Childhood experiences and adult habits

donidaily
donidaily Posts: 748 Member
edited July 2021 in Motivation and Support
I can't stop thinking about this article, in which the author describes how growing up with food scarcity still affects her habits around food as an adult: https://www.bonappetit.com/story/childhood-food-insecurity

I identified with so much of it, especially how feeling like there wasn't enough food to go around lead her to eat in secret, hoard, and race to get her share of family meals. Oof. Some of the lasting effects she describes:

"I don’t have trouble putting food on the table anymore...But I still obsess over food. I am still learning to recognize my own fullness. I’m still trying to stop devouring meals like I did as a kid. I don’t buy snack foods because I know I can’t stop eating them all in one sitting. I don’t sit in a locked bathroom binging, but I have an unconscious perception that food is scarce. My appetite is insatiable in the presence of finger foods. Shared appetizer platters beckon me like a siren: “Eat me before someone else does.” I go bonkers over food waste, wanting to save it from the trash by eating it."

Can anyone else relate? It has really given me a new understanding of some of my struggles with food.

Replies

  • ahoy_m8
    ahoy_m8 Posts: 2,830 Member
    Very moving, the article and poster recollections. I wasn't food insecure per se, but I do relate to bringing disordered attitudes about food from my childhood into my adulthood. I lingered over this at the end:

    "But by acknowledging that being able to feed ourselves is a form of health care—and treating it as such—perhaps we can eliminate the culture of shame around food, eating, and food insecurity, so that no kid has to go through what I did."

    The author seems to suggest there is no corollary shame attached to health care scarcity. Sadly, I think many children grow up knowing they can't see a doctor because the family can't afford it*. I'll never forget one friend in particular describing the agony of ear infections that didn't get prompt treatment, and his mom worked as a secretary in a doctor's office. It did not mean she could afford care for her kids. As an adult he carried resentment for that (it seemed against her). Maybe shame, too, but I can't really speak to his interior life.

    *I'm in the US and in a state in which 25% of children live in poverty and 13% are uninsured for health care. Even families with insurance often face high deductibles which make office visits for sick kids unaffordable (or at least blow the family budget). A wealthy US presidential candidate once notoriously said no one dies alone in their apartment because emergency room care is free. Nothing could be further from the truth. Emergency care is the most expensive, and the uninsured can be guaranteed they will be charged the highest (non-negotiated) rates and sought after for years by collection agencies. Health care access is just as real as food insecurity for children.
  • donidaily
    donidaily Posts: 748 Member
    Thank you so much for the responses ♥️ Reading the experiences shared here it is so clear that getting to a healthy lifestyle has to involve the mind as well as the body. Many of us have big things to unlearn. I find it hard to look back critically on my childhood, my mom especially loved us powerfully and tried to give us everything. But the fact is I did learn some lessons then that have not served me well later in life. At least this article encouraged me to have some compassion about those experiences and to question some of my habits.
  • springlering62
    springlering62 Posts: 5,140 Member
    I thought the article was brilliant. Really “food” for thought.
  • Nursegirl_jax
    Nursegirl_jax Posts: 43 Member
    edited July 2021
    My childhood experiences with food have been on my mind lately lately especially having a 3 year old and witnessing my mom trying to get my daughter to join the clean plate club. Perhaps this thread is the perfect place to unload. I never had food insecurity (my mom did growing up in the Philippines), but I do feel affected by my childhood. My mom always made me finish the food on my plate. I was heavy since I was 5 and put on my first diet at 9, yo-yo dieted through my school years and finally lost 60lb 11 years ago. I still yo-yo but not as badly. My parents worked opposite shifts most of the time so I had carte blanche to eat whatever diet food was in the house. The diet foods of the 90's were terrible IMO. Low fat everything but if you looked closely so much added sugar. No wonder my satiety ques were so out of whack. I look back and realize I never stood a chance at weight loss back then. Between that horrid fat free ice cream and then accompanying my parents to buffets when they were both awake, there was just no way I could be a healthy weight. Today I'm almost neurotic about eating dinner at home as a family when I'm off.
  • MargaretYakoda
    MargaretYakoda Posts: 1,944 Member
    I can relate.

    But also? I stopped when I got to the part about the wrapped cheese. Because a part of me went “that’s not food insecure…. That’s the expensive stuff!”
    Which was an emotional reaction based on my own upbringing. I don’t mean this to downplay the author’s experience.

    Funny story: There were six of us.
    Before my dad started to get extremely sick he won a contest from the Cumberland Farms near where he worked. All the milk your family could drink for a year.

    He came home with four gallons and told us to drink up. And boy did we ever!
    About a week into this the store owner took my dad aside and said “I just wanted to remind you. The prize is only for your own family. Not neighbors and friends.”
    So my dad showed him his wallet photos.
    The store owner smiled broadly and said “Well. Looks like the right family won this contest!”

    I still love milk. :)
  • Skyler103
    Skyler103 Posts: 112 Member
    Yeah, it's a wonder I'm as normal as I am with food. When I was little, my mom worked out of town almost every week. She was a regional manager for a chain of weight loss centers. The kind in the 70s where you'd get shots, but if you stopped taking the shots you'd gain the weight back. Probably some kind of amphetamine? My mom was never home, she barely ate anything and was beautiful! Nobody at school could believe she was my mom. I was a homely, overweight kid with bad hair. I lived mostly with my great grandmother. Anytime I was upset (which was all the time) she would make me a special treat to eat. I still have problems not rewarding myself with food.

    I wonder what the kids of today are learning about food? I don't have kids, but when I see people out with kids they always have a snack. Goldfish crackers or Cheerios in a Ziploc bag. I'm talking about toddlers. It seems like they're keeping their kids' mouths full so they don't have a fit in public or something. I don't remember having food available to me at any moment like that. Wonder if this practice is helping or hurting?
  • donidaily
    donidaily Posts: 748 Member
    edited July 2021
    Huh, interesting observation @Skyler103! I hadn't thought about it but yes, the constant supply of snacks does seem to be a modern parenting thing. But I also feel like when and where I grew up (rural upbringing) we just spent a lot more time at home, so maybe we did have snacks but not portable ones. I'm going to ask my mom. The focus was definitely big meals though, I spent a lot of time at one aunt's house and her mantra between meals and any time after dinner was "if you're hungry you can have a fruit". I still say this to myself 😆

    Loved the story about your mom's weight loss center...definitely another time wasn't it!
  • MargaretYakoda
    MargaretYakoda Posts: 1,944 Member
    donidaily wrote: »
    Huh, interesting observation @Skyler103! I hadn't thought about it but yes, the constant supply of snacks does seem to be a modern parenting thing. But I also feel like when and where I grew up (rural upbringing) we just spent a lot more time at home, so maybe we did have snacks but not portable ones. I'm going to ask my mom. The focus was definitely big meals though, I spent a lot of time at one aunt's house and her mantra between meals and any time after dinner was "if you're hungry you can have a fruit". I still say this to myself 😆

    Loved the story about your mom's weight loss center...definitely another time wasn't it!

    Constant snacks is definitely a modern parenting thing. But I think it’s an issue of busy working parents, and the fact that toddlers tend to be picky and grazers.

    I’m not sure I’ve seen the constant snacking thing happening much outside of the toddler/preschool age range. But I’ve been out of the childcare field for a bit over a decade.
  • gorple76
    gorple76 Posts: 162 Member
    I’ve been thinking quite a bit about my childhood experiences and my weight lately. I’m mid 40s and have been overweight (mostly obese) all my life. I’ve remembered a particular incident which I think hugely affected my mindset. At around 11, we were weighed and measured in school. I was obese and my mother and I had to have a follow up meeting with the health practitioner. I don’t clearly remember all that was said, but I left having seen a weight prediction chart saying I was doomed, leaving me with a sense of inevitability. I also remember the utter shame I felt. Both these things have given me a sense of just being made this way but also an inability to talk about it. It’s taken years to get to a point of being able to be open about it (and a very supportive partner) and even longer to believe that being overweight isn’t how I’m made - I can change it.