Missed Meals

Looking at me, one can (and I have) say that I’ve never missed a meal.

Sounds funny and, on one hand, it’s true.  I haven’t missed many.  Truth be told, I’ve even doubled up on some.  However, as I was eating breakfast (gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread with cream cheese),  I thought about how many meals, thousands of them, I’ve really missed because I wasn’t paying attention.

It’s true.  Now that I’ve learned to eat when I’m hungry and pay attention, looking for that tiny sign that I’ve had enough, I’ve really zeroed in on the tastes and textures of what I’m eating.  I’ve experienced the explosive goodness of that very first bite, when my taste bud flare into full attention and I’m immersed in the burst of flavors as they are sensed in my mouth.  Then there’s the texture:  the crunch of toast, the smoothness of cream cheese and the chewy goodness of raisins.

In all the years of distracted eating, watching TV, reading a book, thumbing through a magazine, and even having emotionally charged conversations, I’ve missed all of this.  I’ve shoveled in food because I was starving; automatically moving fork from plate to mouth, not really noticing the nuances that make up the act of eating.

I’ve fallen in love with food again.

This afternoon, for lunch, I ate the second half of last night’s dinner.  Guacamole and chips were an almost religious experience.  The combination of crunchy and creamy with the flavor of avocado and onion and cilantro was overwhelmingly delicious.  The burrito bowl had just the right amount of heat from the tomatillo salsa, the fajita veggies were crunchy and flavorful, the brown rice was grounding and the steak was tasty.  And I experienced all of it, both as a whole, and as separate components.

Honestly, I’ve never experienced food this way.

Half of it was sufficient for dinner last night.  The other half was sufficient for lunch.  And instead of thinking, “Oh, this isn’t enough to fill me up,” surprisingly (to me , at least), it was.  Extremely, completely.  And there’s still some left-over guacaomle for a snack later.

Instead of feeling deprived, of thinking I didn’t get enough, I’m excited that there are left-overs, and I can experience it again later, when I’m hungry again.

I will be hungry later.  Of course, I will.  We all get hungry a few hours after we eat.   And when I’m hungry, I will eat again.  Maybe I’ll finish the guacamole.  Maybe I’ll have something else.  But the point is, that I didn’t have to finish what was in front of me because of the fear that I would never have it again.

I have no idea where this fear came from.  Maybe because my mother was very fair about portioning things out.  Maybe because she believed a little of something really expensive, was better than not having it all.  But unlimited amounts weren’t in the budget.  Maybe I never got enough of what I wanted, and never knew if I would have it again.

It doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that I can now be an adult in my own body.  I can make my own decisions about food, and I can satisfy my own needs.  The freedom in that is indescribable.  It goes along with the decision that I’m never going to diet again.  I’m never again going to put someone’s ideas of what I should be eating ahead of my own body’s need.

I will be hungry for salad again.  When the weather warms up, I will crave salads and greens.  I will want grilled salmon and chicken.  I know I will want that.  But now, when it’s cold and blustery, I want what’s warm and filling.  I’m going with that.  And I’m paying close attention.  I’m looking for that feeling of “enough”.

I’ve discovered that “enough” occurs way sooner than I want it to.  This has led me to slow down.  To savor each forkful, each mouthful.  To pay attention and be present with my food.  To continue to reassure myself that leftovers are good.  That they will be there later.  That I can get more any time I want to.  This is a lesson i will have to keep repeating to myself until I really get it.  Until I trust myself to take care of myself.  Because that’s what it is really all about.

Comments and discussion is always welcome,

Harriet

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