Sometimes when I think about the journey I’m on it’s hard not to think about the habits that I developed as a child. I’ve always been a ‘big’ kid. In the picture above I would have been between 2 and 3 years old. Already a little chunk and it only got worse from there. I was the fat kid in grade 1 and kids were cruel but I developed a thick skin and managed to come through the other side with my self esteem relatively unscathed thanks to a family who loved me and a father who despite his many other faults, always told me that I could be anything I wanted to be. I’m thankful that I didn’t believe what the kids said about me and so thankful that I was strong enough in character to stand up for myself. But it wasn’t easy and it’s really hard no to look for someone other than myself to blame.
We didn’t live on junk food. Far from it. Our meals were home cooked and consisted of meat and veggies, dessert at home was only for special occasions so where did it all go wrong? My problem has always been not necessarily what I ate, but how much of it. Portion sizes were large and of course we were always encouraged to finish everything on our plates because we ‘can’t waste it’. I know that there are millions of people across the globe who were in the same situation. How many of us were damaged by being made to eat everything on our plates? And while we didn’t eat a lot of junk food at home, when we were out, if we wanted a treat we only had to ask. To this day my mother still has trouble saying no. I was never told no when I wanted an extra serving or that extra slice of cake. I just wish she had have been a little tougher. I know she was doing the best she knew how. We all do don’t we? She’d never had a weight problem and I remember hearing many times that it’s just ‘puppy fat’ and that I would grow out of it. Well I didn’t. And I grew up never knowing when to stop. Actually, that’s not true. I knew when I should stop. I just didn’t. Habits of a lifetime are the hardest to break. Not to mention I would see all of my friends eating copious amounts of crap and not get fat. We can’t deny that genetics and susceptibility to weight gain play a part. After all, there are 8 kids in my father’s family and half of them are fat. All brought up in the same household the same way, eating the same food so lets not pretend our wonderful genes don’t play a part. But I still wish my mother had been strong enough to say no. A bit of tough love might have saved me from myself.
Even though my son isn’t in the slightest bit overweight he does have half of my genes and who knows whether he will have a tendency to gain weight as he gets older. My childhood experience has given me the drive to do everything in my power to educate him about what is healthy for his body and what is not. He knows very well what ‘sometimes foods’ are and why and I never ever use food as a reward. Trying to find the happy medium between healthy eating and making sure he doesn’t feel deprived of what everyone else seems to be allowed is an uphill battle but we’ll get there.
I have one particular friend who has an overweight child and while I would never interfere in the way she raises her children, I’ve seen the food she buys. I know that there is always junk food in her house. Things like chips, soft drink, chocolate and lollies are pantry staples. I’m sure they don’t eat them all every day, but I would never dream of keeping that kind of food in the house on a regular basis at all. I look at her son and I know he’s bullied at school and I just fail to comprehend why as a parent you wouldn’t be doing everything in your power to change that situation. It makes me so sad. I’m sure when people see me and then see my sons school lunch box and hear me prattling on about the evils of sugar and promoting clean eating they must think I’m a hypocrite of epic proportions. If only they knew. One of the parents in our school community actually scoffs every time someone mentions health food and says half in jest ‘kids need sugar’. It’s infuriating and it takes everything I have to hold my tongue. She may never have had a weight problem and her kids might not either but how can you be so ignorant in this day and age when the obesity epidemic is at an all time high and only on the rise? At the end of the day, I know I can only do what I know is right for my family and hope that everyone else slowly opens their eyes and sees what we are doing to our children.