Appreciating my appetite

Many moons ago, I explored acupuncture, hoping to have an answer to my weight problem, allergies and stress. Before my first session, I remember the acupuncturist was very interested in my appetite. I answered like I usually do when someone asks me how my appetite is, “It’s big.” What the acupuncturist said next surprised me. She said I should be grateful for a good appetite, because many people struggle to eat on a daily basis. That blew my mind. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve ever experienced a bad appetite, and now, one of my telltale signs of being too stressed is when I’m not thinking about what I’m going to eat next. There’s the type of stress that makes me want to cram everything crunchy into my mouth, and then, when I get really spastic, I don’t want anything to do with food. Thankfully that doesn’t happen too often anymore now that I’m learning stress management techniques in therapy, but isn’t it interesting that an appetite is actually something to be grateful for? You could have a lack of appetite from illness, or just never really be hungry. I can’t imagine it!

One of my coworkers once told me if there was a pill he could take instead of having to eat three square meals, he’d do it in a heartbeat. He found the whole act of eating annoying — the cost, the preparation, the time factor, the having to chew it. When he said that I was shocked, because I find unreasonable joy in food — the preparation, the smells, the tastes, the textures, the social aspect. In fact, one of the positive parts of the detox was that I cooked a lot, roasting vegetables, pureeing fruits, experimenting with new squashes. I love food, beyond just the taste and the fact that it fuels me, but how it’s a hobby, a learning experience and a form of medicine.

My husband has a healthy appetite, I’d say, but it’s nowhere near as robust as mine. I’m usually the one finishing my meal at restaurants when he diligently takes home half. My mother is the same way; she can out eat most grown men any day of the week. I’ve moved past the shame factor of having a big appetite because there’s really nothing to be ashamed about, as long as you stop when you’re full and eat things of reasonable nutritional value. However, my big challenge is always “Am I finishing this because I’m still hungry, or am I finishing it because I feel like I should?” It’s these things that are important to realize about appetite, learning how to fine-tune it to keep it in control, to acknowledge the differences between hunger and emotional eating. It’s an art I’m still working on.

How would you rate your appetite — big, small, non-existent? Do you see what I mean about learning to appreciate your appetite?

13 thoughts on “Appreciating my appetite

  1. BIG. You know how some people are like “Oh, I got so busy, I forgot to eat!”? I NEVER forget to eat. EVER. No matter how busy I am, I am always thinking about food. (no wonder I got fat, hahaha…)

    The only time I couldn’t eat was when I told my ex-husband I wanted a divorce… for about a week after I filed and moved out, I had zero appetite. It didn’t last long. 🙂

  2. I would say I have a big appetite! Growing up I would clean my plate and finish off what my two sisters couldn’t eat. My mom would proudly say “Monique is such a good eater.” I love food too and don’t find it inconvenient at all!

    I’ve never experienced stress eating though. For me it was the exact opposite, I went through a period of time where I was depressed and just couldn’t eat. My stomach was in knots and I had varying levels of anxiety 24/7. I am glad that time is far behind me and I can just enjoy food!

  3. YES! I love this! I adore eating most of the time, but these days I don’t focus on it as much, at least during the day (i’m a big fancy dinner girl). This is a good thing, I’ve come a long, long way from obsessing over what I would eat next to focusing on one meal a day that I put a lot of effort and time in to cook and make delicious. I also sometimes wish I could eat more but simply can’t because my stomach capacity has shrunk! 20ish minutes later, I’m usually over it!

  4. It’s funny. The way I knew I was realllllly sick when I had mono was that I had zero appetite…like, I couldn’t finish half a bowl of matzoh ball soup. I wasn’t nauseous, but the thought of food was awful. It’s a very creepy feeling for me because I love to eat.

    Of course there are times when I’m like, “really body? you want another taco?” but I think I’d take having an appetite over not having one any day. It was really depressing not to want food, partly, because like you, it’s more than just food. It’s a hobby and an art.

    Bodies are weird.

    • Bodies are so, so weird which explains why naturally curious people like us are both fascinated by them! love you pinguino! xo

  5. I used to have a really large appetite but lately I’ve noticed that I can’t eat anywhere near as much as I used to. I still order as much as I used to, mostly because I have this crazy fear of not having enough to eat – like that’s ever happened! – but I keep having to take all of the extra home, so I’m trying to order less then go back if I need more. Crazy huh?

  6. One of the hardest things for me always is stopping when I’m full. I find that I’m full at the most inconvenient times during the meal – like when I have 1/4 of my food left. It’s not enough to take home, but if I leave it there, I feel wasteful. Luckily, my husband will usually (happily) finish my food for me.

  7. This is SO interesting! I remember noticing this as a kid- when I’d keep going back for slices of pizza after even BOYS had stopped, or at my friend’s when we were allowed to make our own Eggo’s and I ate six and was still hungry, and my friend commented on how surprising that was. I always realized my appetite was larger. Once I had a boyfriend comment on how embarrassing it was that I had eaten more than him. Maybe that’s why I ended up with big appetite Big Daddy 🙂 My struggle is, as you say, to make sure what I’m eating isn’t just carbs and actually has nutritional value! I don’t know what would be worse- no appetite sounds pretty bad too though, I had never thought about that!

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