Breaking Bread

I’m feeling proud of myself lately, and for a rather trivial reason. I try to eat right, or at least not to eat too many things I know are bad for me (not necessarily bad for you, but definitely for me), but it’s always hard for me to say no to gifts of food, to invitations to meals, to social occasions that involve food (and they almost always do).

Some people can sit with a group and not eat anything if they are on a voluntarily restrictive diet, but I’ve never been able to do that. It always seemed . . . I don’t know . . . unsociable or even self-righteous, as if I were subconsciously condemning them for eating less than healthy foods. At the very least, it makes people uncomfortable to eat if they are the only one eating, and I am always cognizant of trying to make people around me feel comfortable. Beyond that, though, so much of being with friends is “breaking bread together,” a simple phrase that used to literally mean sharing a loaf of bread, but is now mostly used as the name of religious rite. Even when the phrase is used in a secular manner, to mean sharing a meaningful connection over a meal, it’s still a spiritual rite. I’ve always intuitively understood the need of sharing a meal (one friend and I literally used to share a meal — every time we went out, we’d get one order of whatever and split it) and all that went along with the meal. Because of course, you don’t just share a meal, you share a space, an exchange of energy, a sense of camaraderie — a connection, in other words.

A shared meal feeds the soul, so this ritual of breaking bread has always been more important to me than the need to stick to my self-imposed food restrictions (sugar-filled desserts, baked goods, fried foods to name a few), so it was always a struggle to maintain any sort of food routine. I’m one of those who does well as long as I don’t ingest any of my verboten foods, but one reason I try to stay away from them is that they set up cravings for more of the same. My only hope of not gaining weight (I seldom lose, but I gain easily) is to remain true to my diet.

The first year I was here, I gained a lot of weight because of all the sociability. Every time I got together with people, it was over food. And there always seemed to be such occasions. And the food was always on my proscribed list. Still, I broke bread with my new friends.

Even before The Bob, I’d started backing away from social occasions. Although I enjoyed being with people, I didn’t particularly enjoy the meals, and didn’t like the way I felt after eating them. The isolation because of The Bob has helped me get into my “groove,” so now I don’t even want any of the foods I shouldn’t eat. And because of it, I can finally say “no” when it comes to eating with people.

For example, I always fix a snack for the woman I sit with a few hours a week, and she wants me to eat with her. So I scrounge, and if there is something in her refrigerator I can eat, I will. If not, I just smile at her, then turn aside to give her privacy so she doesn’t feel like a prize exhibit in a one-person eating contest.

When it comes time to socialize again — if it ever comes time — I hope I remember this and remain firm to my own self-interest. I know I will be giving up something by not being able to break bread with people, but I gain, too. The last time I decided it was okay to eat anything put in front of me (actually, I didn’t decide, I just did it), it took years to get back on my regime. Suffice to say that at the moment, I am feel good about being able to stick to doing what is right for my body.

And that is what I am proud about. See? A trivial thing, but important to me.


If you haven’t yet read A Spark of Heavenly Fire, my novel of a quarantine that inspired me to call this current disease The Bob, you can read the first chapter online here:

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On A Streak!

WordPress notified me that I’m on a three-day blogging streak. Is three days a streak? It seems more like a dash or a hyphen, but today’s blog makes four days, so that comes closer to a streak.

I’m also on a streak of spending time with people, joining them for community meals (which is playing havoc with my so far unstated challenge of eating more nutritious foods), but I suppose from a health standpoint, it could be argued that an unhealthy diet with people is as bad as eating good food alone — at least that’s what recent studies seem to indicate.

I’ve taken this opportunity of being among people to poll them about the tarantula migration. The local newspaper, as well as the newspapers in the big cities on the front range of the Rockies (Denver, Colorado Springs, Pueblo) have all printed near hysterical articles on the vast number of tarantulas that are supposed to be roaming the area.

And yet . . .

I haven’t seen any. I overheard a fellow in the grocery store lamenting that he took his grandsons out to see tartantulas, and didn’t see any. The reporter who wrote the article for the paper went out to get a photo, and he didn’t see a tarantula, either. My neighbor saw one lone creature crossing the highway in the early morning hours.

My informal poll elicited all sorts of information about the tarantulas, where to go to look for them, where they hang out, where people have seen them, (further questioning shows that their information comes from the newspapers, what people have said over the years, and what they themselves have seen in previous years.

But except for that neighbor, no one has seen any this year, and a single sighting of a single tarantula does not make a migration. So basically, the tarantula migration seems to be another case of fake news or of an attempt to induce hysteria in an unwary public. (Though truly, since few people see the creatures or care to see them, no one gets upset by the articles as they do with harder news.)

It’s possible, since the weather is still relatively warm, that these bird-eating spiders or Theraphosids are still cozy in their burrows and not ready to face what they might consider a human migration (from their point of view, the humans out looking for them might seem like some sort of annual people migration).

I suppose the bigger question here is whether it is better to eat alone, or to eat with others and ruin everyone’s appetite with spider stories, or is it better to eat alone and keeps one’s spider-induced questions to oneself.

So what does any of this have to do with anything?

Not a darn thing.

But it’s a blog, and I am on a streak.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.