Hunger Games

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“There’s no such thing as bad food–just different levels of hunger.”

This is one of the many pearls of wisdom coined by husband’s great uncle Charles, a WWII veteran. He was a fountain of cleverness.

When we got home from our two week beach vacation last month, I declared a massive food detox. No more Cheetos before noon, check. No more equating lunch with cookies, check. And no more driving through my most favorite local Mexican dive and ordering the most delectable steak, bean and guacamole burritos…sniff, check.

I got a little crazy and placed an embargo on all white flour and white sugar. I got tough on high fructose corn syrup and threw out the cold cereal. I splurged in that bone chilling refrigerated room in Costco and piled in the fresh fruits and veggies while ignoring the teeth chattering coming from the tots in my cart like they were pesky woodpeckers. Time to get this family healthy again!

But the kids are fickle fans of my fitful fare. One night, after an exhausting evening of riding their new bikes, salmon and brown rice really hit the spot. Clean plates. Clamors for seconds! But days later after a late lunch of frozen dino buddies, that same meal was suddenly labled “slimy” and “fishy.”

Last night after a long afternoon of touring museums, Luke begged me to make him a bowel of hot, steaming, steel cut oatmeal. I did. He slurped it up in 3 minutes flat and licked the bowl clean. This morning, I offered him the exact same meal but got a completely different response.

“No mom. My tummy is just too full of oatmeal. What else can I have?”

He rummage through the pantry, trying to find at least one plucky survivor from my big white sugar eradication of 2010. He found one. A big unopened bag of high fructose corn syrup itself: marshmallows. (I’d saved it from the carnage for an upcoming camp out.)

He moseyed on over to me with the air puffed bag clutched tightly over his heart. “How about this?

“You’re not hungry.”

“Yes, I am!” he insisted.

“If you were, the oatmeal would sound just as delicious to you as it did last night when you were hungry.”

“Okay…”

Twenty minutes and a good deal of fussin’ later he ate the oatmeal and a slice of plain whole wheat bread.

I suspect his body just needed those twenty minutes to go from a hunger level of one to a level eight. It doesn’t take long when your only 35 pounds.

For those of us who weigh slightly more than 35 pounds…well, it takes a bit longer. That why I’m still clinging to my diet soda vice like an aquaphobe clings to a life preserver.

But I can quit anytime I want. Really.

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