The doctor’s office called the other day to remind me of a test scheduled for Friday morning (today) at 11 am. “Don’t forget,” the woman says casually, “nothing to eat or drink for four hours prior to the test.”
Okay, seriously, that means that on Friday morning I could grill a steak, bake a large potato, steam an entire head of broccoli, slather all of it with butter, sour cream and hollandaise sauce, have a slice of pie, and wash it all down with a gallon of chocolate milk. As long as I could manage to scarf it all up by 7 am!! But what registers back in that automatic, reptilian part of my brain is this:
How much psychic energy has gone to this one very untrue and overly dramatic reaction over the past two days? Quite a bit, I am ashamed to admit. I plotted and schemed. Figured out exactly when I would have to start drinking my coffee, debated whether I should actually set my alarm (which I have done only once since I retired several years ago), and ran through numerous possible menu options for an early breakfast. AND thought about whether the hospital cafeteria would be a good place to eat or if I could make it to a nearby restaurant to eat something as soon as possible after the test (because, obviously, I would be so HUNGRY).
Anyone who has a long-term struggle with compulsive eating probably knows as much about weight-loss plans as the most successful diet gurus on the planet. Not counting the fad diets and pills that are touted on questionable websites or television ads, there are a number of extremely practical and sensible plans out there. My favorite is Weight Watchers, and this is the plan I am currently attempting to follow. But the one piece of advice that always sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard to me is this: “Don’t let yourself become hungry.” Yes, I have experienced a few hunger pangs here and there. Fasting on Yom Kippur or prior to surgery maybe. But HUNGRY? No way. Most of the time it is just the opposite. I keep eating long past the point of physical fullness or satisfaction, or begin eating just because……… Other than the few times of purposeful fasting mentioned above, I don’t think I’ve been hungry since I was born.
I do not eat too much because I am hungry. And I doubt that most of us dealing with compulsive eating do so because we are physically hungry. We do not really want food, but food is an easy substitute for all those other things that we desire, but are not quite sure that we can find or accomplish, or even deserve. So this morning I ate yogurt and fruit and sat down to write, arranged to meet a friend later today for good conversation and will drive off to my appointment not worrying about whether I will be hungry. Because even if I am, it will not be a crisis, but instead an opportunity to think about what I really want and really deserve.