I eagerly waited in line Sunday morning for the Hunger Games movie. Rarely do I feel inspired by a movie to write about it on my health blog. One word: fantastic! Whatever theme in the Hunger Games series you want to find, it is there: government, love, sacrifice, tv reality, society and class differences, and yes, even health and fitness.
The theme in the Hunger Games series that I want to discuss in this post has to do with food and its relationship to the characters.
As an aside, the Hunger Games movie follows the book closely. The scenes and characters that are omitted are minor and these omissions do not interrupt the storyline in the move.
Food theme in District 12: Stop gathering, you stop eating
The setting for District 12 is a mining town, which in itself does not result in extreme poverty for its citizens. But as a satellite city that supplies the Capital with coal and where the workers are kept subservient by the lack of food, there is very little chance for anyone to achieve a healthy appearance.
Katniss Everdeen and Gale Hawthorne in the Hunger Game movie practically glowed with vibrant health (yes some of this is Hollywood because it is amazing how clean they look when coal dust covers everything else).
In the Hunger Games series, Katniss, Gale, and their families fare better than the rest of their neighbors because Katniss and Gale are desperate enough to brave the wrath of the Capital by hunting and gathering in the forest outside of the fence surrounding their District.
As a health blogger, the things I notice from the Hunger Games series are how much trampling about the forest they do to get food (exercise) and the diversity of their diet since they never know what they will find each time they enter the forest (which increases their chance of proper nutrition). These two components factor into making Katniss a strong competitor in the Hunger Games.
Now if we all have to revert back to a hunter and gather society, you and I will have a high chance of becoming a lean, mean, fat burning machine. Since this is probably not going to happen in my lifetime and for practical reasons (I think I will end up taking out my own foot in the first hunt), I will just have to settle for carrying some of my groceries home on foot.
There is a grocery store about a mile away from my house. I can do my mid-week grocery trip pushing the stroller to pick bread and fresh fruit. What can you do to turn a regular task into a chance to exercise?
Food theme in the Capital: Eat, purge, eat
The one scene that clearly highlights the different mentality of the District and the Capital is during one of the victory feast in Catching Fire. Peeta and Katniss were full from eating, but still haven’t been able to try all the various dishes laid out. The silly members of the prep team showed them a bowl of liquid that induce vomit at the corner of the feast. Apparently it was a common occurrence at the Capital to stuff themselves, then drink the vomit inducing liquid, and stuff themselves again several times a night during these feasts. My disgust was just as great as Katniss’ and Peeta’s over such gluttonous behavior.
It is one thing to have an eating disorder, but to encourage such mass gorging and purging just because there is an excess of food, well, I don’t understand it. But I guess that is the point Suzanne Collins is trying to make. If there is no side effects and not even a slight discomfort, would you want a magical potion that allow you to keep eating? To the citizens in the Capital, eating and purging is normal. What does it take to make an eating disorder normal?
Food theme in District 13: Eat for nutrition, not for joy
Since District 13 (which appears in Mockingjay) has to be self-sustaining, it monitors the food intake of all its citizens to the nith degree, allowing no room for emotional eating. When it is time to eat, you eat. You cannot save any food for later. The food is calibrate to sustain your body for the work assigned to you (ie. more calories if you are doing military training and less calories if you are a clerk). And the food itself seems to be bland and tasteless.
It seems like everyone in District 13 is on a diet! For their entire lives!
Throughout the ages, food has always had a place in any celebration and rituals. What is Thanksgiving without the turkey? Or birthday without the cake? Or wedding without the champagne? These events seem to be missing something without its celebratory food or a replacement (we been known to have a roast for Thanksgiving on occasion).
There is room in our lives for comfort eating, for celebratory eating, and just plain old taking pleasure in eating; as long as we eat in moderation. I cannot imagine counting calories like they do in District 13 for my entire life.
Sure I am willing to diet for a short duration to lose some weight, but not for my entire life. If I have find myself in a position to diet constantly, then it is a strong indication there is something wrong with my relationship to food. Either I have to learn to cook, select healthier food, or figure out why I cannot stop myself from emotionally eating.
Final thoughts on the food themes in the Hunger Games
Everyone can relate to the food themes in the Hunger Games series. It is amazing how something as simple as feeding our bodies can produce such strong emotions and different reactions. I look my little Hazelnut and I know food is important. Trying to feed and teaching a toddler to feed herself is tougher than exercising for an hour. Guess which one I rather do?
If you have not read the Hunger Games series or watch the Hunger Games movie, I highly recommend them. Trust me, once you finish the Hunger Games, you are going to want to finish the entire series. It is that good.
Until next time and thanks for stopping by Small Steps to Health. And may the odds ever be in your favor.
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