Um, everything. No, not, not everything-but a lot.
Quick story (I swear!): Picture a cute little 9-year-old going off to Christmas Eve at Grandma’s house. Her mom is sick and staying home. On the girl’s way out the door with the rest of the family, her very thin mom says to her, “There are going to be a lot of cookies around, don’t blow it!” So what does the kid do? Out of rebellion, or compulsion, or fear of deprivation, she eats 13 of her grammy’s homebaked Xmas cookies (a baker’s dozen!)-and then feels intensely guilty.
That was my very first binge.
Was it my mom’s fault that I became a binge eater? No! This issue runs in my genes-and I believe I was predisposed to eating problems. But did her own preoccupation with health-food, calories and staying slim for the beach contribute to my fears and freaky food behavior? Obviously. Research has shown that mothers attitudes about weight and food have incredible influence over that of their daughters (sons, too, but to a lesser degree).
One of the things I had to do when I started to recover from emotional overeating was think about my mom’s attitudes were about food and weight-and start to separate them from my own. Have you done that? Why not start with these three Qs:
1. What messages did you get from your mom about the importance of weight and body size? (For me, it was that thin was pretty, curvy was not.)
2. Did your mother ever try to restrict or control what you ate as a kid or teenager? How did you react? (I sneaked food and got angry with her for it.)
3. Did your mother have a weird relationship with food? Was she always dieting, overeating or body snarking about her own shape?
Important note: This is so not about blaming our mothers. In my mom’s case, she came from a long line of very beautiful people who greatly valued appearance. She was a product of her environment, too. Throughout my binge-eating and weight struggles, she was there, trying to help me in the only ways she knew how. She and I talk plenty about all of this these days, and she says my experience with binge eating disorder has actually helped her gain a healthier relationship with food as she’s watched me heal my own. Nice!
What weight and food conflicts have you had with your mother (or father)? Sharing about them helps!