When I was struggling with weight, I’m pretty sure I never knew what it meant to feel satisfied after eating.
On the physical side, I certainly wasn’t paying enough (or really any) attention to my body to know when I had eaten what I needed; even if I started eating out of hunger, why let a little thing like being full keep me from having more, if food was still available and tasted good? (The obvious answer, of course, is that it meant I gained more weight, but that wasn’t always easy to remember in the moment.)
Emotionally, too, I could never be satisfied. If I was in a dieting phase, I might not overeat, but I’d feel restricted by the meal and already be thinking ahead to when I was allowed to eat again. Or if I was in a rebellious or overeating phase, I might have too much and start feeling guilty about it, sometimes even before I was finished. Time between eating was mostly spent feeling virtuous or beating myself up or adding up calories to figure out what I could eat the rest of the day or something else related to food or weight.
The idea that I could have just enough, so I wasn’t hungry anymore and wasn’t even thinking about eating, wasn’t a concept that ever occurred to me. I knew my mom could do that, but to me it seemed as alien as anything in a sci-fi show.
Which is why, even now, that feeling can take me by surprise. Part of it is the sheer physical delight, because when I eat to the point of satisfaction, I am energized, focused, engaged, ready to go on to the next part of my day with enthusiasm. I don’t feel sluggish or tired, or disinclined to move because my waistband is too tight, nor am I trying to ignore the fact that I might still be hungry. It’s quite marvelous.
But even more wonderful is the emotional sense. If you’ve never been obsessed with food, you likely can’t understand how much it can consume your life. And if you have been obsessed with food, you may not realize the impact until you’re not in that place anymore.
It’s incredibly freeing, to eat a meal and then leave it, and focus on whatever else life might bring without counting calories or grams or points in the back of your head, or searching for excuses to eat, or finding ways not to eat, or wondering what other people think of you eating.
Instead, I’m simply left feeling happy, that all is right with my world, especially knowing that I can eat more when I need to and have that experience all over again. It fills me with joy but also gratitude that I know, now, what feeling satisfied is like.