These days, thanks to my transformation from walking womb to 24/7 milk bar, I am a girl with a hefty appetite. They say that nursing requires even more calories than pregnancy and I believe it. I’m not counting calories (yay!) but just guessing from the huge amounts of food I consume every few hours I’d say it’s a lot. Like NFL linebacker a lot.
This frightens me.
But before we delve deeper into my neuroses, I have a confession to make: I have a serious case of envy for anyone who has figured out to eat when they’re hungry. Yes, I am still trying to master this life skill that infants, dogs and the Tasmanian Devil do with gusto. Many of you blog friends have already figured out how to do this. Heather [who Eats Almond Butter], MizFit, Quix, Leslie [who Never Says Diet] and many others of you have written about how you made peace with your hunger pangs. And every time I read one of your inspirational stories I think to myself, “someday that is going to be me.”
But someday is not today. And today I hate that I’m so hungry. It seems like a cruel trick of nature to saddle women who are still holding on to half their pregnancy weight with an appetite that makes werewolves look reserved. In the past I’ve embraced my hunger, sometimes too much, enjoying that dizzy emptiness. But being solely responsible for providing a little person’s nutrition keeps me from going that route again. She needs calories and I can’t produce those out of thin air.
So I eat. I eat mostly healthy things, albeit loads of them. Case in point: for lunch I ate an entire 1-lb box of baby spinach as a side dish. Who eats an entire pound of spinach in one sitting? Even Popeye exercised portion control with those puny cans. (We won’t talk about the jumbo jar of mixed nuts that contains 35 servings that I ate in one week.) I also eat things I would never normally eat. Pizza, sausage, cookies and entire packages of gummy worms disappear before my kids even see them, much less get a chance to complain that I’m not sharing. I hate that I do that.
Every morning (question: When does morning start, exactly? Is it at the 12 a.m. feeding, the first official one of the new day? Or is it the 3 a.m. feeding because I can’t get back to sleep after? Or perhaps the 5:30 a.m. feeding because dawn is hinting on the horizon?) I resolve to not eat everything in sight. And every evening I fall into bed disappointed with myself.
I suppose it all comes down to control. We’re always told that the secret is to exercise more will power, control our appetite. But these days my appetite is controlling me. My hunger feels like an emergency that I must respond to. It will not be ignored, distracted or otherwise toyed with. If I do manage to stave it off, it slaps me down with a fierce case of of the low blood sugar crankies.
When I do finally manage to string a coherent thought together – no mean feat in this household – it scares me that I’m not even three weeks post partum and am already freaking out about food and weight. (But hey at least I’m not freaking out about freaking out!) I won’t always be nursing so I should just trust my body and give it what it wants, right? Trust. Gah.
I have serious trust issues with my body.
Short of begging Geneen Roth to switch brains with me, what can I do? How do you tell the difference between real hunger and just eating? How do you strike that balance between controlling yourself and trusting yourself? Is it even possible to do both or do you fall into one camp or the other?