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Fill Her Up

My son recently came home from his friend’s house, where he’d been playing outside all afternoon, and ran down to the basement to use his video game.

”Honey, come up and have some dinner first,” I called down to him.

“I’m not hungry right now,” he called back.

You’d have thought he was trying to explain the theory of relativity, I was so confused. I stood at the top of the stairs for several moments, muttering to myself. “What does that mean, ‘I’m not hungry’? What is he trying to say? ‘I’m not hungry.’ Is that even English? Who eats because they’re hungry?” I then just walked away, shaking my head.

What I’ve always wanted for my kids is a healthy respect for, well, being healthy. I want them to eat right and get plenty of exercise as a lifestyle, not a weight-management program. I don’t want them ever to worry about their body image the way I did as a child, and quite frankly, as I still do as an adult.

Of course, I also didn’t want them to be sarcastic and that’s not working out so well, so color me surprised to find my kids seem to have a healthy attitude toward food. They eat when they’re hungry, and they stop when they’re full. It seems so easy, so uncomplicated, so natural. It makes me crazy, I tell you.

I have never said the words “I’m,” “not” and “hungry” in the same sentence. This doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t ever a time that I’m not hungry, although I’m guessing here because I don’t know if I’ve ever given my body a chance to get there. What it does mean, and there is no guesswork involved in this one, is that in many cases, eating has nothing to do with hunger.

For example, eating can be driven by time of day or day of week; by how much work one has; by how much one desires to put off performing said work; by how much cleaning one has to do and, again, how much one wants to delay doing it.

Eating is also a function, in some lives, of regularly scheduled mealtimes; regularly scheduled snack times, including but not limited to mid-morning snack, mid-afternoon snack, pre- and post-dinner snack, bedtime snack, post-Sex and the City-reruns snack, and “child waking up from nightmare” snack; pet feeding times; and talking on the telephone.

Then you’ve got your frame-of-mind elements thrown in. Some people eat to celebrate, some people when they’re depressed, some when they’re happy, some when they’re anxious, some when they’re overwhelmed, some when they’re bored, some when they’re angry, some when they’re sad, some when they’re excited, some when they’re calm, and some when their hormones are so out of whack from PMS or menopause that they don’t know which end is up.

Then there are those who have to eat because the sun’s shining, because it’s raining, because it’s cold or it’s hot, because it’s snowing or because it’s not snowing, because they don’t like thunder or because they’re slightly ticked off that a hurricane has yet to carry their name.

There’s also activity-related eating. Some people have to eat when they’re reading the paper, when they’re driving, when they’re in the shower, when they’re standing over their spouse’s shoulder criticizing their typing skills, when they’re watching their children at their fifth straight sporting event of the day, when they’re folding laundry, and some when they’re doing laundry after dropping food on it while they were folding it.

And we’re not even talking about the big draws: eating because something tastes good or simply because it’s there. I haven’t even factored in those reasons. It’s as if they’re so obvious as to be insulting.

No wonder I didn’t understand my son. He only eats when his body tells him it needs food. I, on the other hand, can eat through nausea and vomiting—when my body tells me it specifically does not need more food. So if all these eating triggers applied to me, and I’m not saying they do, but if they did, I could theoretically not have experienced true hunger in the last 40 years.

Phew! I sure am glad I solved that mystery. And hey, guess what? I’ve worked up an appetite doing it. I can go eat!         

Maggie Lamond Simone is a book author, award-winning writer and mother of two living in Baldwinsville. Reach her at msimone@twcny.rr.com.

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