When I think back on my childhood, it seems like the Pillsbury dough-boy was always playing my song: Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven…..
Like many of us, I grew up in a family whose life centered around the dining table. Every holiday or special event was about something special to eat. “Are you hungry?” was a question that was always answered in the affirmative — who would turn down Mom’s mostocelli or Grandma’s noodle kugel because of something as ridiculous as having already eaten enough?
In our little suburban tract home, we started and ended each day with a full stomach. Our nightly ritual would find us gathered in our cozy kitchen to review the day’s activities, share victories, defeats and honey buns.
To this day I can’t tell you a single detail about the specifics of those heartfelt family interchanges, but I still remember the hot gooey sweetness of those honey buns as they came steaming out from under our avocado green stove-top broiler, and the hiss of the cold butter as it washed down over their crackling, crunchy tops.
We moaned as we ate them — could life really get any better than this? And yet slowly over the years, it seemed the more I ate, the hungrier I got. There weren’t enough honey buns in the world to fill the emptiness that lived inside me.
No one ever talked about hunger and so this became my shameful secret. Did people have needs they couldn’t fill with a Pop Tart? To paraphrase writer Geneen Roth, “You can never get enough of what you don’t really want,” but really, hunger for food was the only choice I was given.
Although I spent years trying to starve my hunger into submission, it would take a giant leap of faith, fueled by absolute desperation, to start honoring my appetite and let it lead me towards a new way of thinking about myself, my life and food.