Decision: Food or Hydration?

a grain of infinity
Feb 8 · 4 min read

2. Eat when I’m hungry, don’t eat when I’m not. Have tea or water — or wait it out instead.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Last month’s Crowdsourcing Accountability was the launch and January installment of a 12-part series: healthier eating goals for 2020.

Crowdsourcing accountability works three ways:

(1) I’m sharing my commitments with the world whether or not anyone reads about it. I have gone public with my intention and therefore I answer to more than just myself — I answer to the higher power, to the collective of which I’m a contributing part. This is an approach I’ve had success with all my life, but never before have the stakes or participation level been so high. There is no limit to the number of people who could be rooting for me. There is no limit to the number of people I can root for. I am accountable to everyone who reads for support, my learned knowledge, and my work.

(2) The steady, laddered approach works; instead of trying to reframe or replace 12 habits at at once (multitasking being impossible for most people) — focusing on a new one each month while hopefully not forgetting the previous ones — is far more likely to succeed.

(3) Finally, these monthly objectives are commitments toward greater health and longevity, not a diet to lose weight. At this point, I care about my weight only to the extent that it serves me or doesn’t serve me. If weighing fewer pounds means less huffing and puffing at the top of a flight of stairs, then achieving that outcome serves me. More importantly, it serves others, as I am better able to make a positive difference in the world around me, something I can’t do if I’m sick or dead.

With January 2020 now history (already?) I’m here to say so far so good. If the fit of my clothes doesn’t lie, being accountable to you is helping me stay on track.

It’s easy to forget — if we ever even knew — what hunger is, and instead to eat feelings, eat boredom, or eat anger, especially when what I’m eating is over-processed chemicals scientifically formulated to feel good in my mouth then betray my body. It’s also more satisfying to eat than drink, even though most often this body is asking for hydration, not fuel, considering the reserves of fuel already stored around my waist.

In general, to those of us who are privileged enough to have time to to write about feeling it rather than using that same time to work or scavenge enough food to avoid it, hunger is a complete stranger. That pang we felt if we worked through lunch and suddenly looked up and saw it was 2 o’clock wasn’t hunger as much as it was just a reminder that we missed a habitual or conditioned appointment with food.

I use the word “hungry” because it’s essentially the opposite of fed or full, but in my life context — in which I enjoy the privilege of making the choice to eat or not to — I really mean “appropriate.” Eat when it’s appropriate. Don’t eat when eating isn’t appropriate.

Appropriate: Have breakfast to fuel your morning. Have lunch with a friend to catch up. Have dinner around the family dinner table, devices put away as you enjoy each other and food cooked with love.

Not: Boredom, anger, sadness, self-pity, loneliness, convenience, 12 o’clock, afternoon slump, donuts in the break room, or “I deserve this!” are siren calls best answered with a sip of water or a cup of tea.

I spent the first four days of this month on a cruise ship celebrating my husband’s birthday. I’m not gonna lie; those four days were not spent thinking about accountability or health commitments — they were spent enjoying a change of pace, a few extra hours to study, a casino, silly blockbuster movies full of explosions and car chases, goofy live shows and trivia games, shopping, a boundless silent azure sea, and local fare in a foreign city. On board, there was food, food, and more food, of a variety, ubiquity, and volume rarely seen on land.

I enjoyed the cruise. I enjoyed the food. I enjoyed too many lattes and too many hours sitting in a wing chair on the promenade deck. I even enjoyed playing a epic awful nine holes of miniature golf. I’m grateful I have the means to go on a cruise; I’m grateful for all I enjoy every day.

Gratitude isn’t an emotion; gratitude is a way of living. Gratitude is honoring the god or fate or lucky stars that brought abundance, sufficiency, inconsistency, or even hardscrabble hardship, by living moderately and by not taking what you don’t need — even when you can and even when nobody but you cares if you did.

For February 2020, living gratefully means not reaching for food at the wrong time or for the wrong reasons; it will still be there when it’s time.

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