The Beaten Path

If you are on a journey (not necessarily a weight loss journey), you probably know that looking at the path you have taken to arrive where are you now is just as important as laying out a new path.  While looking forward is certainly the best option (positivity and all that), you certainly should not forget to look back.  Mull over where you went “wrong,” and where you found strength, guidance.

This is something I have been thinking a lot about recently.  Months ago I admitted to myself (and, subsequently, the blog-o-sphere) that I had a problem with food.  I was out of control and powerless against food.  Thoughts of food filled my head constantly…so much that it was often difficult for me to do *anything* without “snacking” – or at least thinking about what I would eat next.  Time consuming, seriously.

Even at the beginning, even after admitting there was a problem, I did not think too much about *how* that happened…the why.  When did I develop such a horrible relationship with food?  Why did I turn to food?  So, with the help of my therapist, I began to search my past (what I can remember anyway) for reasons I might have turned to food for comfort.

One of my first realizations was that my mother’s relationship with food certainly helped to shape mine.  I remember when I was about 10 we would order two large extra cheese pizzas from Old Towne Pizza every single Saturday night.  It was often just the two of us because my step-father worked third shift on Saturday nights.  Actually, that is *why* we ordered pizza every Saturday – because he was gone and we could.  He was not “on board” with eating out.  He found it frivolous and unnecessary.  So, we ordered those two large extra cheese pizzas out of spite.  Then we ate those two extra large cheese pizzas – all in one night (and threw the boxes in the dumpster so there was *no* evidence).  Crazy, don’t you agree?  That is where my “secretive eating” developed.  I am sure of it.  I would hide in my kitchen after my chicklets were in bed, eating.  I would sneak food into my office behind my back so they would not see and eat it alone.  Strange (and awfully sad) but true.

I also remember being forced to “clean my plate” when eating a meal.  Regardless of what was on it, how much, or if it was my second (or, sometimes, even third) serving.  I had to eat it all…stuffing myself beyond full.  Way beyond.  My step-father was such a control freak that he often made my plates for me, which compounded the problem.  He served me (a child) just as he served himself.  The portions were already horribly distorted – even for a grown man.  This is something I do not push on my children.  I usually serve small portions (tiny, in fact) and tell them they are to eat until they feel full.  If that means they do not eat everything, they do not eat everything.  Period.

I have two memories that are so vivid they seem as though it was yesterday.  One of which I will not share (because it is truly distasteful for public).  The other; however, is of my mother lying on bed with a giant bowl beside it.  She was lying flat on her back, arms and legs outstretched with her pants unbuttoned and unzipped.  She was miserable, but she was not sick.  We had just eaten (of all things) Thanksgiving dinner, and she was so full she felt ill.  I remember her lying on the bed for hours moaning and praying (out loud) to God that she would just throw up already so she could feel better.  She swore she would never eat another bite of turkey or apple pie again in her life.  Of course, in the middle of the night I found her crouched in the kitchen picking at the white meat while everyone else was supposed to be sleeping.  So much for never eating turkey again.

I also remember being upset (over a boy, no less) and my mother curling up on the couch with me…and a half-gallon of ice cream.  She was soothing my heart with kind words (and sugary, frozen fat) assuring me that I would not be sad forever.  This was something she often did when I was heartbroken or distraught about something – feed me.  We also took every opportunity to celebrate successes with…can you guess?…food.  So, eat when you are sad and depressed, eat when you are happy and celebratory, just eat.

Do not misunderstand me, I love my mother dearly.  I mention these things not to shame her (or make her look bad), but because these experiences helped to shape my unhealthy relationship with food.  Without recognizing these experiences, I doubt I could have truly understood where my dependency began, and just how deeply rooted it is.  That is certainly not to say I cannot beat this addiction (because I am doing just that now), that just means I have a serious battle that I should not take lightly.

Have you ever considered where your bad habits stem from?  How important do you think recognizing their origin is to changing those habits?

-Erica

5 responses to “The Beaten Path

  1. Reblogged this on inspiredweightloss.

  2. Your post reminds us that our own relationship with food will set an example to our children. I, too, do not force my children to finish everything on their plate – if they are hungry they will eat. And when they are hungry I try to encourage them to eat fruit, or crackers and cheese. And the only time we use food to celebrate is the special dinner on a birthday with cake. Hopefully they will grow up to have a healthier relationship with food than their mom 🙂

    • I have that same hope for my daughters, Colline. I also hope (given a healthier relationship with food) they will never know the battles of their own weight. My older daughter (now seven) has already expressed concern about being fat. She thought that “you just got fat as an adult” because every adult in her life is overweight. She cried one night (she’s super sensitive) in my arms telling me how she did not want to be fat. I have to tell you…that was the moment something clicked in my head. That night was approximately 22 weeks ago, and my 20th weekly weigh in is tomorrow. I felt horrible that night because I was part of the reason my daughter was *afraid* to grow up, *afraid* to be fat. I knew something had to change…and that something was me.

      -Erica

  3. yep, the everything on the plate is dang familiar

    • J, I think a lot of people experienced that as a child. There was a time when that was a necessity, of course (think the Depression). However, the children raised in that time never grew out of that mindset, which means it was passed on to their children…and their children. Even though food was now readily available (and more unhealthy/highly processed than ever before), people were still forcing mass quantities of food into their stomachs. It is a habit passed down, which sometimes makes it harder to recognize (and to change) because that is how you were raised.

      -Erica

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