Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Lunch Box

I'm sitting here in my peaceful living room, with the serene sound of water flowing gently in my 75-gallon native freshwater fish tank.  There are pumpkin-scented candles casting a soft glow across the walls, and I am cozily wrapped in an over-sized sweatshirt in a giant chair.  Also, I am shoving multiple pieces of Halloween candy in my face.

The damage done so far includes two small Take 5s, one fun-sized Kit Kat, and three Reese's peanut butter cups.  Oh, wait, another Kit Kat just went down the hatch.

Just had this for the first time three days ago.  Now I realize I never knew real happiness.

This is bad, really bad.  I'm usually a pretty healthy eater, and especially since the birth of my daughter I've been getting back to my old self.  But then Halloween came around and something unfortunate happened, which included a giant bag of candy that "went missing" (I strongly suspect my husband in this disappearance), resulting in the purchase of another bag of candy, resulting in me finding the original bag in a very obvious place in the cupboard (leading to my marital suspicion) and now there is just Candy Freaking Everywhere.

I tried bringing it to work.  I mean, I did bring it to work.  Well, except some of my favorites.  But I figured that way, everyone could enjoy some free candy and I wouldn't eat every last piece.  And then I got home, put my daughter to bed, and then sat down to write this blog and all the remaining candy I'd saved flew out of their bowl and into my mouth at an alarming speed.  If I'm counting calories for the day, I think I have about 9 left.  And yes, I am trying to figure out a) how much of another Reese's I can eat to eke out that last 9 calories or b) if I should just blow it and eat everything, including the Whoopers.

I Buzzed all of my candy.

Writing about this really helps me put into perspective my relationship with food, which is on the level of Glutton (but Happy Glutton).  And that reminds me of a nickname I've heard and otter and not one, but two dolphins called.  Because I think I could have the same nickname.  

What is it?


om nom nom nom, tis the season (almost, but NOT YET)

I've known two dolphins and one otter who have the same Devour Everything Always tendency that I do.  They will eat until they pop, or at least until they poop.  It takes an insane amount of food for them to voluntarily go, "You know what? That'll do."

A lunchbox on the left, with finicky daughter on the right.

Most animals (including people) have that tendency to you know, feel full whenever they get what they want.  The food experts say you should Listen To Your Body; it'll tell you when it's had enough. And I'm sure that's true.  Like, I took all the anatomy classes in college and understand the neural relationship the stomach has with the brain.  I understand these things about as much as I understand what it feels like to fly like a bird: I really can only imagine.  Because that part of my brain/stomach doesn't exist.  Listening To My Body results in a lot of deep dish pizza.  And these two particular dolphins and otter were/are very much like that, too.  

Kindred spirits in many ways

One of the criticisms our naysayers have is that we starve the animals in order to get them to perform.  Or that it's cruel that the animals "work" for fish.  Some critics say we starve the animals, others say we feed them to obesity.  But none of that is true, at least not in my experience.  We spend virtually every moment of our day making sure the animals get the food that they need.  We obtain weights, measurements, and blood samples to tell us that everyone is getting properly fed.  But in the vast majority of cases, the best test for proper nourishment is the animals themselves.  They often tell us in their own ways when they are full or hungry.  And we respond to that.

"I'll eat everything you give me, plus all the bugs that I find."

But it's not foolproof, because of the Lunchboxes and the Finicky Eaters.  The latter are an entirely different story, usually involving us reinforcing them for eating because they are just picky.  They would rather play with a basketball and get a good rub-down than they would eat six pounds of fish.  But the Lunchboxes are the hardest. 


Because we don't want our animals to feel hungry.  We don't want them to be uncomfortable; we want them to get what they need to grow, feel full, and/or maintain an ideal body weight.  So when you see an animal who is acting hungry, you want to feed him or her.

Our lives as animal care professionals summed up in one Disney gif!

But the Lunchboxes...oh, they are bottomless pits.  They will act hungry long after they've gotten what they need and then some.  They just eat and eat and eat.  Luckily, getting weights/measurements and routine blood samples allows us to make sure they aren't overweight and that they are well-fed (the blood especially tells us that).  

There are some benefits to Lunchboxes.  The two dolphins happen to have similar personalities.  They were both old females, a little girthy, the matriarchs of their respective dolphin populations, and smarter than any human employed at their facilities.  They messed with people all. the. time.  Especially new trainers, no matter the experience level.  That's a benefit, because those ladies make you a better trainer....and they humble you, too.  That's never a bad thing, especially when your teacher is not your same species.

The Lunchboxes I know are unquestionable bosses.

The other benefit is they can EAT.  If you are ever in a situation where you need to feed large amounts of food quickly (e.g. bad storms like hurricanes), you can make 15 pounds of fish disappear in about 2 minutes.  Dolphins are especially good at this, because their stomachs are meant to handle large amounts of food at once.  Wild dolphins experience a feast or famine situation most of the time; they gorge themselves on as much food as they can, because they don't know where or when their next substantial meal is coming.  Lunchboxes take this to the next level (one I bow down to).

We could also nickname them Pacmans.

One of the Lunchboxes I know is nursing a calf right now.  And she is eating so much food, her little calf is a plump little nugget, which is a great thing.  A hearty calf is a healthy calf, especially with winter coming up.  If we need the little one to put on weight, mom gets another healthy helping of snacks.  For most dolphins this would be tough (even a lactating female in many cases) if they are already at a high base diet.  But Lunchboxes don't care.  They are ready to ingest it all.

I wish I had the same benefits.  But basically, me being a Lunchbox costs me more money, no one is benefitting from the extra calories unless we count the clothing industry, which would make some extra dough as I require larger and larger sizes.  Other than reigning victorious in an eating contest, there is no glamor or wonderfulness to me eating the planet and all of the candy on it.  I made a huge mess with candy wrappers and because my blood sugar is crashing through the floor, I'm going to leave the mess for tomorrow, slowly move to the couch, and then eat something salty for a few hours while watching the Walking Dead reruns.

Yeah, it's better to be an animal Lunchbox than a human one.  Oh well.  

1 comment:

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