Hunger Games

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I am cleaning out the pantry, thinking about hunger. Well, thinking about food, too. I am reading Georgie Fear’s book, Lean Habits For Lifelong Weight Loss, which I actually think is great. I have embraced the whole change-your-habits-to-lose-weight thing. She is not a fan of the idea of eating little meals through out the day, or the practice that some weight loss gurus promote: stop eating when you are 80% full. She recommends making sure you are hungry when you eat, and then eating until you are full.  Not stuffed, but content. My apparatus to judge fullness hasn’t always been in good working order, but taking the time to pay attention to my body and my needs seems to go a long way toward being able to determine my hunger and satiety.

She goes on to say that to eat less than she wants all day long at every mini-meal leaves her “unsatisfied or partially satisfied, perpetually.” She adds: “I don’t want to go though life sub-satisfied in any way, come to think of it. That sounds like a pretty raw deal.”  Amen, sister.

I am pondering all of this while I am digging around in the pantry, trying to  make some order out of chaos, and then

I find a box of Stove Top stuffing.

OK, I actually find 3 boxes of Stove Top, left over from the holidays. I (used to) make two kinds of stuffing at Thanksgiving. One, a lovely dried fruit and nut version with fresh whole grain bread — very fancy . The other kind is what I really want: Stove Top, with added giblets, onions and celery sauteed in butter, and sometimes sausage for good measure. And that is the stuffing that always gets devoured, because I am not the only one who finds this food evocative. It’s just like mom used to make.

I suddenly want a little something to eat.

A bit later I find some marshmallow cream. Why would a grown woman have marshmallow cream, you might ask? Because that is the secret ingredient in really yummy homemade fudge. If I do something horrible and am facing the firing squad and am offered a last meal? They can just bring me fudge. A bit of Stove Top might be nice, too.

Suddenly I am thinking not only of my childhood but my daughter’s, baking at Christmas with her… And I am soooooo hungry.

I dig further back into the pantry and notice a peculiar smell. Kinda like a mildewed washcloth. I started thinking: something well past the pull date? Or something more sinister, like a dead mouse? And I want to eat. The healthier among you you might be thinking: you smell something gross and you want to eat? Uh, well, yeah. Kinda. Because: stress. Even mild stress seems to shoot a signal through my brain that says: You must be hungry! Soothe yourself with food; it’ll all be alright.

I realize it takes time and attention and intention to change some of my habits. I might not be able to control a stray thought about food or a random craving, but I don’t have to act upon it. Dinner is not too long from now, and I will practice really enjoying my meal, and stop when I am content.

I finish my task. There is no dead mouse; I wipe the shelves clean and there is no lingering odor. My pantry is clean, and I don’t need to eat over any thoughts or feelings that drifted through my head while I worked.  Progress.

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