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Breaking the chain part 1

September 15, 2010 Leave a comment
Mel aged 5, Eleanor aged 2.5

Me aged 5, and Eleanor aged 2.5

This post  will no doubt be the start of a series of thoughts about the issues of food, exercise and weight management, and how to ensure I do the best for my daughter, in the face of worryingly body conscious early “tweens” , and the undoubted risk of the diseases of affluence such as heart disease that being unfit can only exacerbate.

For a bit of context, I’ve struggled with my weight for my entire adult life. I wasn’t a fat child – probably average, but remember starting to be body aware at around age 10, and already felt somehow less worthy than the very sporty/lucky girls in the class who could wear stretched jeans without a thought (it was the 80s… *cringe*). I was a pretty active kid, doing dance classes twice a week, enthusiastically swimming at weekends, and was on the school hockey team, and in retrospect all this probably staved off for a few years the creeping weight gain that began properly in my university years. Not surprisingly this coincided with a much increased intake of both alcohol and cheap unhealthy food, and a near total absence of exercise.

I’m certainly not blind to the old formula of food in – exercise = weight gain, and have twice over the last ten years lost around 3 stone, from a combination of reduced intake, portion control and getting off my bum more. This has taken monumental self control over several months at a time, and I’ve been incredibly proud of myself during the process, and while the effects last…
The weight loss industry isn’t as profitable as it is by accident, however, and as seems the usual rule, I have always gradually put the weight back on. Sadly it seems that my natural state is not to remain easily slim. I will battle on, and I’m sure I’ll lose more again, but in the meantime my priority has to be to prevent Eleanor from repeating the same destructive pattern.

As with most things once kids are involved, there are many different opinions on how to feed children, whilst hopefully avoiding the dreaded O word (obesity, in case you weren’t up to speed with the new social evil).

A lot of people still seem to think that the “We bore no truck with fussiness, so my kids eat anything” route is the way forward, and that’s what my parents did with both me and my brother. I can understand the horror of waste instilled in them from their war years parents, but for me it certainly wasn’t a successful strategy.
My brother now eats anything, and always did, so it didn’t change him in the slightest. As for me, I am still repulsed by the majority of the things I hated as a child, and we all had to suffer endless hours of tears and tantrums, throwing food on the floor etc as I was forced to try/not allowed to leave the room until I’d eaten things that physically made me gag.
Those things are almost entirely foods that although I like the flavour of (bananas/ tomatoes, peaches) the texture just makes me gag and I can’t keep them down.
It may be churlish to bring up my own constant yo-yo dieting and daliances with bulimia, but I can’t see a way that creating negative associations with food is ever going to have a healthy result.

Now Eleanor’s a toddler, and sadly past the early weaning “eat anything mushy I give her” stage. Currently I give her a selection of relatively healthy items to choose from at mealtimes, and throw away what she doesn’t want. Yes there’s food wastage, but her intake is balanced over the day and she does try different things of her own volition at different times and if not forced.

I just hope I can begin to break the chain. I know this is only the start.