Today I want to analyze my past eating habits and influences.
I grew up in a Mexican Family.
Food is central and sometimes the main attraction to most events, parties, gatherings and everyday life. Planning out breakfast, lunch and dinner usually takes place right after the previous meal is consumed.
Now, being in a Mexican Family does not imply that the only thing we ate was Mexican food. Far from it. Living in the border, there was a lot of variety of food. Pizza being a Saturday night favorite, Burger King, McDonalds; all those were family favorites.
When I was young, under 8, I was allowed to eat anything and everything I wanted. I wanted ice cream, “sure thing!” I wanted flour tortillas with butter (OMG), “how many?” Things like quantity and quality didn’t really factor into what I was eating. And honestly, it was the best time ever. Now, I believe at this time is when I started to get plump. Bear in mind, that I had my go at any food that I wanted to eat. I think to this day, I long for those days.
The kicker was the way it changed, overnight almost.
I began to be told “no.” There was less on my plate. I was denied the foods that brought me comfort. No more gansitos (Mexican snack cake), twinkies, and other snacks. Chips were only when we had a party or during the Super Bowl (I think this is when I developed my love for football) I could only have one soft drink and then water. (Now, why I would have soft drink at 8, well, that’s marketing for you. My kids don’t even touch that stuff) My food consumption had drastically changed.
And then my sister started eating solids. Now, I love my sister with all my heart, and there is nothing she can do that is wrong in my eyes. I defended her with my life, growing up. She was my baby and I would be dammed if someone or something hurt her. That said, she was a very picky eater. So much so, that there were things she wouldn’t eat. And so, my parents would buy the things she would. Like mini pizzas, cheese, flour tortillas, chicken nuggets, apple juice, the thin ham (sliced to almost tissue paper thickness) etc. I was told these foods were for my sister, to not eat them. If I wanted juice, I had to drink the orange/grapefruit because it burned the fat. (I WAS FREAKING 9 yrs. old!!) The apple juice was reserved for my sister since that’s the only juice she liked. Anyway, all those foods that were bought, were for my sister since she didn’t eat anything else. I didn’t get mad at her, though, it wasn’t really her fault. I was upset that all of a sudden, I had my go at food and then it was taken away. I was mad at my parents. How was it fair to deprive me of food that EVERYONE ELSE was eating?
So of course, I did what any kid/teenager/adolescent would do, I started sneaking food. This began around that time. I would get food from other places; grandparent’s house, aunt’s house, friend’s houses. I would hide my candy from parties and if they gave out chips, I would hoard them and hide them. I would wake up in the middle of the night and go to the kitchen and make myself a sandwich (one of the small pleasures in life) and eat it in the dark corner so no one would hear me. When the boy scouts would sell chocolate at school, I would use my allowance to buy 5-8 of those things. Wouldn’t tell a soul and eat them in my room and hide the wrappers. During lunch (we couldn’t buy our lunch ourselves, parents had to pay for the school lunches at my catholic school) I would sometimes throw away my lunch before going into the cafeteria and the teachers would feel bad for me and get me a hot lunch. This was usually when there was pizza, lasagna or chicken nuggets.
* I learned all the tricks to get the foods that I wanted.
* I learned how to sneak eat.
* I learned that all diet food was gross.
* I learned that I was too fat to eat all the good food (looking at my pictures from back then, I was certainly not fat, not even close.)
* I learned that what I wanted was not important.
* I learned that the foods for others in the refrigerator is not for me (hence why I still have a hard time eating food from my refrigerator if I bought it for the kids or my husband)
* I learned that I would eat just to spite my parents
* I learned that I would eat to feel good about myself.
Food brought me comfort. Food has ALWAYS made me feel better. The association of food with celebration was ingrained in me early, and it has never subsided.
It is these factors that I learned that has prevented me from realizing that food is just an energy source. I have heard the term “EAT TO LIVE, NOT LIVE TO EAT” many times, and I really, really want to make this my motto.
But inevitably, I fall back to emotional eating.
If I feel sad, I eat.
If I am happy, I eat.
I know that I have to work on this. It’s one of my major, if not the biggest obstacles I have in obtaining my goal.
Food is not my comfort, I’ll have to remember that.