I love food.
I have lived and traveled all over the world and sampled cuisine in the most unlikely places that makes my toes curl. I am an adventurous and confident cook and view dinner guests as my personal focus groups for new, sometimes bizarre recipes. I love recreating restaurant dishes at home and embellishing cookbook instructions with my own culinary insights.
But I also hate food.
I blame food, rather than my dysfunctional relationship with it, for my over-curvy figure. I know I’m not alone or even terribly unique. A reported 68% of adults are considered overweight or obese in this country.
There was a time when I had the lean, tight body of an athlete. I was a softball catcher in high-school and a swimmer in college. In my 20s, I enjoyed a brief window of physical perfection after a particularly bad break-up and subsequent work-out obsession.
But that was all a long time ago.
I don’t remember weighing myself until I was in my late 20s… I never dieted in high-school or college. I think that makes me somewhat of an anomaly nowadays. Yet I distinctly remember when my weight went up and stayed up.
Somewhere in my 20s, I stopped eating for love and started eating for pain.
I am certainly guilty of ingesting my share of cheese fries, pizza, and processed junk but it has more likely been the volume of food I eat that has kept me from being at an optimal weight.
I would probably go my entire life without addressing the source of my disorder were it not for one small reason… my daughter.
My beautiful girl will undoubtedly inherit her share of my bad habits despite my best efforts to tame them: my temper, my bossiness, my outspokenness, my mischievousness.
But I would be stricken with grief if she inherited my unhealthy relationship with food.
Of course, children learn what they live. Girls especially, copy their mother’s habits, mannerisms, and behavior. How soon will she recognize that mommy eats every bit as much food as daddy? How soon will she notice that mommy snacks even after a full meal? Too soon, I’m afraid.
I often joke that I was my healthiest when I was pregnant because my body was a temple to motherhood. I protected that little life inside me against my normal “toxins”. Why couldn’t I do that for myself? Aren’t I worthy of being protected too?
As I watch my daughter mimic my loving cuddles with her dollies, I hope I can also find a way to show her how to love herself and value her health. She is so precious and worthy to me. Can I make sure that she feels that same way about herself?
I don’t believe in “do as I say, not as I do” living or parenting, so my challenge is both real and immediate. Eating habits are established young. Body confidence as a woman is difficult enough without adding unhealthy weight to the problem. How many of us are still harboring low self-esteem that originated in our adolescence?
There is a legacy of motherhood that fascinates me. In giving life to our children, they often save ours.
(This article was first posted on www.STLFamilyLife.com on May 10, 2010.)