiences. They were not something I did occasionally when I was bored or needed a new food idea. It was something I had to do all the time. If I didn’t, I grew quite anxious.
However, over the years, health conditions have altered a lot of these passions. I didn’t realize how much I had changed my traditional Foodie habits until last night.
5 New Food Habits that Replaced My Food Addiction
I can’t blame only age for what happened to me.
A large portion of the adaptions I’ve had to make in the kitchen and to my food-related habits are due to being a super-sensitive celiac. I also have vertigo attacks, which can interfere with my ability to cook and bake.
However, a lot of the fading Foodie activities can be attributed to age and the transformation in thought that has happened to me over the past few years. Food is no longer addicting. While I still enjoy eating and gluten-free recipe curation, my life is more balanced today.
I have several passions now, not just food.
1. Why I Avoid Restaurants Now
Unlike many other celiacs, I take a common sense approach to managing the disease.
Since I react to very low trace amounts of gluten residue in foods, as well as a shared kitchen environment, hubby and I do not go out to eat any more. I can’t tell you where to get the best steak, burger, or pizza in town, nor who cooks the best fries.
While many restaurants and fast-food establishments do have gluten-free menus, most of what they offer is not safe for celiacs. If you ask for gluten-free options, they will tell you that they cannot guarantee that the food is gluten free since it is made in a shared environment.
Restaurants target those who are gluten-free by choice and not those of us who have to eat gluten free to stay alive.
I do miss going out to eat, but it’s safer if we do not.
2. What Happened to My Recipe Addiction
I actually noticed this habit change the other day when I had to hunt down my latest recipe notebook because I didn’t know where it was. At the time, I brushed off the pending revelation because I have collected more recipes over the years than I will ever have the time to use or adapt.
While I still enjoy trying new things, and tweaking a gluten-free recipe to make it the best it can be, I don’t have that drive to cook elaborate recipes or decorate a cake like I did before. I will pick up an old cookbook if I find one at a garage sale, but I am picky about the recipes I collect now.
3. No More Crowd-Pleasing Cakes and Cookies
When we first went gluten free, I was obsessed with finding good gluten-free recipes. I wanted our food to taste and look as good as it did before. I still do that with each new recipe I try, but I don’t have the energy or urge to bake to the same extent I did before.
Some of that lack of energy might be due to the meds I have to take for several weeks or months after each vertigo attack, and some of it might be due to age.
Even so, I’m just as happy having a bowl of cherry ice cream with blueberries scattered on top as I am eating cake or cookies now.
I still bake, but not as often as I did before. Today, I make desserts that are quick and easy.
4. Daily Menus Have Fewer Side Dishes Now
I don’t feel driven to serve a full-course meal anymore. I’m likely to serve either just the main dish, if it’s a pasta recipe or a casserole, and maybe one side dish if I’m serving meat. For example, last night, I made 6 burritos for the 3 of us and no dessert because we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and it was already 7 o’clock.
On a more typical night, I might have made one burrito and served fruit on the side.
The older hubby and I get, the fewer calories we need, especially at night. I do make hubby a large breakfast in the morning and send him lots of lunch options because his job is physically taxing. But I just don’t do large dinners anymore, not even on holidays.
5. Strong Urge to Downsize My Kitchen Stuff
This is the oddest change for me, but maybe not, when you consider how my drive to cook and bake has gone down. I have no urge to add to my kitchen collection. In fact, I have a strong urge to downsize what I have instead.
I’ve been thinking in terms of dual or triple-use appliances, to save space, and I have no more need to see my cupboards overflowing with bakeware that I will never use.
Do I really need a dozen saucepans? Or 5 large soup pots? I don’t think so. There are only two of us, and even when we move to Texas next year to be closer to the grandbaby, I still don’t need everything I have right now. The addiction to kitchen stuff is gone.
Some Foodie Habits are Still There
Not all of my Foodie habits died.
I still have a strong interest in food and nutrition. Age hasn’t dulled my drive to know what’s in the food I eat. Learning tidbits of food history, as well as professional chef techniques I might find helpful in my own kitchen is still enjoyable. I care about the science behind gluten-free baking, and I still crave diversity in our meals.
Although I continue to serve the best gluten-free food possible, my free time isn’t devoted to just food anymore. Cost is as important as uniqueness, so seasonal cooking and using as many whole foods as possible are still a priority.
Oddly, my food blog is one of the most neglected blogs I have, so I can honestly say that food is no longer in control. I can now appreciate a dish’s ingredients without allowing it to drag me into the world of obsession.
Don’t have any lemons in the house? A few limes will do. Forgot to make fresh salsa for dinner? I can grab a jar of taco sauce and be fine with that. I don’t have to make refried beans from scratch, and a can of fruit served over cottage cheese is as satisfying as steamed asparagus with a tasty bacon-cheese sauce.
While I still enjoy discussing recipes and love watching and learning how others do things, food has taken its proper role in my life now.
(Feature Photo by KleeKarl/Pixabay/CC0)