I read this article in TIME Magazine, and it really gave me pause. "Study after study has found that mothers who are fixated on their body image are more likely to have daughters with eating disorders than less self-conscious moms."
Over the past few weeks I've re-committed myself to eating healthier and getting back into the habit of moving more. Yes, I've lost weight, but I'm trying not to have that as my only, or even main, motivation. But as it's been going, I've become hyper-aware of what I eat. I hear my internal dialogue judging each bite of food as "good" or "bad", and thus I have good or bad days. And by extension, I am a good or bad person, depending on what I've eaten.
That's a recipe for just the sort of thing the article brings to light. There is no way that Gem, smart little girl that she is, will not pick up on that sort of thing. Not to mention that such thoughts are not even remotely useful to me as I struggle to learn good habits and be encouraged.
So I think I need to emphasize food as fuel, and treats as a rarity, but still part of life. I want her to see Mama eat healthily, but not be obsessive about it. I want her to assume that Mama likes to garden and take walks because they're fun, not just because they burn calories. I do not have a healthy relationship with food. I know that. But I hope that I do not pass along that relationship to my daughter.
The other night I was watching "Intervention" on A&E and one of the stories was that of a young anorexic mother. She related how growing up her mother was always on a "diet" and food was considered "bad" or "not allowed". In fact, food was kept to such a minimum in the house so her mother wouldn't be tempted that there often wasn't enough to feed the children. Thus this young woman's warped relationship with food evolved to a point where even she knew she would die if it wasn't addressed.
It was so sad as the camera panned to her young daughter (3 or 4) sitting at the breakfast table staring into her bowl of cereal, moving it around with her spoon and then pushing it away. The mother was horrified that the harmful cycle would be repeated unless she took action.
Of course you're totally right, Synger, to reinforce in your child that food is a required fuel and that physical activity is not a necessary evil to ward off weight gain, but an enjoyable means of keeping strong and healthy. I think Gem will be just fine.
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"My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four. Unless there are three other people." Orson Welles
I'll read the actual article when I get a moment but I just wanted to say this.
I don't remember how old your daughter is but if she's of the age where she notices and comments on your eating it might not be a bad time to sit down with her and explain just what you've written so that she can understand your love/hate relationship with it.
This is something we are constantly having to bring up with my stepson (he's 10). His mother is anorexic (she weighs like 90 lbs.). She will fast for a week or so at a time and tell him she thinks she's fat. He now believes he's fat. He weighs around 80 lbs. and is almost 5'. He's average on the charts. Then he sees me "dieting" and exercising and of course has questions about it. He even saw a hydroxycut commercial and wanted to take them to lose weight because he thought he was fat. We constantly remind him that he is just average. I think I will print out the new food guide pyramid (in coloring book form of course) for each of the family members and he can color them in when we've eaten from each of the food groups.
That show was just disturbing wasn't it..I was watching too..both stories are so sad...but with such great hope!
I have never told my children that I'm on a diet, because I'm not on a "diet"...what I try to tell them is that I want to eat more healthy foods and less junk because I want to be able to run faster (run period is more like it!) and go on big hikes with them and Daddy.
When I was little, my Dad was so weird about food....he was extremely overweight, smoked 2 packs a day and had the temper of a mad bull...and yes indeed, surprise surprise...he died at 44 of a massive heart attack when I was seven. Anyway he was a crazed man at the dinner table. My sister who's seven years older than me and was his step-daughter was the tiniest little thing who ate next to nothing...he would scream at her and MAKE her finish all her food even though it was far too much for her, there was crying and yelling and it was just awful..he never did that to me, his biological child. So today, we are grown women, she is 34 and I'm 27 we're the same height, five foot nothing she weighs less than 100 pounds and I weigh more than 200 pounds.
I'm telling you guys this because it totally fascinates me the way it affected us. She grew up and was strong enough to say I'll stop when I'm done, dammit! I grew up insecure and I suppose I wanted to (psycho talk coming...lol) please my Dad, do what he wanted so he wouldn't do that to me too!
SO...lol.. what I do with my kids, and have always done...is NEVER force them to finish a meal if they are full. We're big on telling them to listen to their tummies, their bodies instinctively know what they need. If there's ever dessert involved...they have to finish (or eat said number of bites) their veggies and most of their protein..but not their potato or starch. Kids from infancy are programmed to eat what they need.. IF you don't mess with it.
This is SUCH a tough issue...but we can do it
TRYING to leave the batteries out of my scale!!
Last edited by famograham : 06-07-2005 at 09:50 PM.
This is a really interesting topic.. I've often wondered what I should do with my own children (when the time arises). I have a few years, and hope to have my weight undercontrol by then.. but at this stage I just don't know. My mom was NEVER focused on weight, she was overweight, but accepted her body, and we ate pretty healthy growing up. We rarely ate out, no fast food, and yet somehow here I am weighing 254 pounds! I've had eating disorders, suffered from depression due to my weight.. so what did she teach me? I don't really have high body confidence, not THAT low either. I don't want my daughter to feel the way I do about my body, it's no way to live. In order to do that I know I have to resolve my food issues now.
Whats interesting to me is that when I was 14 I participated in a study about girls and their body image. At that age I was SO confident, mostly because my mom homeschooled me.. and as I started to attend public school my confidence started to slide. I wonder if girls would do well not having the pressure of peers to look a certain way.
Everyone has such different issues with food, but all we can do it hope that we are a little bit better than our parents.
I totally hear what you are saying. I too worry about my children and what I am teaching them about eating habits and body image. I have two girls and one boy and have been trying to let them know food is fuel and if they listen to their bodies they will know when they have had enough.
Growing up I heard my mom say stuff that led me to believe fat people were lazy, losers and just bad people in general. Thin or skinny people were better than fat people in all ways.
My older brother and sister (8 and 6 years older than me) were both active as kids and teenagers and were of average weight. I was a thin kid up to about the age of 8, when I gained some weight. About age 11, I realised I was fatter than other kids in my class. I had never been teased or thought about it much before and it really bothered me. I remember one day, in my room, I was about 11, I was standing before my mirror and I grabbed the roll of fat on my stomach and hit it will telling myself I hated myself and was gross. And I was only 11!
Anyway my whole point is: I don't want to pass on my loony body image issues to my kids and have been trying very hard to teach them to eat good foods and eat sweets and treats in moderation. My example hasn't been the best but it is improving.
How far I've come thus far...
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