I’m an emotional eater. Since I am also bipolar, you can imagine the havoc that wreaks on my weight management efforts. Oatmeal brings up incredibly mixed emotions including love, hate, fear, shame, and determination. Yes, oatmeal.
For most of my adult life, I have not eaten oatmeal. Occasionally, I bought the instant kind with fruit flavors like peach cream, brown sugar cinnamon, etc. but I didn’t really love them. It was more of a “well, I have to eat some kind of food for breakfast,” and instant oatmeal kept me from getting bored with the usual breakfast fare.
When we went to the United Kingdom, however, I decided to embrace my heritage by eating “porridge” nearly every day as it was a staple of the English breakfast much as eggs are for Americans. (I couldn’t bring myself to eat haggis which was also ever present.) The porridge was pretty plain, but if you doctored it up with butter and sugar, it didn’t taste too bad.
To my point. The reason why I hadn’t eaten much oatmeal in my adult life was because of the emotional attachments I had and still have with it.
We were very poor when I was growing up. (I’m grateful because we always had enough, but usually there was no extra.) Oatmeal, however, was always around, and as I grew older it came to represent for me in some warped way the symbol of our poverty.
I ate oatmeal enough when I was a kid, so, dammit, I didn’t have to eat it as an adult. I can remember my mom even feeding it to our dog because we didn’t have enough money to buy extra dog food. He turned his nose up at it just as I did.
Here is where the shame comes in. I remember one time when I was hungry. (I was always hungry – in more ways than in the need for food.) I told mom I wanted something to eat. She said that she could fix me oatmeal. I remember telling her that I was sick and tired of oatmeal, and I wanted something different.
My mom started crying.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized that my mom offered to fix me oatmeal because it was about the only thing left in the house to eat.
This time of year, all kinds of memories of my mom pop up because she died the weekend before Thanksgiving eight years ago.
One of them is how instead of being thankful that my mom was willing to fix me oatmeal, I made her cry. I’m ashamed of that now.
Mostly though, the great memories of my mom come up. And yes, a lot of them are associated with food. One of the things I think about is how creative she was with the little bit we had. I don’t know how many of you ever ate pie crust with cinnamon and sugar, but I can tell you that when we were kids, the nectar of the gods couldn’t have been more delicious.
This morning, I fixed myself oatmeal that I doctored up with a brown-sugar, stevia mix; some cinnamon, some butter, and a cinnamon Fiber one bar. It was scrumptious, and as I ate it, I thought about my mom and how blessed I was to have her.
Mom, this oatmeal is for you.