I love to eat, but I have a ton of other emotions surrounding that love, like disgust and shame and self-consciousness and disappointment. In other words, my relationship with food is complicated. As I do my best to be a good role model and promote body positivity and body acceptance and body confidence while, there are some things my kids will know about my relationship with food. If honesty truly is the best policy, my decision to be open and honest about my own struggles with eating disorders and self-love, can only help my children learn to love themselves and develop a healthy relationship with the food they need to survive (as well as the food they should totally feel comfortable enjoying).
I don’t want my children to see food as anything other than delicious and satisfying. Although I have absolutely no time to cook elaborate meals for the family, my partner and I do our best to serve tasty, healthy dishes (among the occasional take-out and fast food option). Our kids come food shopping with us and they understand why we choose certain kinds of yogurt (you know, the ones without the chocolate topping) and they delight in being able to pick out the week’s dessert or their favorite fruit for a snack. I can’t help but look back at my own childhood and think that maybe, just maybe, if I had been included in my family’s decisions about food I might not have developed my love-hate affair with all things chocolate.
Navigating food choices when you’re troubled by body image issues and/or an eating disorder, is a hellacious experience. I want my kids to know food’s place in their lives, and to never, ever, hate themselves for embracing that place. They should never feel bad about what, or how much, they eat. I think if I had a healthier relationship with food when I was younger, I could have avoided falling into the binge eating/binge exercising trap that consumed me throughout my 20s.
So, as I continue to recover from my disordered eating habits, I simultaneously try to model healthy behavior for my kids so that their relationship with food is vastly superior to my own. And as they get older, and more observant, I’ll be completely honest in my answers to any of their questions about my food choices and why my relationship with food is, like I mentioned, pretty complicated. Here are some things I’m prepared to share with them, should my kids want to know about my relationship with food: