I eat way more than I need to – always have. I didn’t gain weight as a kid but now I still have a good appetite. The problem is my stomach. It’s spent decades digesting huge quantities of food, and it’s had enough. I can picture it down there, looking up the pipe that leads to my mouth, shouting, “STOP! – NO MORE!”  It protests loudly, with fierce rumblings. The eventual exhaust from my stomach sometimes causes Portland’s air pollution index to go up.

Old habits are hard to break. When “clean your plate” was our every night dinner chant, and the guilt about the starving kids in China weighed heavily, and the food was so mighty tasty – crispy fried chicken, buttery mashed potatoes, bacon-drenched green beans – I’d eat huge platefuls. I can only remember one food I loathed growing up, and that was eggplant. Vile, vile vegetable. I’ve since made peace with it in eggplant parmigiana, but as a kid I could not leave the table until I’d eaten the whole hideous portion of purple slime. If a human can eat eggplant as a child, they’ll eat anything.

Which I do. Now when I scarf the huge quantities – generally every lunch and dinner – soon after I announce, “I’m stuffed!” my stomach begins its protests. It growls. Rumbles. Percolates. Bubbles. The misery lasts much longer than those pains I used to get after gorging a huge thanksgiving meal, when I’d lie on my back with my haystack belly in the air begging for mercy, “Oh, I’m miserable. It hurts. Won’t somebody make it stop?”  Forty-five minutes later I’d be pulling mashed sweet potatoes, the ones with the little marshmallows on top, and dressing out of the refrigerator just to have a (so called) little taste. 

Those days are definitely gone. For one thing, I don’t lose weight now like I used to. I have to walk, do yard work, lift a few weights, etc, to just to offset the calories taken in. It’s the discomfort that gets to me now. So for Lent I’m giving up huge portions, seconds, and desserts. The first day I thought I’d starve to death, but I’m still here, and thankful that I’ve got an appetite for vegetables, and that I don’t keep bread and snack foodsecause I can’t stop eating them.  

For me to be able to do the merry part, I can’t eat or drink too much. Kind of takes the merry out of it, wouldn’t you agree?