Thursday, May 02, 2013

Really Hungry

My therapist and I were working on the whole breakfast anxiety thing.  Realistically, I was mostly just pitching a little bit of a hissy fit about it.  "I'm going to keep doing it," I kept assuring her, where "it" is making prefab breakfasts in batches and eating them early in the day.  "I just also hate it.  I don't get really hungry until later in the morning.  So I'm never going to be really hungry for breakfast if I eat it earlier on, and it just makes me really anxious to eat something when I'm not all the way hungry."

This is when I remembered the things my parents used to say at the dinner table when I took seconds, or too much of something, or the wrong thing.  An extra spoonful of grated cheese.  The fat that curled in a delicious juicy, charred teardrop at the bottom of my lamb chop.  "Are you sure you're really hungry?"  "Do you really need that?"

This was well-intentioned.  Obviously.  They weren't suggesting I not eat when I was hungry.  Though why they thought I was eating it if I wasn't hungry for it does sort of elude me.

This is also a splitting point.  It's a passing-along of Cartesian dualism—the idea that you are a mind and a body and they are separate, the consciousness and the physical world.  I was sure I was really hungry, until hunger became a thing that needed justification, interrogation, a thing that needed intellectual investigation and confirmation.  A thing that became subject to conscious control.  A bodily thing in need of regulation.

And there is a connection here too to the idea of decision fatigue, and my own sense that what I want is to restore to eating a kind of predecisive status, which is to say not the "constant vigilance" "healthy choices" "willpower" stuff, because I have got other things to do with that part of my energy, but the status of instinct.  I want to make eating food into a thing that isn't an ongoing conscious activity.

But it's been a long and irritating day and I've not got the energy to explore those connections.  Later.  For now I will just observe that it's a little bit bizarre to realize that I have been saying to myself for twenty years exactly what my parents said to me when I was a child.  That it's only okay to eat if you're really hungry—that is, both verifiably hungry and extremely hungry.

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