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How to Eat with Gusto

Malti enjoys her favorite treat – freeze-dried mealworms.

From what I can tell thus far, the ideal way to learn how to eat with gusto is to become a tortoise.

If you can swing becoming a South American red-footed tortoise, even better.

My nearly three-year-old red-foot girl, Malti, was born ready to eat.

I wasn’t present at her birth, but I suspect she shot out of that egg so fast, mouth wide open, expecting snacks.

In other words, no one needed to acquaint her with the joys of good cuisine (although there, our opinions tend to diverge a little….or a lot).

She ate like I apparently ate….until I reached the ripe old age of two.

At that time in my young life, two very stressful events occurred: we moved and my little brother was born.

I was the firstborn, and maybe it was for that reason my mom decided to keep a journal of my early years (it is worth noting no such journal exists for my brother).

In the journal, she makes a special note that, around age two, I started to resist eating lunch and dinner. 

This went on for years. Just before I turned 11, restriction briefly turned into bingeing, which as rapidly turned into peer pressure, bullying and ridicule.

The bingeing then became restriction, which led to anorexia and then bulimia and then, a full three decades later, the beginnings of my currently solid recovery.

Whew. What a ride.

Malti has outgrown all her red-footed peers – male and female. Yes, her veterinarian and my friends and me and my family laugh about her robust girth. Her vet calls her “a little meatloaf” – but here, it is said with pride and a firm “atta girl!”

Malti had a rough start in life, and it is likely thanks in large part to her keen appetite that she has emerged from that period hale and hearty after all.

In this, as in many other areas, she has become a powerful mentor to me.

When I watch her scouring the floor for treats or literally lifting her plump body up onto her hind legs to score a dangling freeze-dried mealworm (her FAVORITE snack), somewhere in the dim recesses of my own memory a two-year-old me yells, “Yay! FOOD!”

Today’s Takeaway: Can you tuck into a tasty meal with full gusto? Is that something that is easy for you, or do you always feel like there is something holding you back from fully enjoying the process of choosing and eating foods you love? What do you think it would be like to be a tortoise, so keen to sample delicacies and so un-selfconscious about it all?

P.S. This post comes from my free monthly e-zine, “Good News for Recovery + Life.”

How to Eat with Gusto

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2019). How to Eat with Gusto. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 7 Dec 2019
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