Warning: this post is kind of heavy. Please keep in mind I am not an expert on anything except myself, my life, and my experiences. I am not a doctor or expert in this field, this is only my opinion and my thoughts on the subject.
With so much in the media about Childhood Obesity right now, it’s all I can think about lately. My childhood. My experience with food and eating as child.
Of course, you all know that I love The Biggest Loser, and on this new season they have children on each team that are supposed to be ambassadors for Childhood Obesity. They show some clips from the children’s lives and it no surprise to me what they are dealing with, because that’s exactly what I did as a kid. In fact, I can relate to every one of those kids.
One of them hid chocolates and food under his bed. GUILTY. One wants to be a cheerleader, but isn’t because she is bigger that the other girls. Yep, me too. And the other is struggling through high school feeling different because she is bigger than the other girls. Again, I did too.
I used to steal candy bars from my mom’s “secret” stash, I’d eat them in my room and hide the wrappers under my bed. Or take them out to the barn and hide the wrappers out there. I also used to sneak out to out shed where we had a big chest freezer, to eat the ice cream straight from the carton. Why? Because I wasn’t allowed to have those things other wise but I knew it was there and I wanted it.
This isn’t something that ever went away. A few years ago, I would scrounge up enough change to go to McDonald’s and buy two hamburgers, and literally stuff them in my mouth. Two bites. Done. I had to make sure to hide it from my boyfriend at the time, he would have been pissed. He was very controlling. Anyway, I did this type of thing once or twice a week. Even last year, I ran to the store for something and ended up buying a box of Pop Tarts and ate them before I got home, and I only lived two blocks from the store. Then I hid the packaging from my husband.
I don’t know why I’ve continued to do this kind of destructive eating as an adult. I think its because I feel like this kinds of foods are “off-limits”. Luckily, I think I’ve got this under control now. Last year when I bought the Pop Tarts, I felt guilty for hiding them from Blake, so I confessed and even blogged about it. (Here’s that post) I think that’s the last time it happened.
As a kid, my sister was a cheerleader. It wasn’t through school but they would go to some games and cheer at parades, nothing huge but I wanted to be a cheerleader too. I don’t know the words or anything specific, but it was clear to me that I couldn’t be a cheerleader because I was too big. It sucked.
I wasn’t an obese kid, but I was chubby. The only thing that kept me from being a fat kid, is that I loved playing. I played basketball, rode bikes for miles, and took a lot of walks to explore our farm. I also worked on the farm; feeding cows, changing water, and I raised sheep for 4-H. Through high school and middle school I kept up the basketball and started running track.
I guess I’m telling you all this because it seems like a lot of people think that children shouldn’t be on the show. I think those people don’t know what it’s like to be a child struggling through life judged or limited because of their size.
I wish I had learned about nutrition as a kid. I wish my Mom had forced veggies on me, instead of canned ravioli. I’m not saying any of this is my Mom’s fault, I’m saying sitting where I am now I wish I learned more about health and nutrition. It’s funny because I can remember damn near everything I learned about the Aztecs, but its of no use to me now. Why do I remember that stuff? Because my awesome 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Criss, made it fun! Let’s do that with nutrition.
This is something I plan to tackle with my children. I want to teach my kids that we have to eat veggies because they have vitamins essential to our bodies. I want to teach my kids that whole grains are heath healthy. I hope to never use food as a behavior modifier, like “if you are good, we will get ice cream”. I’m sure it will be tough and I’ll mess up, but I really hope to teach my kids about these kinds of things. I hope my kid don’t have to struggle being bigger than other kids, but I also want to teach them that its OK to be different or look different. Another thing I never learned, but that’s a whole different story.