Do you judge yourself for being hungry?
On my daughter’s 10th birthday, I picked her up from school to take her out to lunch at the Chinese buffet. As we nibbled on moo goo gai pan, I looked up from my food and observed all the other people in the restaurant with us. They were gathered in groups, talking; cutting up chicken for their toddlers; laughing with their co-workers, eating by themselves while skimming the paper, going back to the buffet for seconds.
I was struck by how human we all were, nourishing our bodies. We had a shared camaraderie as we ate together, even in our separate tables. With this togetherness, the voices about, “You should eat this, you shouldn’t eat that,” were silent. In its place was a rightness, a feeling of belonging that we are all eating together, in this room, at 12 noon, just as it should be.
Have you ever looked at your tender human needs, including your need for food, and felt that belonging? Have you ever felt compassion for your body that gets hungry and tired on a regular basis? Have you ever felt compassion for your hunger?
If we don’t water a plant, it dies. If we don’t feed the dog, it will die. And yet we feel like our hunger should be controlled, minimized, erased. You even see this in some diet books as a sign of progress – “I don’t feel hungry anymore,” as if hunger is a character flaw to be eliminated.
I’m here to encourage you to embrace your hunger, humanity and needs.
Yes, we may take this hunger and turn it into something else. It can be a path to suffering. Yes, I get that, and I can do that, too.
But our intentions are good. Your wanting to nourish yourself with food, at its most basic level, is something good, trustable, and kind. For now, for just a moment, see if you can silence the voices about what you should or shouldn’t eat and pause. Look at your feeding your body for what it is: an act of love.