Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Our past can haunt us or help us

Writing my introduction last week really got me thinking. Long after I hit the publish button, memories of my ups and downs with my weight kept flooding back. The good, the bad, the pounds of Oreos.

UPDATED TO ADD: Just got back from WW meeting - I'm down 1.2 lbs for the week. Total loss to date: 24.4 lbs!

I had a eureka moment back at the beginning of the year following one of my WW meetings. The discussion focused on the WHY behind what makes our comfort foods so comforting. With the thought that if we know what triggers our binges or lapses in judgment, we can at least head them off at the pass.

I thought back to my childhood, all the fried foods and cheesy dishes - all the things that made special occasions special. Grandma's stuffing at Thanksgiving, fancy appetizers found in that month's Redbook, green bean casserole, broccoli souffle (which on the surface sounds healthy, but once the cream and cheese got a hold of it, all nutritional value was lost). And then the desserts. It was in that arena that my "ah, ha" moment hit me.

My mother prided herself each gathering on finding new, exciting desserts to show off. She was a working mother, always short on time and homecooked meals were not in surplus. Quick and easy was a survival mode - I'm sure you busy moms and dads can relate. She'd clip recipes she'd come across or had been given by a friend. Hoarding them until the time presented itself and she could wow the masses with her latest culinary delight. I remember the pride she took in those offerings. I remember how loved I felt when she cut that piece of Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie and handed it to me. It was her heart on that plate - handed right to me to let me know how important I was.
Not to over analyze, but there is a little bit of that memory played out every time I find myself in front of a pan of brownies or birthday cake. For reasons I am painfully aware of, those treats offer me love and warmth - they make me feel special. That little voice in my head telling me I deserve that feeling - I work hard and I'm a good person - I owe it to myself. The universe owes me, doesn't it?

After that WW meeting, I thought more about this. I realized that I'm starting this trend with my daughter Parker already. Oh, I haven't perfected the Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie, mind you, but I do tend to reward her with food and use food to express my love for her. I remember after dinner one night trying to find something to give her for dessert. My husband cautioned me that she didn't need dessert after EVERY meal. And I thought to myself 'But then how will she know I love her?'. Bam! That'll wake you up.

The behavior modification is a big piece for me in this journey - just as difficult as adding regular exercise - maybe more so. And I'm confident that once I have a good grip on this piece, the journey will get easier.

I'll always be the product of my childhood - we all are. I'll cherish the memories of Mom and all the ways she showed her affection for me. But I'll remind myself that her love for me was absolute and unconditional - whether there was a piece of pie involved or not.


Domestic Extraordinaire said...

good luck to you on your journey. I had to analyze my eating habits as well. We never had much food in the house when I was a kid and so now that we always have food, I eat because the food is there. Now I have to remind myself to eat because I realize that I don't know what hunger feels like because I dealt with it for so long as a kid.


Susan said...

Excellent observations about the whole food = love phenomenon.

I was lucky to grow up in a home where Mom was quite health-conscious (though it sucked that my friends avoided our house, because we "didn't have anything good to eat.") Still, I got fat anyway.

But Mom tried to show her love for us by preparing healthy new recipes that MIGHT get us to eat fish or vegetables. It sometimes worked.

Now, I'm trying to carry on that tradition with Cassie, always talking up the veggies and fruits and how delicious they are. She thinks a sugar-free popsicle is the best dessert ever. I guess my point is, healthy food can = love, too!

Susan at Mr. and Mrs. Get Fit

Maura said...

That's a powerful revelation and I'm sure it will help you as you work to change your habits. A good reminder that we should probably all take a look at what makes us tick once in a while.

Headless Mom said...

Oh how I wish that my husband would understand this. He is the one that has to have dessert every night and it ruins it for me. Luckily I have gotten past having to have something when everyone else does. Especially when it is something that I don't even like!

Anonymous said...

WOW ...it's a good thing that you can see the relationship with food and great feelings. My Grandmother's both made sure they had homemade goodies for my siblings in the house when we visited. I still think back to those days. Now people buy crap from COSTCO and try to pass it off as GOOD food. Learning to cook good food and not eating out is tough in our busy lives. Finding time and motivation to exersize is equally tough..but like all things small steps lead to bigger ones. Like the Talking Penguin sang to Baby Santa Clause ...Put one foot in front of the other and soon you'll be walkin down the street!
(I think it was year without a Santa Clause...I drank alot of egg nog when I was younger )