Friday, May 31, 2013

Feeling hungry won't hurt you: the psychology of food and me

When I was in grad school (over 17 years ago, marked by the re-emergence of the 17-year cicadas in NYC that were there my first summer) I had some super lean times, money-wise. I'd been offered what felt like the chance of a lifetime to head off to the country's biggest city to study urban planning. With just $400 in my pocket and knowing ONE person, I went. (My parents just didn't have money to help's just the way it was, not because they didn't want to.)

By October 1995, my fellowship had kicked in with a mere $700/month. Found a SUPER cheap apartment for $450 that was about 1.5 hours away from school on transit. Transit was (at the time) $1.25 each way, everyday.

So needless to say, I was BROKE all the time. Slept on the floor. Had zero furniture. Had a phone but my first long distance bill was $90 so I stopped using it. There were days at the end of the month that I would have money to get to school, but not to come back. (There was no such thing as discounted fares or automated transit cards back then. 1 token/1 ride.)

So with zero money, I never ever ate out. I honestly had in my kitchen just a few things: saltine crackers and pasta. On rare occasions, margarine (butter cost too much) or spaghetti sauce to add flavor to my pasta. Water or tea to drink. I never ate save money. In fact, I usually only ate at night.

I dropped so much weight that first semester!

But come second semester, I finally got that internship I was supposed to have...and it was PAID a whopping $12/hour with at least 20 hours each week. I'd instantly doubled my income!

And with that, I suddenly realized how much I hated feeling hungry. I started eating a bagel breakfast at a diner every school day and discovered i liked breakfast! I ate out for lunch every day I worked at my office in midtown Manhattan...mcDonald's and this awesome Chinese food...and when the first Hooters opened in Manhattan, I gladly introduced it to my fellow New Yorkers.

I quickly gained back the weight I'd lost, and then some. I'd eat even if I wasn't hungry. On my way home (the 6 line, to the L line to the bus, then walk 7 blocks) I'd stop at the store or this pizzeria for a new fave "garlic knots" (little balls of garlic-infused dough baked in the pizza oven, then brushed with butter)...even when I wasn't hungry...because I didn't want to feel hungry later.

My weight has been up and down my entire adult life. And sometimes I feel like that same 24 year old back in Brooklyn...hoarding food. Eating because I can. Eating so I don't have the slightest bit of hunger or discomfort. Eating to fill other voids like being lonely. Eating because right at that moment, it tastes delicious and I want that immediate pleasure. back then and still true today, i honestly feel relieved when my refrigerator is full.

I'm especially a night eater. A friend was talking about her husband and called him a raccoon...said he scavenges at night "what is in here to eat? Is there anything sweet? Do we have any..." I laughed, but that is SOOOOO me!

I can eat fabulously healthy all day long, but if I'm not careful, I eat too much at night. I've been dabbling in juicing, but when I get home at night I still eat a big meal. Quickly. No discomfort allowed! Good food choices are often thrown out the window. On days that I run, I'm especially ravenous.

The last 2 evenings though, I didn't "stuff" myself. Went to bed feeling, well, not hungry, but just not a full stomach. A foreign feeling to me, quite honestly. As I lay here now at 5-something in the morning, I'm slightly hungry. And it's not killed me yet!!

I must change these habits or I will struggle for the rest of my life.

Oh, the psychology of food and me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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