My Appetite Identity


I’ve always had a hearty appetite. Really. During childhood when I came to the table to eat, it was with joy and anticipation, and I could chow down as well as anyone, even my three brothers, whom my mom referred to as “bottomless pits.” When my mom cooked a family favorite such as tacos, the food disappeared as fast as she could bring it to the table.

Fortunately, I grew tall as a teenager, had a good metabolism that helped me burn off the calories I took in every day, and stayed on the thin side until my freshman year of college. Nonetheless, those formative years solidified my identity as a “person with a hearty appetite.” Mention food, and I’m there!

Don’t get me wrong. Having a hearty appetite is a positive thing—except when I’m not hungry, which happens whenever my hearty appetite gets more than satiated at the previous meal. But a habit is a habit. If I approach lunch time with the preconceived idea that I’m going to put away a generous amount of food, I’m not taking into account how hungry I am. And I’ve done that for years. For example, when I was dieting, my view toward lunch was that it was going to be sparse, the price I had to pay to lose weight, so I had to tighten my belt and make do, regardless of my growling stomach. When I gave up dieting, at first I identified with the girl I used to be who could eat whatever she wanted and never gain an ounce, and I overdid it, just as I did during periods of bingeing, and just as I still do when I’m not paying attention to my hunger.

When I manage to eat mindfully, however, I realize that I don’t always have a hearty appetite. Sometimes, I want to eat nothing or just a little for lunch! For me, that doesn’t feel normal and makes me wonder if I’m coming down with something.

But recently I’ve been asking deeper questions. Can I be content with eating “just a little?” More to the point, can I give myself permission to carve out a new identity as a person whose intake varies, depending on my level of hunger? Who will I be if not the one with a hearty appetite? I’d like to think of myself as a discerning eater, a connoisseur instead of a bon vivant, or less flatteringly, a gourmand. After all, my tastes are changing as I get older. Perhaps as I get used to the connoisseur label, I’ll be able to internalize it. We’ll see.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jan (in Edmonds)
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 10:20:27

    Norma

    Thanks so much for being my cheering section regarding “dieting”. I struggle every day and wonder if something won’t give prior to the last week of May when dh and I go on a cruise to Alaska. Your post also reminded me of a birthday card that our daughter gave her dad on a birthday. It had to do with being a “corner sewer”. We still chuckle over the term.

    BTW, I’m writing! And am participating in a group that wants us to write 1,000 words a day for 28 days. Needless to say, I’m way behind, yet on the positive side must say that I have my plot pretty well in hand and mind and really look forward to the time I spend each day on it. Hope you’re doing well in that regard, too.

    Love,

    Jan 😉

    Reply

    • Norma
      Feb 09, 2011 @ 10:33:06

      I’m glad the post touched a chord with you, Jan. “Corner sewer” made me laugh. Good for you on the writing–1000 words per day is a challenge! Other than blogs, my writing consists mostly of editing, but I think I see the end of the tunnel. Thanks, Jan!

      Reply

  2. Judy Nill
    Feb 09, 2011 @ 11:16:08

    Very thoughtful comments, Norma. I believe it’s that sort of reflection which gets us closer and closer to the issues we grapple with. As you say, such awareness can be the beginning of a new “consumer” ID.

    Reply

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