Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's Really Eating Us?

This week, our topic was all about recognizing our hunger signals..... how to listen to our body, and as our leader said, "honor our hunger." We have to recognize that it is there, feed it well without overfeeding, and move on. Wow.... there are so many topics there, I truly hardly know where to start.

One of the things I kept thinking about is that we need to honor our physical hunger, and yet acknowledge our other hungers.... which when unsatisfied can lead us to overeat. We can't satisfy the emotional or spiritual hunger within us, so we stuff it down with food we don't need. Many years ago, I bought a great devotional guide called Food for the Hungry Heart by Cynthia Rowland McClure, with daily thoughts, prayers, etc. At the time, I was climbing toward my heaviest weight, knowing that a lot of what she said was true -- but denying that it really applied to me. Right? I was happy. I had a full life. But I am amazed at just how much better my life is since I started this journey toward health and wholeness. There were things I was trying to pacify with food instead of with deeper introspection. I was in denial - Don't Even kNow I Am Lying.

As I reflected on the topic, I thought about a kid named Franky (not his real name) who was very close to some of my extended family. Franky was born with a slew of difficulties to overcome: congenital physical issues and limitations, as well as mental disabilities which just compounded things. Add to that one distant parent and one who was overindulgent ... it all combined to make a recipe for disaster. By the time he was a teen, he was already right around 300 pounds. Indulgent Parent would throw up hands and say, "Well, am I supposed to padlock the cabinets?" or "But Mickey D's is his favorite place...." As a teen, Franky was sent to a major children's medical facility in another state for intervention. It worked for a while, but he never seemed to be able to set limits for himself -- and the indulgent parent just couldn't face saying no to Franky.

A couple of years ago, they discovered that Franky had yet another problem: Prader-Willi Syndrome. It suddenly made perfect sense: it wasn't just Franky's mental limits giving him troubles in managing food, he truly physically lacked the control mechanism for satiety. Time between meals or snacks or mindless eating meant zero ... he was always hungry. His health, already fragile enough from his childhood situations, was shot to pieces by his girth. Sadly, it is very little wonder that he died before age 30 about a year ago. He was cremated because a casket for someone his size was way more than his family could afford.

Franky couldn't get full, physically (and in other ways too). And so many of us are the same way, never getting satisfied no matter what. The food satisfies our physical hunger but not the soul ache. As my first leader was fond of saying, "If hunger is not the problem, food is not the answer." And she was right. No hamburger, pizza, cake, pie, ice cream, popcorn, whatever will soothe a pained heart or soul .... it just compounds it by making you feel guilty for overindulging. It's okay to cry. It's okay to be angry. It's okay to say "No, that doesn't work for me" or "No, I can't do that."

Feed the true hunger. Find it and feed it tenderly, gently, slowly and just to satisfaction. Dig deep. Sure, there may be pain in the discovery, but it is far better than trying to mask it with something that isn't going to solve the issue.

And honor your physical hunger by making good choices when you do need to eat.

Live well. Laugh often. Love deep and strong.

1 comment:

Angie {Successful2gether} said...

Totally agree! Know your limits and your body, and just b.c someone tries to guilt you in to it, you dont have too! Whether b/c you dont want it, it doesnt work for you or simply if you eat one more think you feel like your sides will burst!
Great writing Annette!