Do you ever have those days where you feel like your stomach is a bottomless pit? Boy howdy, yesterday was one of those days for me. When I was overweight, exceptionally hungry days like this were shame-inducing. How could I be hungry when I clearly needed to lose weight? In my worst days with anorexia, these days were equally as shame-inducing. How could I still be hungry when I just ate x amount of calories? I must be a monster who will never stop being hungry. I had better pay really close attention to what I’m eating to make sure I don’t eat too much. These are just a few of the challenging thoughts that go through my head on hungry days like yesterday.
Then…another thought enters my head and pushes those other thoughts over to the sidelines. Maybe I’m just fucking hungry. Maybe I’m hungry because my body needs food to carry out every single thing it is capable of doing. Maybe I’m hungry because I’m healing from months upon months of denying my body adequate nutrition. Maybe I’m hungry because I didn’t eat enough yesterday or the day before. I have no way of knowing why I was so hungry yesterday, but the beautiful thing is that I know very definitively that I was indeed hungry yesterday. Hunger has only one solution: food. Although I know this with every ounce of my logic, responding to hunger is still challenging for me on days like this.
It’s ironic that I’m facing the challenge of responding to hunger lately, because I recently learned that I have accidentally been starving my cat to death. Before you call the ASPCA, allow me to explain. I have this cat. Her name is Ivy and she is the clingiest, neediest cat you will ever meet. She’s kind of the worst, and lately she’s been even more of a nuisance than usual.
In the last month or two, she has been completely losing her mind over food whenever I am cooking, and if I give her any soft food she eats it in its entirety in seconds flat. I grew annoyed with her, pushed her off of the counter when she tried to jump up, and carried along without thinking of it for months. The other day, however, I picked her up and realized something. She was one skinny cat. Scary skinny. I started thinking back, remembering how strange she had been around food and becoming aware of the fact that I couldn’t remember the last time I had seen her eating her regular, dry cat food. I realized that her fur was a mess. It seemed like she had completely stopped grooming herself. I decided to take a peek in her mouth and, to my surprise, found that she had very few teeth. I felt like an idiot as I had the dawning realization that she was acting hungry all of the time because she was hungry all of the time.
Since discovering my major faux pas as a pet owner, I’ve been diligently feeding Ivy soft cat food whenever she acts like she’s hungry. She is mine to take care of, just as my body is mine to take care of. In the same way that I wouldn’t deny this cat food (knowingly), I cannot deny myself food. We deserve to take care of ourselves as well as we take care of other people and animals. Each time we get hungry, we are faced with a decision. Do we respond and give our bodies what they need, or do we restrict and allow our disorder to weasel its way back in? I am far, far from perfect when it comes to responding adequately, but the more I practice caring for my body, the easier it gets. When we are hungry, we deserve to eat. No questions asked.