So, I'm working through the writing prompts from The F*ck It Diet and it's weird to discover just how turbulent my relationship with food has been for the last 38 years. Right now, I'm supposed to be analyzing my relationship to hunger. What do I think, fear, wish, and judge about hunger? What do I believe about it and how do I try to manipulate it? Finding the answers takes me back to grade school.
I'm a big person. I've always been a big person and it was more glaringly obvious when I was young and the kids around me were much smaller. I remember going to Disney World when I was 6 and riding my first roller coaster because I met the you must be this tall to ride line. I just shot up like a bean sprout and didn't stop until 9th grade then it just leveled out. My doctors speculated that I would be over 6 feet tall but I stopped at 5'9 and it's hard enough finding pants as it is. I also hit a size 10 shoe somewhere before the end of grade school and a size 11 by high school. I understand that there are many people who are taller and have bigger feet than I do, but pain is relative, and today, I'm reflecting on mine.
My mom is tall too, but as I've said before, not built like me. I've got broad shoulders and a masculine stance. No one has ever accused me of being dainty. I think I wanted to be dainty when I was young. And, as my body grew, so did my realization that I was not standard size. To be honest, my height never bothered me, it was my frame. I thought that maybe if I were thin, my size would be more acceptable. So what do I judge and fear about hunger? That it is weakness, a mountain to be conquered. To this day, I fight the subconscious habit of looking at the smaller people around me to see if they are hungry. I used to work with people who would drink coffee for breakfast and have an apple for lunch and just the thought of that makes me want to gnaw off my own foot. It makes me angry.
How? How do they drink coffee and eat an apple in an 8 hour work day and not want to go on a hangry rampage? Is there something intrinsically wrong with me that I can't, that I need more? I had terribly disordered eating in middle and high school. I skipped meals, tracked every ounce I gained or lost, felt a dark sense of satisfaction when the hunger pains kept me awake at night. Hunger was an obsession, an experiment, a never ending battle that I couldn't seem to win. As an adult, I have gone back and forth so many times there's no point in trying to count.
So, yeah, I clearly have an unhealthy and confrontational relationship with hunger. The good news is that I'm learning to see it as a biological function - the gas gauge in my human machine. Being hungry means that my body needs food. I don't have to fight it, or question it, or analyze it, I just eat. And some days, that is more of a struggle than it should be, but I'm learning. I'm growing. And one baby step at a time, I'm healing.
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