21 February 2013

the Wanting and the Desire (of Good Food)

There are moments when I am hungry. There are moments when I am not. But when I am Hungry... I really EaT & eat.
It started this morning. A low grumble in my stomach that stretched up to my throat and then back down to my toes. It made me tired. It made me thirsty. I became restless, unable to get rid of the scratchy feeing on my skin. I needed to fill myself up. I needed to eat. And not just eat the quick leftovers from the boys plates and the last sips from their cereal bowls. I needed something hearty. So I made myself breakfast, which for me is a feat that is usually unheard of.  Normally I am too busy, and not that all hungry, I am over-fueled by busy boys and pressed coffee to eat in the morning, so it surprised me when I fixed myself a bowl of oatmeal and added blueberries and brown sugar. Maybe I am fighting a cold, maybe I needed the fuel, maybe I needed some sort of blue, blue berry anti-oxident mix fighting power.

However, several hours later I sat down to lunch. Which, I didn't really think about the fact that I was eating breakfast AND lunch within such a short time frame, UNTIL I fixed myself a bowl of yoghurt and cereal shortly there after.  I try to always be gentle with myself when I am in one of these unnoticeable feedings. When I do stop to notice that I am over grazing I try not to beat myself up for overconsumption, instead I try to understand the reason behind it.  Today, perhaps my hunger is triggered by the gray clouds and cool winds visiting the sky. Perhaps it is because I really don't want to fold the laundry. Or clean the kitchen. Perhaps I would rather add to the collection of dishes in the sink. It could even be that I am just hungrier than normal. 
When I think of my relationship to food, I believe that for the most part is a healthy one. When I was younger, it was not so healthy. I didn't understand that food could be a joyful explosion of flavors and heart-stopping delight. I was trapped into a mind state that not only was food strictly for nourishment, but that it was a demon to be wrestled with. The old adage that our grandmothers' used to say, "a moment on the lips, forever on the hips" haunted me. It haunted my mother, it haunted my mother's friends. When I was a young girl that seemed that the only thing that some of my mother's friends would talk about was their weight. My mother engaged in this warfare with food as well. She did not love her body. Aware of this at a young age,  I took upon my mantle this same demon of self-deprication and insecurities when it came to food and my body.  From the time I was a teenager I held the flavor of food at arms length and became obsessed with calories and fat intake rather than the quality of food. I hunted for the perfect solution for what I saw as my imperfect & unloveable body: would it be low-fat/high carb? Or fruit only? no calories? too many calories? How much exercise could justify one extra slice of pizza? I was trapped in swirling negative thoughts about my self and the core of my being so that I truly put off living, waiting for that day when I was more beautiful, thinner, attractive, then and only then I could be happier, have a boyfriend, wear a swimsuit, live life the way I wanted to live it.

But now, so many years later, and many many therapists' bills later, I am more at peace with my body than I ever have before. Maybe it is not a peace, perhaps it is a reconciliation of who I am and who I know I am not.
There are many pieces to the puzzle that have healed my loathing and fear of food. Traveling to France; understanding the stigma of beauty; reading, reading, reading tomes of literature on food, desire, eating, and love; birthing babies; breastfeeding. Perhaps one above all others is a deep understanding that my body is happier when I eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full. 
This mantra has led me to become a pickier eater. I don't just want food, I desire GOOD food. Acknowledging the huger in my body for quality, delicious food, allowed me to acknowledge my own hunger: not just my physical hunger, but my spiritual hunger as well.

I stopped eating when I wasn't hungry, because I allowed myself to eat when I WAS hungry.  I slowly stopped beating myself up when I gained weight...so much so that I lost weight.  I fell head over heals in love...with Food. And as time went by, I fell in love, head over heals, with N. And as time went on, there were 3 boys to fall head over heals in love with as well.
From time to time, I still struggle with my self image. Especially in times of vulnerability...but I know that my want and desire for good food is not something to be feared, it is not a demon to be wrestled with. Instead it is a very human, very real emotion. And sometimes in moments of unnoticeable feedings, I am able to set the fork down and emotionally walk away from food and all its glory, because I know it will still be there when I come back.

 I am so lucky to be as much at peace with my body as I am. And if you, out there somewhere, struggle with the fear of food, and the weight of unmanageable self hatred, I hope that I can share some of my own peace, even only if it is a spec of a grain of self worth and contentment. Because if you hold onto it and carry it in your pocket, carry it in your soul, I know that someday it will grow into a mountain of self confidence and self worth.



  1. you wrote at Foxglove Lane about losing your mother in November. My mother died in January.

    I swing the other way, when stressed I stop eating. Now I get back to eating, and sleeping, again.

  2. Thanks so for your thoughts. Much of my reflections of eating come from my experiences when I was in HS and college, and now, watching young girls in the world set themselves apart because of the "food rules" we have placed on them. When my mom was sick and dying of Lou Gehrigs (ALS), I lost a lot of weight as well. When she died, I thought I was going to waste away. And the not sleeping was hard. & Stressful. Life is slow is back to normal now, but I miss her still. & talk to her at times as well. it is always lovely to find sympatico across the continent. Thinking of you and your mom today. xo


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