Friday, June 7, 2019

Fat Friday #3: Eating Disorders Start Early

Here is my part in a thread about how to encourage children to have a healthy relationship with food. The rest of the thread is here.

I developed a bad relationship with food early on. When I was young my family was pretty poor, so we ate a lot of stuff like boiled soybeans and buckwheat groats. I still like buckwheat groats, but if I never see another boiled soybean, it can’t be too soon. So, food insecurity was a thing in my early life.

However, i also learned early on that the worst thing you can possibly be is fat. My parents made sweets a verboten thing, so I started sneaking candy whenever I could find it. I ended up shoplifting candy bars from the natural foods store my mother shopped at. My parents made me pay for the candy. The elderly lady that owned the store forgave me, but I still felt terrible.

My father was also insistent that we eat what was put in front of us whether we liked it or not. I hated liver with a blazing passion. I slipped my portion to the cat under the table and went hungry.

When my son came along I’d always insist that he eat some sort of reasonably nutritious food before having dessert, but I never forced him to eat anything he didn’t like. As it turns out, he’s high-functioning autistic, so food textures are a bigger thing with him than they are with non-autistic people. My family never understood this and scolded him for not eating what he was served and me for letting him be “spoiled.” 

I don’t think that forcing people to eat things they don’t want to eat is a good thing.

I also don’t think that teaching people that fat is the worst thing you can possibly be is a good thing.

I still have a really fucked-up relationship with food, and I’m now more than half a century old.


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