Zomieeeeeeees and Food: 4 ways you may be eating like a Zombie and what to do about it.

Entry #1 in our ongoing look at zombies and food: Mindless Eaters

So this is weird, right? Why is Lust for Cooking talking about zombies? I mean we all love a good zombie flick, but what’s the relevance?

I’m glad you asked.

Zombies represent everything we at Lust for Cooking are against: mindless eaters who destroy civilization through (cannibalistic) over-consumption. Not sexy.

Seems pretty straight-forward now doesn’t it? Since this will be an ongoing series, I’ll start by breaking down this definition.

Zombies are Mindless Eaters

Mindless eating is destructive. And not just in the mouth of a cannibalistic reanimated corpse. It’s destructive for those of us who are still living.

Mindless eating has many manifestations. There’s the couch potato snacking. The microwavable dinner. The instant rice lunch (cause that’s all that I bought at the store). And of course, overeating. Many of us have fallen victim to at least one of these bad habits. I personally have eaten A LOT of instant rice.

All of these habits are a result of a society that has moved away from home cooking.  And each one can be seen as a step toward the chronic health problems that Americans uniquely face.

Couch potato snacking.  When done infrequently it can be one of the best uses of a Saturday ever. But the problem is, if you do it at all, you probably do it a lot, amiright? It’s the “Ooo! Piece of candy. Ooo! Piece of candy. Ooo! Piece of candy,” that when put on repeat leads to no real meals for that day and a belly full of food-like substitutes. This is like your legless zombie that happened to land in a high-traffic area. It just grabs the ankle of an unsuspecting traveler and gorges until the next unsuspecting traveler comes along.

The microwavable dinner. Ok, yeah, it says it’s edible. Or maybe it doesn’t, but it’s from a grocery store and sold in the “frozen food” aisle, right? It’s cheap and prepackaged, because they really don’t what you to think about it. But if you read the back of the box, it probably has a list of ingredients the size of the Gettysburg Address, and maybe one item on that list is actual food. It’s been processed so much that they feel the need to add the nutrients back in (that’s what they mean by “fortified”). And it’ll just leave you hungry in a couple hours, because you didn’t actually eat anything your body could use. Trust me, just because the reanimated corpse is walking and moving it’s jaw does not mean it’s a person. In this case it’s the food that’s the zombie. Reanimated dead food.

Instant rice ’cause that’s all I bought. This used to be my biggest mindless eating problem. Before I learned how to cook, I just bought… whatever. Which means I just ate… whatever. Going to the grocery store was a little like going to a foreign country. It was so intimidating. All of these food items and I hadn’t the faintest idea how they went together. So instant rice happened, because I could handle “boil water and let it sit.” Zombies will just eat whatever happens to come along as well. This means skunk, bear, or sickly human. Sometimes it’s gross (even for a zombie). Sometimes it lops their head off. Whatever.

Overeating. This might be the number one mindless eating problem in America. Most of us are trained from an early age to clean our plate. That would be fine, except remember the last time you went out for Italian food? The pasta bowl was so heavy they had to wheel it out to you. In America we seem to have a silent competition going for who can fit the most food on a plate. This is your zombie that has a big hole right below the rib cage and everything that goes in the mouth just falls on the floor. It would make sense that all zombies would end up this way eventually. They have no limits, so they would just eat until their torso explodes (ewwww). And in a way, the other mindless eating habits all seem to lead here as well.

There are solutions to these problems, most of which start at that foreign country, the grocery store.

  • Limit your snack purchases to a small quantity of healthy items, like fruit or nuts. Does that sound incredibly boring? Then get one package of your favorite snack and divvy it up into portions ahead of time. That way you won’t run out either. Bonus!
  • Read the ingredients list. If you can’t pronounce it, it’s not food.
  • Don’t be intimidated by all of the options. The easiest way to deal with the grocery store is to avoid the center aisles altogether and loop the perimeter. This is where your raw ingredients live: fruits, veggies, dairy, bread, meat, (alcohol). No, they don’t come with instructions, so if that’s still a problem stick around. Here at Lust for Cooking, our goal is make sense of those ingredients as we go.
  • Planning your purchases also helps prevent overeating. That way you don’t just grab and eat whatever bodies-ahem-food stuffs are lying around. But also, put less on your plate, or get smaller plates. Really, this helps. And eat slower (a huge issue for me). There (hopefully) are no zombies behind you that will gobble your meal up before you do. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to know the stomach is full. The slower you eat, the easier it will be for your brain (cause you do have one) to catch up. You’ll be surprised how satisfied you can be with a smaller nutritious meal.

Don’t be a zombie. Our goal at Lust for Cooking is to invert the definition of a zombie. Mindless Eaters become Mindful Eaters.

Remember the zombie isn’t just mindless. It’s also dead. For reals dead. And death can be a consequence of mindless eating. Hey, zombies make more zombies.

For more on the subject check out: Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think by Brian Wansink.

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