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Can Food Save You?

A recent Taco Bell commercial caught my attention. It shows a young man, a corporate type, getting ready for work in the morning – except he’s already working even as he puts on his tie and brushes his teeth. He continues focusing on his phone and work as he walks.

Then he looks up and spies Taco Bell. Salvation!

The message couldn’t be any clearer. When you feel overwhelmed, and work consumes your life, food will save you. In this case, Taco Ball food.

Even if you have other reasons for turning to food, or if you choose other food venues, this idea is fairly prevalent. I know I’ve used food a sort of life boat in the past, latching onto it when it seems like everything else is going wrong or is off-kilter. Maybe you’ve experienced this, too, with whatever food speaks to you – chocolate, baked goods, ice cream, chips, mac n’ cheese, etc.

All of which made me wonder – can food save you?

I’m not talking about our physical need for food. This is more of a question of emotions and perhaps even spiritual needs.

The easy answer is no. Food doesn’t love us, it can’t give us a hug or ask how our day was, it can’t clean the house for us or tell us the meaning of life or advise us on whether we should quit our jobs or leave a bad relationship.

And yet, it’s not that simple.

For instance, I watch a number of shows on the Food Network, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that cooking saved them, gave them stability and purpose and joy after various hardships, including incarceration and drug use.

If someone knows you’ve been having a hard time, or you’re sick, they might make you a meal. If it comes at the right moment, that could save you, or help pull you out of a downward spiral.

And in some religious traditions, the Last Supper, and the sharing of bread and wine during communion, promises spiritual salvation.

Given all of that, in terms of stopping for a to-go breakfast at a chain restaurant, my answer would still be no. In some cases, though, I do think food can be a vessel to save us from various things, if it infused with deeper meaning and care.

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