*Pic: A somewhat full or rather empty jar of live probiotics. Yes, it does taste good.
Fullness is a symmetrical concept. There are two sides to feeling full: positive and negative. As a sidebar, I just deleted the content following the colon because I thought it more prudent to have “negative” precede “positive” as a nod to alphabetical logic. Then I thought, what made me type it out as I originally did? Do I subconsciously associate fullness with feelings of positivity?
That pans out nicely then because I want to explore all the reasons why it is not only ok to be full, but that it is only beneficial to sit with fullness.
Fullness: fulfilling, fully- (wholeheartedly).
The derivatives of fullness include possession and pursuing something with everything you have, another possessive reference. When we’re full, we’re not lacking. We have material things which we can call our own. We have energy to carry out tasks with eagerness and abandon.
To be fulfilled then, is not synonymous with accepting the status quo. Instead, it is equivalent to having enough fuel to keep pushing forward. One who is fulfilled occupies a temporary state of being, burning off that fuel in the process of seeking out the ever changing ebb and flow that is fulfillment.
I, however, have always perceived feeling full as a stagnant phase, a peak in the bell curve of life, and a stage of being settled, of being satisfied. I thought fullness was a sign of mediocrity and laziness, when instead fulfillment is a milestone leading up to a peak that can go as high as you choose before it makes its way back down just as mortality is to gravity.
Fullness is temporary, yes, but it symbolizes something achieved, something possessed. It is a phase of being, the pinnacle of presence, such that you can sit with fullness and enjoy the fruits of labor: be it attaining a seat of admission at a prestigious institution, landing that job, or having food to sustain yourself.
When we associate food as a fruit of labor, oddly enough, we say “bread and butter.” Well, both fruit and bread are carbs- a macronutrient I have come to find cringeworthy, associating it with fat deposits. When I took my premedical courses, however, I only ever associated carbs with energy, necessary for cell function and the building block of the human corporeal form. In fact, I still remember giggling when actor Scott Peterson as “Luke” in Gilmore Girls replied to a bunch of lawyers who asked him if Lorelei Gilmore was his lawyer, “No, she’s carbon-based.” In other words, lawyers weren’t human - they neither emoted nor dabbled in straight talk, instead manipulating realities in an effort to reach a pre-determined goal.
Fulfillment is to achieve goals, yes, but goals hat aren’t laid out for us. They form as a result of our living, our experiences.
Now let’s turn to eating. We eat until we feel full and sometimes past fullness because to feel full is to feel euphoric, so we may go overboard at times in an effort to exacerbate that feeling. We eat until fullness so that we can move on with our day without ruminating over food. We eat to fullness in order to stave off hunger, essentially starvation mode. And so we eat until we’re full in order to remain alive.
In that way, being full is to be alive.
I don’t have a death wish, but I have an issue with feeling full. I cannot sit with fullness. I cannot stand not to stave off that feeling of an enlarged stomach - the organ - and the belly - the physical bloating. I know he stomach wall is elastic for a reason, as is our skin, in order to stretch and accommodate the adequate amount of food our body needs. Hell, even a woman’s birth canal and cervix can stretch to accommodate a human body to exit and make its entrance into the world. Yet I fear that if I am full, I will not enjoy my next meal.
I remember visiting college immediately after being diagnosed with anorexia. One of my closest male friends mentioned that he was full. He said that he had heard somewhere that it’s good to take a walk after eating. I immediately quipped in saying that that wasn’t healthy. I think only part of me believed that. Now, I believe it but I don’t apply it to my own life. I walk Post-meal if I can help it.
“Why can’t you sit after eating,” my grandmother asked me. I looked into her eyes, silent, without an answer.
I observe people around me sitting after they eat. I admire their ability to be present- enjoying a television show or participating in a conversation, and I am befuddled as to how they can do that so comfortably. I wonder why I am so uncomfortable with the concept of not moving after eating. Why can I not trust my digestive system to break down that fullness in time for my next meal? It’s as if my body fears it will be starved again.
Maybe feeling full is a good thing because it allows us to edit out what we do not have room for. It is allows us to declutter our life. Fullness is the Mari Kondo of 2017.
The negative then rears its ugly head. Recovering, I need to edit but not cut out any food. Instead, I must add continuously and that is also why fullness as something positive is so illogical for me. I cannot trust my body - not yet. I don’t have reliable hunger and fullness cues.
I enjoy volume-eating. I like my 9 pounds of watermelon and my whole squash but apparently, these low-caloric foods feign fullness at a much lower number than other less bulky foods. That’s why eating healthfully, real and unprocessed foods is so gratifying and satisfying, but for me, gratification and satisfaction from eating cannot surface until I begin to gain weight.
So if feeling full of food is negative right now, I can choose to see the positive of feeling full. For one, my metabolism will repair and thrive because my body will not have to fear a lack of food in the future.
I can also sit with the food, trust that it will digest without conscious effort - motility. I can be present after eating and enjoy what is around me. I have fuel to go where I have to.
I used to be that person who enjoyed eating the roasted garlic naan and charred red onions garnishing those Tandoor - clay-oven cooked Indian dishes. I used to indulge in my order of six garlic knots. I loved the concept of an after-taste to my parents’ dismay. I never enjoyed mints- they still give me headaches - and I never enjoyed risking the washing away of spices that mingled on my tongue Post-meal with a beverage. I loved having that fullness sit with me, lingering on my tastebuds.
Now I have an extremely low tolerance for flavors that stray away from the natural taste of food. Should I have an aftertaste, I immediately brush my teeth, a minimum of three times daily. Once in the morning, once after dinner, prior to my watermelon and snacking, and once before bed. I don’t like that remnant of fullness to stray and seep into my next meal.
I am pushing fulfillment - pushing its motility to my liking instead of letting it pass. But it’s worth remembering that with time, everything comes to pass, and “in stubborn mindedness, one is ruined at last.”