Eating for a Living – When Food is Your Career

I answer the question I get asked the most: How do you stay skinny and eat so much?

I grew up living to eat.  Food was my best friend – my excitement, my sadness, my comfort, my way to pass time.  When I went on my first diet as an adult, I ate to live.  Calories became important, and eating suddenly felt like my enemy.  I began to feel anger and fear towards anything that didn’t satiate me AND fill me up with nutritional fuel.  Nowadays, I’m eating for a living.  Food has become my career, and that can be complex.

NEDAwareness Week starts today.  I’ve shared my story about binge eating and anorexia in the past, but it’s not something that affects my life on a day-to-day basis anymore.  I stopped sharing my daily diet a few years ago.  But I think it’s important for me to remind my readers (especially the ones who always ask how I maintain my weight) that eating on camera is not the same as eating in real life.  Between shoot days, food events, hosted dinners, and the general social gathering – I am eating things that are so boring (melons, salads, lean proteins, plain vegetables, soups) it’s just not interesting enough to document.

lynn chen

And the foods that ARE worth photographing/mentioning – it’s just a bite.  Last night I went to LA Weekly’s The Essentials and I definitely didn’t finish everything I photographed.  A single taste of 20 or so plates.

bestia pork belly

This is work, but at the same time, it isn’t.  So those themes of eating to live, living to eat are resurfacing.  I’ve got two food shoots this week (one with Hilah, one is a secret) and I don’t want to be overstuffed.  But I still want to have fun.  At the same time, I don’t want to waste food.  When I’m off-duty, the last thing I feel like doing is spend money or time on the hottest dish at the new restaurant.  I know that worries some of my friends, because they think I’m saying no for the wrong reasons.

food blogger LAla weekly the essentials

All in all, I feel like my relationship with food is a “healthy” one – but not in the same sense as it was for me just a few years ago.  The acceptance that this will keep evolving is what helps me get through every day for the last decade without relapsing.

Cosmopolitan recently interviewed me (and Lisa Lee) for an article about the rise of eating disorders in Asian-American women.  I’ll also be participating in a Twitter chat for NEDAwareness Week, over at the @dumplingskin feed.  Please join us!

I promise I will continue to be as transparent (as I can) when it comes to talking about eating, even when I have to make it look sexy and exciting.  And now, peas and chocolate.