I’ve always had a complicated relationship with food. Food and I got off to a rocky start back when my mother was giving me spoonfuls of strained carrots from a tiny jar. It didn’t get any better when the menu switched to adult dishes. I had staring contests with beets, peas and creamed corn that lasted until bedtime.

Apart from avoiding vegetables, though, I was eating heartily as I entered adolescence. That’s when I became paranoid that everything good-tasting including chocolate was bad for the complexion. I turned away from sweets and haven’t looked back.

I know sugary treats would help fill out the frame but I’ve tried other means to gain weight. I consumed heavy Eastern European beer, ate bacon cheeseburgers for breakfast and occasionally sampled late-night drive- thru. I just couldn’t gain that elusive ten pounds.

I thought my failure to increase girth was due to my rapid metabolism. A recent study, though, said that people who eat slowly tend to weigh less than those who gulp down their food. Fast eaters get full before the news hits their brain, while slower eaters feel satisfied prior to over-filling their stomachs.

I’m the pokiest eater I know. I’m the guy the server keeps asking if they’re finished, while everyone else has moved onto coffee and dessert. After endless picking, I get a box to take home the rest.

My slow-eating and complaints about large portions tend to spoil the dining experience for my family. They’re also annoyed that I prefer chewing the fat to chewing the food. I tried to become a faster eater. I started talking less, taking larger bites and chewing fewer times but this led to a near-death experience at a steak house.

To further confuse my relationship with food, I like everything about it, except the eating. Grocery shopping is a daily delight, especially since it doubles as my social life. Cooking is a fascinating activity. I love trying new recipes. And, just to show how twisted I am, I get a kick out of cleaning up.

Although I prefer home-cooking, I’m not averse to eating out in Forest Park. We have such a variety of cuisine. My only objection is that some of the dishes contain too much flavor. I much prefer something bland, with no fancy fixings like onion, garlic, or mustard.

My aversion to food also extends to snacks. I don’t have any urge to eat between meals. I’ll eat a cookie but it can’t be anything more exciting than a vanilla wafer. And, if I go for ice cream, I order the kiddie cone.

Until recently, I also skipped breakfast. But, after hearing it was the most important meal of the day, I started eating a banana every morning. An apple would take me too long to finish.

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.