Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat #3: What Are You Hungry For?

“My father believes hunger is in the mind. I know differently. I know that hunger is in the mind and the body and the heart and the soul.”
― Roxane Gay, Hunger

Hello Beautiful People,

Welcome to Part #3 of Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat! For Parts #1 and #2, here ya’ go.

not all 2

It’s hard to make good decisions when you are starving.

I know this and yet…

I have a bad habit–I forget to eat. A lot. And sometimes, I just don’t make time to eat. I decide that everything is more important than eating: catching the bus, trying to perfect my cat-eye eyeliner, checking up on Instagram, writing.

And then when my hunger is on a scale of 9-10, when my stomach is groaning in impatient annoyance, I will finally acknowledge my hunger and then I will eat.

But, “eat” isn’t the correct term, devour is more like it.

I am indiscriminate and often attracted to the foods I tell myself I “should” not be eating: sugar and more sugar usually. For years, I’ve been angry at my body’s intense hunger, while doing almost nothing to actively address it.

I ignored the science and the beautiful balancing act of my body and bodies in general (facts like, our bodies are more attracted to those very foods that will give us the biggest boost in energy or calories when it is stressed or overly hungry so reaching for French fries or a Kit Kat is actually our bodies way of being smart).

They tell you that emotional eating can be solved by quick introspection. That you just decide that you’re not really hungry for that cupcake or second helping and so you go for a walk; call a friend. It all sounds so easy-peazy.

0C0A393D-089A-4BE3-8BD0-C7DDC5AE0A08

I now believe that we have to take constant deep gazes upon our individual lives and ways of eating. I believe we have to pair the vague advice about eating “right” with the idiosyncrasies of our actual lived experience.

I believe we have to sit–and sit for long periods of time usually–with our specific relationship to hunger.

I started to see some very interesting parallels with how I treat my hunger and how I treat my life. I noticed that I often approach people and situations when I am starving. Nowhere is this more clear than in relationships.

I’d often wait until I was desperate for attention and admiration and adoration before I approached someone. I expected this person to fulfill my ravenous hunger for love and when they couldn’t fulfill the stupendous depth of my desire (no being could), I would grow angry, resentful, intensely sad and searching. I distrusted my hunger for love. I was disgusted by my hunger.

I wished my hunger would just disappear.

They tell us: don’t go grocery shopping when we are hungry because our physical hunger will transmute and sharpen our actual needs. I think we’ve all been there: we go in for toilet paper and toothpaste and leave with 99 cent pink notepads, Oreos, a new sports bra we didn’t need, Captain Crunch, five avocados, a sewing kit and headphones.

We are not always logical, rational beings. We are soft. We desire. We are oftentimes hungry.

This I know:

I need to stop waiting until I am starving to eat.

I need to stop waiting until I am starving to seek love.

I need to become comfortable and present with my hungers as they are.

I need to feed upon the things that will actual feed my hunger, not dull it and then intensify it much later elsewhere.

45D925E0-A4B3-4FA0-ADD7-45B30610DEF1

Our hunger for adoration, attention, or admiration are not shameful. What they are at their barest are desires for love and belonging and connection. Many of us were starved of these desires at some point in our lives. And then we meet people and buffet lines with our stomachs and hearts on empty.

And instead of getting the love we really want, the food that will sustain us, we are attracted to anything that will do the trick. The chocolate chip cookies. The guy who never has time for us. The Chinese take-out for a third night in a row. The friend who constantly makes us feel on edge and anxious.

It’s hard to make good decisions when you are starving.

But, we do not have to be hungry ghosts forever, waiting on something external to feed us.

Yes, we need other people. Self-care and self-love do not exclude connection and love from others.

Still, we must learn to feed ourselves consistently.

We must learn to recognize our hunger before it becomes acute and overtaking. Feed ourselves when our hunger levels are between 3-4 and not well past 0.

We must learn to see our hunger with accepting eyes and give ourselves what we need so that we approach our food and our friends and our partners from a place of satiety. From a place of enough where they become the exquisite dessert and not the whole damn meal.

Our hunger and the way we handle it can be a spiritual path in itself.

So, are you hungry? Are you starving?

What are you hungry for?

Are you looking for what you truly hunger for in a place that it can be found?

What are the places in your life that are starving for attention and for your gentle holding and care? Where can you make time to feed yourself? It’s okay to take time to learn. And relearn.

not all

My hope for all of us is that we learn to acknowledge our hunger and treat it with respect. This is not always so simple in a society that demonizes women’s hungers for food and anything beyond the bare minimum AND also expects women to feed everyone else.

“Good Women” don’t feed themselves first. “Good Women” starve.

Le sigh, the patriarchy sucks my friend but all is not lost.

Not everyone in the world, shit, not everyone in our country has the ability to feed themselves on a consistent basis. But, many of us do and for that, I am thankful everyday.

We can honor our hunger.

We do not have to wait until we are starving to feed ourselves.

Onward,

Hannah