Why Don’t You Just Eat Again?

I changed my relationship with food and didn’t realize it until after the transformation.

A while back, I was breastfeeding my baby. People with experience know: You cannot diet. You cannot starve yourself. You turn to galactagogue foods that help fuel milk production. These tend to be high-protein and high-fiber options like lean meat, eggs, dairy, lentils, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. You live a life in service to lactation, which means staying hydrated and nourished as often as possible.

This was a great thing for me. No more skinny minnie 300-calorie bullshit salads with a splash of vinaigrette. Lunch became salad topped with chicken or beans, tossed in a creamy dressing, served with a side of avocado toast… and a can of Olipop. I liked it. So I stuck with it.

Because along the way, I stopped thinking about food and nutrition (or lack thereof) as a way to “look” better. I don’t have time for that shit anymore. I’ve got a family to take care of, a home to look after, and a day job to do. I need energy to get through my day. And ignoring my growling belly because it’s “not lunchtime yet” simply ceased to be an option for me. I live a life in service to my family and community, which means I need to put my nourishment first. I need to feel good before I can do any good work. In the quest to feel good, my menu expanded, leaving no room for guilt. Yes to salads with avocado toast because it feels good to have a big, vitamin-rich lunch. Yes to chocolate before bedtime because it’s fun to eat dessert with my partner while we watch The Bear. Yes to swigging an ice cold beer while flipping steaks on a grill because there isn’t a single better thirst quencher while the sun beats down on my shoulders.

Weirdly, I hadn’t thought about this at all. Not until I listened to Geraldine DeRuiter on Kara Swisher’s podcast. As Geraldine was writing her book, If You Can’t Take the Heat: Tales of Food, Feminism, and Fury, she talked to several dietitians to better understand women’s relationship with food.

What struck me was a simple statement she quoted from a dietitian: “Why don’t you just eat again?”

This was in reference to trying to eat foods that feel more filling. How about instead of trying to find ways to feel full, you just eat again so that you get full?

It dawned on me that I hadn’t felt that feeling of “I’m hungry but I’m not allowed to eat because I need to stay under 1,100 calories today,” in a long time. Because in my own motherhood journey, I walked away from the lifestyle of perpetual-hunger-in-service-to-thinness. Miso-glazed salmon bowls, roasted broccoli with a ridiculous amount of black pepper, Hot Cheetos, ice cream, cookies, jugs of water, and always-margaritas with tacos just became a natural part of my everyday life.

But don’t be like me: Don’t make yourself give birth to children before you realize you shouldn’t starve yourself. Just go eat again.

Photo by Corey Watson on Unsplash