Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A "healthy" appetite

I heard Frank Bruni on my favourite public radio station, KPCC, yesterday. He's promoting his new book, "Born Round" which details his lifelong battle with his weight, and how that was impacted by his long years as the famed New York Times restaurant critic.

My favourite part was when he described how, as a baby, he would howl when he hadn't been given what he had determined was enough food. In fact, he cried so hard and long, that he would end up throwing up, thereby needing even more food! None of his brothers had that issue. For some reason, only he was blessed/cursed with that kind of appetite.

Today, after years of trying every diet out there, and making up a few himself, he's come to realise that he needs to eat a 3500 calories a day. That sounded like a helluva lot to me; I don't count my calories at all, but I think I'm supposed to be eating somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1500 a day. (You can figure out how much the USDA thinks you should consume, here).

BUT, and this is the amazing part, rather than limit his calorie intake to the conventional levels, he just makes sure to exercise enough every day to maintain his weight below 200 lbs.

What a generous way to look at yourself. So much of weight loss theory is about punishing yourself, no pain, no gain... I restrict indulging my sweet tooth to once a month. Growing up, I often compared my plate to my sister's, whose more delicate appetite made me feel like a whopping great big oaf. My close friend and work mate in New York had a small appetite too; I would match my lunches to hers, and while I lost so much weight that I was the thinnest I've ever been, let me tell ya... I was hungry! I still do it now. And come to think of it, I wonder if I subconsciously pick skinny friends with small appetites to keep myself in check? Hmmmmm. That's not entirely true, but there is something there. Thank goodness I picked a husband who can and will eat an entire rack of baby back ribs, twice over, and want dessert. Soul mates indeed!

Bruni talked about exercising self-control of course, about how he still has to grit his teeth every now and then to keep himself from eating more than he needs to, but I was struck by the compassion in his voice when he talked about how he had come to accept that he was born with a big appetite. That's just the way it is. Perhaps I could learn a thing or two from him.


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