Yesterday I posted this article with a small write-up about how I got it and some questions I had after reading it like can we truly help our young women or is it a battle we’ll always be fighting? As someone who would love to get into programming for young women (high school and college-aged) on how to make food and nutrition fun while also promoting a healthy body image, after I read the story, I felt discouraged that I could never do that in a successful way 😦 So before getting sad, I felt like I’d open the discussion to you before I talked about my reaction. It was nice to hear what you had to say and also like always, it made me feel better 🙂
For background, it was stated that in 2002, a study showed that more than half of high school students had engaged in some form of disordered eating whether it was from fasting, diet pills, bingeing, purging, laxatives or even smoking. My research from the survey I did from all of you (thank you thank you thank you) actually follows a similar pattern because 85% of you either have an eating disorder, have recovered from an eating disorder or know someone who’s had an eating disorder. While I’m not surprised, it was just sad to see it in plain numbers.
But while so many are worried about the state of obesity in this country (and don’t get me wrong, it is an issue), people are not also realizing that some of the obese are actually eating disordered too. The more we talk about the food, the more polarized we’re getting instead on focusing on a true health. Sounds like the past health care talks if you ask me…
So what can parents truly do to help their children grow up in a healthy environment where there are few “good””bad” labels and where food is a normal, delightful and fueling experience rather then one that brings a sense of guilt and shame? Like Elle said, I’m actually scared too about having a little girl one day. Not because I don’t think I could handle it, but because I don’t want to be so nervous about her eating enough to make it a worse experience.
I think the key is to open up the conversation of food, feelings and body image where it’s a safe and comfortable place. My mom always made me feel comfortable to talk with her, it was sometimes MY perfectionism that thought I couldn’t. Which is a whole other issue. Even if we open up the conversation, who’s to say what her perceptions are or herself and others? But I thought the author’s ideas were interesting to when she decided to model healthy living instead of just talking about it.
I’ve tried to forget all I once knew about calories, carbs, fat and protein; I haven’t stepped on a scale in seven years. At dinner I pointedly enjoy what I eat, whether it’s steamed broccoli or pecan pie. I don’t fetishize food or indulge in foodieism. I exercise because it feels good, and I never, ever talk about weight.
But while that sounds like a great plan, she goes on and says how completely unnatural it is and how it actually makes her more conscious about what she’s eating in this “antidiet.” I think there’s a harm in pretending everything fine too because it shows an air of perfection and no one is perfect.
We’ve come full circle with still no answer. Parents are trying to help their daughters by normalizing, but instead un-normalize it by showing a faux sense of health or concern.
To put the cherry on the top, her little girl at six years old looked up at her and said Mama, don’t get f-a-t, O.K.? and while the author said that at least she didn’t hear it from her, what are we truly fighting against? Society or ourselves? which leads me to another great article here that I’ll talk about tomorrow….
How was food talked about in your family as you grew up? Did your parents have a healthy relationship with food? If not, how did it affect you? I have a friend who’s mother used to measure everything she ate and who’s father over-exercises and still doesn’t think he has a problem even though they recently helped her recover from her own eating disorder 😦