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Old 08-09-2013, 10:59 PM   #1
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Default Mother of all eating disorders

I am 46 years old which is as middle-age as it gets, but my mother's words still get to me. Tonight, while we were watching Serena Williams play in Toronto, my mother commented on Serena's weight and her flat stomach. She always comments on everybody's weights first and foremost. All else (talents, intellect, generosity) matters little to her.

She said, Serena must have been "50 pounds overweight at her heaviest, a bit like ME". This made me sad and angry because I am less than 5 pounds away from a normal BMI and 50 pounds lighter would put me seriously in the underweight category.

Anyhooo, my relationship with food, the eating disorder I developped in my twenties (bulimia, now behind me thank God. Although, I guess one is never cured.), it all comes back to her.

As a teenager, it did not matter if I spent six hours a day on a tennis court, she would still make a fuss anytime I reached for the pantry or the fridge. To her, it was always about control, and all I wanted was to rebel.

First, I would take a hug. Second, I wonder how common is my situation. That part of you that you hate which links happiness and success with weight, how much do you attribute it to your parents? In what healthy or unhealthy ways did your mother/father shape your relationship with food?
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Old 08-09-2013, 11:16 PM   #2
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Fascinating topic.

I am still trying to figure out the root cause of my previous obesity. I ( like many) have never been thin and have wondered how many of my issues were rooted in the way my mom and family treated their bodies and how they related to food.

I always remember feeling like I had to eat what ever treat was around NOW because if I did'nt...some one else would eat it quickly and I would get nothing ( or at least I thought I would get nothing)........that seems to be the only thing I have been able to pinpoint as of now.

Good post and topic....I think everyone's issues always seem to boil down to something our parents did or did not do. ;-)
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JUNE 2013 over 83 pounds lost! GOAL!!!!
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Old 08-09-2013, 11:30 PM   #3
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It sure does, dstalksalot. Congrats on your hard work and success in reaching goal.
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Old 08-09-2013, 11:54 PM   #4
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Unfortunately, your situation is not unusual. In the last couple of years, I ran across some pictures of myself in high school. I remember feeling so HUGE back then. Monstrously huge. And it was my mother that reinforced that idea. Messages from her were so mixed. One minute she'd talk about my wide behind, and how fat I was compared to others, or even herself. In the next moment she'd insist I eat everything she put on my plate. The idea of turning down food or not cleaning my plate were so foreign to me for many, many years.

So as I look at my high school picture now, I see a girl who is certainly taller than all the other girls around her, but not at all wider or fatter than any of them. NOT AT ALL! Makes me so sad to have lost all that because the moment I went away to college, I started shoveling food into my mouth to block how awkward and unprepared I was to deal with living on my own. I was so ill-prepared for life as an adult, making adult decisions! And all my parents prepared me for was to go study home-ec and bag an educated husband with my mad cooking and cleaning skills.

I spent the majority of my adult life feeling awkward, feeling like I would never measure up. The man I married contributed to that. My parents would visit us and my mother would look at our circumstance as newly weds (not much money, living in an apartment, driving a cheap used car, and I kept getting fatter because all I did was stay at home as the dutiful wife to cook and clean and I HATED IT!) and tell me that I was a failure as a woman.

When I finally stopped buying into all that crap, the husband dumped me. My first taste of freedom! I started growing into the real me! Eventually, I dumped my mother, who continued to be venomous and cruel towards me. I am now so happy and feel virtually free from disordered eating!

I wish I felt this emotionally strong when I was that girl in the high school picture. Sometimes I imagine that who I am now visits that girl from back then and I try to impart her with inner strength. My path would have been very different, I would have been braver, and I wouldn't have wasted so much of my resources on fast food!

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Old 08-10-2013, 12:17 AM   #5
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I understand this so much.

A lot of people struggle to understand this but I have been struggling with body image and eating disorders since I was in third grade. My dad and sister are blessed with wonderful bodies and can eat whatever and however much they want and it won't affect them, but I need to be careful or else it packs on the pounds quick. When I moved in with my dad in third grade with my younger sister, my dad didn't really grasp the idea of healthy eating since they could eat whatever they wanted. So it was night after night of either eating out at a restaurant or eating pasta with fatty sauces like vodka or alfredo sauce. About half way through third grade a girl made a comment that I looked fatter, and it crushed me. I started bingeing, and staying up super late (like 9:30 is really that late for a third grader!) and doing little exercises like running in place.

Everything just kept snowballing, and my dad kept reinforcing unhealthy behaviors. In middle school I was teased a lot for my weight, and looking back I was EXTREMELY healthy. When I came home and told him, however, he would say it was my fault and to do something about it instead of offer healthy alternatives, like making more healthy food choices.

Around seventh grade I got the great idea of trying to throw up my food, and I was bulimic until about a year ago. People don't understand how you can be overweight AND have an ED but it is very possible lol

It makes me incredibly sad, but I think the situations we have all been in can strengthen us in the end and stop repeating the cycle. I don't think people are born with the innate need to be overweight, lazy, eat a lot, or whatever problems we may have, but even positive people in society can drive us to it. Crazy stuff.

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Old 08-10-2013, 12:31 AM   #6
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Your well-written message touched me. I too would like to speak to the teenage you.
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Old 08-10-2013, 12:54 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Matisse View Post
In what healthy or unhealthy ways did your mother/father shape your relationship with food?
My mother was a bit similar to yours. Whenever we were walking on the street and she saw a fat person, she would make some comment like, "It's disgusting how some people just let themselves go." If she hadn't seen me in a while and I had gained a little weight, she would make a remark about it within a few sentences of saying hello. In her mind it all came down to willpower. It's true that she had an iron will and often said that she could eat twice as much as she did, so she didn't have much sympathy for people who chose a different balance between food intake and weight.

I don't think her attitude toward fatness affected me all that much, now that I think of it. Her words didn't compel me to lose weight, but didn't make me rebel against it either. I was always able to lose weight when I was good and ready, and never able to do it for anyone else.

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Old 08-10-2013, 09:40 AM   #8
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I am an adult and only I am responsible for my actions and food. I don't blame my parents that I was overweight the first third of my life. When I grew up, it became time for me to take responsibility for it and do what is necessary to change.

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Old 08-10-2013, 02:15 PM   #9
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Of course, parents influence and affect how you deal with food. I had my own struggles with my mother and food (food was restricted in the home, so when I had my freedom, I would eat whatever!) but I eventually talked to a therapist that helped me get that out of my head.

I will admit that was the first level. Figuring out that I was still "rebelling" as a 30-something year old against my mother was just one thing out of many that kept me from losing weight. I had to also admit and recognize that I had physical issue going on (PCOS, pre-diabetic) and that I had to take care of myself.

I don't think you are trapped in your past. I do think with some work you can get past letting those comments affect you and how you handle food. It may take a while, though!
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Old 08-10-2013, 02:27 PM   #10
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Wow. My heart goes out to those of you who've had such unloving parents regarding weight.

Any judgmental comment about weight in general sounds so catty and mean-spirited to me. I was lucky in that my mom never spoke like that about anyone.

She always said that what she loved most about her kids and why she was proud of all of us is because we all had good hearts. Kindness mattered most to her but so did brains. A lot. She could be kinda critical about people's intelligence, but not about their aptitude, more about ideas she considered stupid that people would live by.

I can honestly only remember my mom making a few comments about my appearance (all kind) and only one that was even remotely about my weight. My sister has always been very thin (size 0-thin) even though she eats lots of junk food. Once, as a teenager, I lamented to my mom that my sis must have a super fast metabolism. She said that no, my sister just didn't eat much in general, so that's why her weight stayed down. She said that if anyone had a fast metabolism, it was me because I ate a lot and was still slim. (I was about a size 6 or 8 at the time but felt "fat".) I was caught off guard by that observation b/c my mom never commented on my eating ever, but after a few seconds, I realized she was right. I did eat quite a lot.

Not only did she rarely discuss weight, she didn't discuss our appearances in general. The only times I can remember her doing so was when other people would compliment our looks to her, and she'd just answer, "Thank you, yes, I know they're good looking."

I think my mom avoided ever discussing weight/appearance with us because her own mom was v critical of my mom's weight. My mom was thin until she had kids (then she bounced around), but she had to struggle to stay that way. She naturally had a v big appetite and her own mom had a naturally tiny appetite and would sometimes tease my mom for how much she ate.

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Old 08-10-2013, 05:40 PM   #11
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as someone whose family sang <insert one-syllable name> is busting out all over' at the top of their lungs. outdoors. to me, i understand all too well what you're talking about.

However, what's really important is what you do with that information TODAY. yes, it's informed your eating habits and attitudes, but you can change that. you can declare that you will free yourself from this negativity.

easy?? good grief no!!! happens overnight??? again, no. i've been working on this for years. but i've made a lot of progress.

Bottom line: please don't let the past define you. and do not allow yourself to be open to the pain. And if that means that you limit the time you spend with your family, or draw lines that they can't cross, then go right ahead and do it.
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Old 08-10-2013, 06:58 PM   #12
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I am 66 and my mom is 89. Sad thing is her present early stage of dementia has a silver lining. She is really focused on stories about her past as her short term memory gets worse.. For the first time in our long lives we have conversations about something beside my weight.

Recently lots of people are posting pictures from out school years as we have a reunion coming up. I am shocked to see that I was not large at all compared to everyone else. When I went away to college she sent me a letter telling me not to gain weight because if I lost weight and my father would stop drinking she would have a much easier life.
I gained steadily after that and didn't get a handle on controlling my weight until I was 50 and realized I should not have been eating wheat all those years.
Make choices today that your future self will thank you for!

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Old 08-10-2013, 08:51 PM   #13
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Oof, I can only imagine how difficult it was to grow up with your mom being so critical and controlling about food. I'm sorry you suffered, Matisse.

My mom was only very critical of herself; I grew up listening to her make really negative remarks about herself. "Mommy is such a fat cow." Stuff like that. She struggled with binge eating and yo-yo dieting for as long as I can remember and her relationship with food and her body was always complicated.

I blame our society's obsession with physical appearance and see my mother's struggles as a reflection of that pressure for perfection. Watching her inspired me to try and break that cycle and while I haven't always succeeded, I keep trying.
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:54 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by halo104 View Post
It makes me incredibly sad, but I think the situations we have all been in can strengthen us in the end and stop repeating the cycle. I don't think people are born with the innate need to be overweight, lazy, eat a lot, or whatever problems we may have, but even positive people in society can drive us to it. Crazy stuff.
Halo, I really like what you wrote.

My mother was raised in an environment where people did not pay attention to positive body image and a healthy relationship with food and as much as I fault her for many of the challenges I had to deal with, I am conscious that she did not know better.

She did not have a career except being a homemaker and she took a lot of pride into looking good. That was her status, being a beautiful wife with a perfect house.

We know better regarding food/body image and we can be on the good side of this issue, so YES as you say, let's break the cycle.

Everyone else. Thanks for responding. I must go to bed because a big physical challenge awaits me tomorrow. I'll be back! <3

Last edited by Matisse; 08-10-2013 at 11:15 PM.
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