Eating Your Words

The fascinating origins of everyday

culinary words and phrases

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A disturbance in the normal attitude towards food can develop into a full-blown eating disorder. The two most familiar of these are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa:

Anorexia nervosa involves a refusal to eat. It is a psychological illness, in which the sufferers have an obsessive and irrational fear of putting on weight. They react to this by starving themselves, which results in a dramatic loss of weight. Although the illness is frequently referred to just as anorexia, medically speaking, anorexia is simply a loss of appetite for food and may be due to any of a number of (usually short lived) causes, such as a fever or anxiety. In contrast to this, anorexia nervosa sufferers resist the urge to eat for emotional reasons. The name for the condition comes from the Greek anorexíā, from an- 'without' + órexis 'appetite, longing, desire'. The word anorexia is first recorded in the first half of the 17th century.

Thought by many experts to be a form of anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which sufferers have irresistible urges to overeat, consuming large quantities of food in a short time. During a single such 'binge' many thousands of calories may be consumed. As is the case with anorexia nervosa, the sufferer has an intense fear of being fat and after a binge will probably feel guilty and depressed. This results in purging, achieved by inducing vomiting, the abuse of laxatives and/or diuretics, or fasting. In contrast to anorexia nervosa the sufferer’s weight is typically normal or even a little above normal. Bulimia nervosa mostly affects women between 15 and 30 years of age. The word bulimia ultimately derives from the Greek boulimia from bous meaning ox and limos meaning hunger and so means ‘great hunger’.

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Food glorious food!

Everything but the kitchen sink

Keep the pot boiling

Out of the frying pan

Salad days  

In the soup!

Cook one’s goose

Give us a butchers!   

What a sauce!

A sandwich short of a picnic

Feeling groggy          

Just my cup of tea

Look to your laurels  

The spice of life     

In a nutshell