My Big Fat (Not Greek) Appetite

You know those stereotypes of the Italian grandmothers that did nothing but cook and bake and shove food into their grandchildren’s chubby cheeks throughout their childhood? Or the Greek grandmothers I have heard about who did the same? Well, I had a Jewish grandmother, and let me tell you, the Italians and Greeks have nothing on the Jewish version.

Being fed large quantities of food was how I grew up. I lived a block away and walked to my Gram’s house on a regular basis – these were also the days where schoolchildren in my area ate lunch at home each day, and her closeby home was my regular destination. Huge portions of tempting delicious food were offered and large quantities were expected to be eaten. (I grew up ordered to “clean my plate” no matter how piled high with food it was)

In those days of childhood, I was as skinny as a spaghetti noodle, so I made my grandmother very happy by eating enormous amounts of her wonderful food. It had no effect on my weight and I remained painfully thin well into high school.

“Kaynohora, where does she put it all – in a hollow leg?” was the question time after time by other relatives who were a bit heavier than me. (Kaynohora is a Yiddish expression that means to have good fortune)

My dad, who is a lifelong thin person, also had a huge appetite – his mother was the Gram I am speaking of, so he was raised the same way. Now that he is elderly he can still eat massive quantities particularly in a buffet situation. Interestingly, even with my huge appetite, I have never been into buffet eating – unlike my dad.

This huge appetite of mine became a lifelong trait and so I was extremely fortunate though my teen and young adult years to stay skinny, no matter how much I ate. My appetite has always been the same, no matter what I weighed.

During pregnancy, my appetite increased and I consumed even larger amounts. Instead of eating for two, I was eating enough for a family of five. And yet, miraculously, I lost all pregnancy weight and then some, and remained skinny until my mid-forties.

I have to say I enjoy food, and find great pleasure in eating, as many of us do. Although I do eventually get that “full” feeling, it takes a lot to get me there.

My husband in contrast has a puny appetite, and gets full way before me. He is not exactly skinny, but the quantities he eats pales in comparison to me. He takes way more food home from any given restaurant meal and sometimes I snack off his dish too.

He recently commented that my enjoyment of food is only overshadowed by the quantity of food I can pack away in a sitting.

At the current time, middle age, menopause, and hormonal changes have changed the skinny me to a puffier version. I had to learn the four-letter-word diet, and even worse, portion control.

[Speaking of these weighty issues: I recently watched a marathon of I Love Lucy and saw Ethel Mertz wearing what looked to be slim size 8 dresses through a tour of Europe with Lucy, who was probably a size 2. I was shocked to see how slim Ethel looked to me now, when I used to think of her as heavy. I asked my husband, “How do you remember Ethel Mertz’ body type?” and he said he remembered she was fat. Though she clearly was not fat. Size 8 is what I aspire to keep as it is my ideal size for middle age. To me, size 8 is slender, though my mom who is a size zero thinks a size 8 is “puffy.”]

Well, all this writing about food and appetite and weight has made me enormously hungry. Excuse me while I go eat the equivalent of a bear.

10 comments

  • I blog quite often and I seriously appreciate your content.

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  • Ar-This is the best blog, yet!!! I am enjoying all of your writings. I actually was crying long before the song ‘my dad’. As for the ‘butt’ references…..Ron’s posts on Tuesdays, make me laugh so hard! Keep up the good work….your readers Thank You….xo

    • Thank you thank you thanks sooo much Fran! Pass it around! Can’t wait to post this for TT – you know what that is. Ronnie and his friends should enjoy it then!

  • Pingback: Take My Butt… PLEASE! | Hot Flashes Blog by Arlene Lassin

  • As we age, the metabolism certainly does slow down…now, my friends order as particular as me and dont make as much fun of me when ordering at restaurants. Unfortunately all of us have to be mindful of salt and fats and are much more careful when eating. Oh I miss the old days

  • Great column Arlene! You certainly don’t look puffy in your pictures!
    Some people eat to live, I live to eat!

  • Arlene…..wow, this one hit the ‘nail on the head’!! Aging is quite nasty! When I was young, my mom would give me a milkshake with eggs in it to gain weight. Now I can do that, simply be eating normal and healthy options……UGH!!!

  • It always puzzled me that Vivian Vance’s contract ordered her to stay plus size, and yes, she looks totally normal..even thin..to me. too.

    Now we have Melissa McCarthy as Molly, a large woman with a huge audience and an even bigger heart. “Mike&Molly” still make a little too many fat jokes for my taste, so I prefered Melissa when she was Sookie on “Gimore Girls.” That show NEVER made weight an issue, even with plus size characters played by McCarthy as well as Sally Struthers and Liz Torres. Those women just…WERE….every lovable pound of them.

    Credit “Gimore Girls” creator Amy Sherman Palladino, who refused to write for characters who didn’t enjoy eating. Even thin stars Lauren Graham and Alexis Bleidel portrayed characters with cast iron stomachs, and it made them even more endearing and attractive and RELATABLE.

    It was a pleasant change from a medium that bombards us with what is supposed to be an acceptable weight.

    Renee Zellweger comes to mind too..APOLOGIZING for getting up to 136 pounds to play Bridget Jones. If THAT’S fat, what’s that make the rest of us? And here’s a funny Freudian thing..I just typed: “what’s that make the RESTAURANT?” before proofing!

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