“I was bad yesterday—I had three slices of cheesecake!”
“It’s my ‘cheat’ day, so I can have pizza.”
“Oh! You’re eating broccoli! That’s so good!”
“He eats almost nothing… I wish I could survive eating like that!”
“I think you’ve had enough to eat already.”
If you don’t hear this sort of thing on a regular basis, you’re either:
a) a hermit, with little to no human contact;
b) blessed with family and friends who’ve broken free of diet culture;
c) Deaf (although if you’re not hearing it you might be seeing it in ASL); or
Since my kids were little, I’ve been insistent on one point: nobody is to discuss weight or diet in front of my children. But you know what? That kind of talk isn’t good for anyone at any age—and it’s bad for pretty much everyone. Can we just stop?
For one thing, the whole discussion is rooted in a fear of fatness, not to mention judgment of people who “allow” themselves to be fat. I think it behooves us all to test our beliefs against the available data; I’ve read enough studies and literature reviews of the research to be extremely skeptical of everything we’ve been told about weight and health. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. Reading that stuff left me feeling like we’ve all been lied to.
But back to the food talk. Can you imagine if an alien race were listening in on our conversations? They’d confidently report back to their leaders that we are a small-minded race who think of nothing but food: conversations always seem to come back to what was served or eaten, what shouldn’t have been eaten, what will be eaten tomorrow to balance out today’s intake, and how yesterday’s excess energy intake will be stored as adipose tissue. Bo-ring. People, we are better than this.
Let’s talk about something else. Anything else. What’s everyone reading these days? Has anyone travelled? Can someone explain the rules of cricket?
(You know what, forget I asked about cricket.)
I started this blog post intending to discuss how I talk to my kids about food in a way that won’t give them the neuroses that I was given. But how most adults relate to food is dysfunctional at best: if we’re enjoying our food we have to talk about how we shouldn’t be eating it, and if we take second helpings we have to remind ourselves and everyone else that we’ll pay for our transgression with unsightly weight gain. Let’s stop it. We all need food, we all deserve food, and we should all be able to enjoy it without shame, apologies, or guilt.