November 23, 2007

Things I Remember

I have a really bad memory.... and I mean BAD. I've had friends talk about something that happened only a year ago and they're recounting how funny it was and things I said, and I've had no idea what they're talking about!! The reason I'm telling you this is because these past few months, in trying to figure out WHY I eat like I do, I've been trying to think back to my childhood and maybe find a clue as to when I started to be sneaky about food. It seems that although I have a horrible memory, I remember a lot of UGLY things. I mean, nothing *bad* has really ever happened to me - I had a wonderful childhood and a great family and have tons of wonderful memories - but I remember many key moments where I felt bad about myself. And for whatever reason, these negative food-related moments must have compounded on eachother, helping to lead to self esteem issues, not believing I was worth much or could achieve much, and somewhere I turned to food for comfort. These *ugly* moments include:

  • Overhearing my grandmother tell my mother that I was sneaky (I was stunned... until then I didn't know grandmas thought bad things about their grandkids! - have never forgotten it - or the sinking feeling I felt)
  • Sneaking food from my parent's friends' cupboards when we were visiting
  • Sneaking food into my room.... I remember mixing unsweetened cocoa and icing sugar together and eating it dry with a spoon - and I remember doing this regularly when I was in my teens (this was probably because there was NOTHING junky in the house and this is what I came up with - how creative of me! :P)
  • Sneaking granola bars almost daily and thinking my mother wouldn't notice the box was dwindling
  • Finding granola bar wrappers in my mother's bedside table (I believe a lot of my behavior was learned)
  • Buying junkfood on the way home from junior high and high school every day and hiding the evidence
  • Rummaging for food when I babysat
  • Worrying that when we had treats in the house (VERY RARE) that I wouldn't get my share
  • Eating my university roommate's big bag of chips and then having to buy her another bag and replace it before she noticed (this happened more than once!)

I could go on, but you get the picture. I cringe at each and every one of these memories, but these memories have helped shape me (literally) into who I am today. A vicious circle of wanting something, sneaking it, feeling awful about it, and then either having to sneak it back or just live with my secrets.... either way feel awful about myself, and then want something to make me feel better.

My biggest hope is that I do NOT pass this down to my daughter (or my son for that matter)... I hope that I will be able to see the signs if she starts doing it and be able to help her before it takes over her life. Obviously the best way to help her is to be a good example and to stop doing it myself!

I find it's a very fine line when it comes to junk food. If you never have it in the house (which was how I grew up) then I think you start to covet it and if you ever get the chance, you gobble it up as fast and as much as possible. I know that the minute I had my own money, it was almost always spent on food. I have friends who grew up with it ALWAYS in their house, and for whatever reason, it doesn't call out to them to eat it... maybe because they knew it would always be there if they wanted it. My parents had to COUNT OUT chips because we were all so worried we wouldnt get our *fair* share - it was ridiculous.... to this day none of us can have chips in the house without feeling the need to eat the whole bag (my sister-in-law asked me one day: "So what's with Matt and the chips?!"). With my kids, my strategy is to try to provide the best of both worlds... I'm very passionate about them eating as healthy as possible, but I also try to balance it out with treats so they dont feel deprived or feel that anything is forbidden. But I really dont know how to ensure they adopt healthy eating behaviors besides talking about the importance of putting healthy foods in your body, and making sure their healthy food taste great. I have mixed emotions about trying to manipulate it while feeling like a total hypocrite. My daughter is a chip fanatic, and it worries me SO MUCH!!!! I don't make a big deal about it - afterall she's not the only kid at the chip bowl - but I of course worry that it will lead to something bigger and more detrimental to her physical and emotional well being. And I'm not sure what I can really do to ensure it doesn't.

How do you help your children learn how to limit the unhealthy stuff on their own? Anyone? anyone?!

1 comment:

noelle said...

My mom never wanted candy around when I was a kid. I spent all the money I could find on candy when she wasn't watching. I don't remember ever having that self regulating thing that tells you a dessert is too rich to finish. Or just too big of a portion to finish.

My kids all do pretty well with it. My youngest daughter LOVES candy, but I think it's one of the easiest things for her to eat when she is hungry. I've gotten her other snacks (cheese sticks, yogurts, fruit) and tried to make them accessible. She'll choose those now, too.

We have junk in our house. My kids know that I like chips A LOT, but we still get them as an occaisional treat. We will make cookies or bake bread...they are excited to eat them the first day, but the kids don't gorge themselves everyday till they're gone.

I talk to the older ones about 80/20...80% healthy foods and 20% fun foods. I also try to make most of the sweet treats around. So even the cookies have whole wheat flour...and my oldest dd loves ground flax meal in all her baked goods. She likes the nutty flavor and texture. Huge victory!!!