Pass the cake. No don’t.

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Some days it all goes a bit wrong.

Today we had a photographer coming over for a newspaper article that I am in. They wanted a picture of Joni and Wilbur and I. I expect what they didn’t want is what happened.

When I told Joni about the photographer she showed me the range of faces she’d be willing to pull. None of which were her at her best.

The photographer arranged to come at Wilbur’s nap time, so he was grumpy and obsessed with getting as close to the camera as he could to yell CHEESE and hit the poor man with a toy cow.

Just before the man arrived Wilbur shoved his hands so far into his mouth that he was a little bit sick. I ran to the kitchen to get a cloth, tripped over the stair gate and fell on my knee so hard that I saw stars. Meanwhile, Joni had walked around in the sick. Good good.

Anyway the man arrived, Joni spent the entire photoshoot aggressively throwing toys around or biting her nails and Wilbur spent the time trying to run off, pull my top down or get into the kitchen to eat chocolate buttons.

So it’s lucky that I felt really confident about how I looked and knew I’d look great in the paper. Oh. No. Wait. I did not. I made the mistake of asking to see the photos. I now have the image of my big double chin and huge face engraved on my retina, it will haunt me until I see it print and then it will haunt me some more.

The photographer left and we went into town and it was all I could do to not eat every single slice of chocolate cake in Wokingham Borough. And there lies the problem. Food and I have this toxic relationship. Specifically cheese and chocolate (not together, never mix sweet and savoury – duh) are my go-to buddies. They are my blanket on a cold day and my comfort. It’s a familiar story for many people, I know. Comfort eating is old news. It’s an uncomfortable truth for me – another thing I am embarrassed to admit because it feels so weak to admit that food controls me a bit. It’s such a vicious cycle of self loathing followed by eating followed by more self loathing. I have been living like it forever I think. It’s so horrible to feel so self obsessed, writing this is uncomfortable. I shouldn’t care what I look like, and if I care so much then why haven’t I done something about it? How do I break the cycle? I’ve successfully lost weight in the past, but that’s separate – this is about mentally separating food and drink from feelings. Is it even possible?? I don’t know. I had a bowl of soup and a coffee whilst the children slept in the buggy in the end but I’m pretty sure I don’t have the will power to not eat my way out of these feelings. No one wants to slap me in the face and tell me to snap out of it more than I do.

I am completely desperate though to not pass this on to my children. How can I help them have a healthy relationship with food and, more importantly, teach them ways to manage their feelings better than I have? I know I’ll probably be a causal factor in a whole host of so far unidentified issues in their lives but I would love for them not to have this specific problem. I guess the reality is that it starts with me. Children are surprisingly good at highlighting flaws and then copying them. I need to somehow break this pattern and as those of you who have suffered with fluctuating weight and comfort eating will be able to relate – this not an easy task at all.

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12 Responses to Pass the cake. No don’t.

  1. Well done for being so honest! I have the exact same issue but never talk about it. Well done for facing it head on and publicly!

  2. I know the feeling – I love food (chocolate, pastry and cheese!) and I find it difficult to say no to the occasional treat, which then leads to treats everyday, which causes me to gain weight! I’m learning to say no, and learning that food doesn’t make me happy if I overheat, but it’s so difficult – it’s a journey that I think is going to take my whole life!
    Great post, I really relate xx

  3. Joanna says:

    I was just thinking today about all the things it would be nice to avoid passing down to our children. On the flip-side, what would be great to give them is some self-awareness and you’re doing great at that already.

    In terms of practical advice, I would suggest the book Making A Change For Good – a 30 day retreat into awareness, compassion and love, and I Don’t Want to, I Don’t Feel Like it: How Resistance Controls Your Life. http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0961475498/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_UT4atb1KTPCZE .

    • bornin2011 says:

      Thank you Jo – I am just looking up that book now. Yes, self awareness is so important to me. I marvel at Joni’s emotional intelligence for one so small, its a real gift.

  4. chloebridge says:

    Total complete snap with the eating. Not good. Also, children are always a nightmare at photoshoots, but the then the photos surprise you by being good (of them, not of us, that’s never good, unfortunately).

  5. Sarah says:

    I think a key thing is don’t regard ANY food as a treat for them. Certain foods were treats in my house growing up, and I still regard them as special and better, only now I do my own shopping and can treat myself every day!! They are all things that are high in fat and/or sugar. When I am losing weight (like now) I feel like their absence is a punishment.

    • bornin2011 says:

      Yes – exactly. I had a friend who had a MASSIVE drawer full of chocolate bars in their kitchen, I remember as a child wondering how the hell they hadn’t just sat their and eat it all … I realise now that it had no power over them – seems mind blowing, still!

  6. Cathy says:

    I think the fact everybody who reads this can identify shows how common a warped attitude to food is. It’s rarely an isolated issue as you say – diet and exercise can treat the symptoms but not the cause. When you’re talking about disordered eating it’s always about more than just ‘I like cake,’ which means a simple diet or cutting out the cake isn’t going to work – you will just seek the outlet elsewhere or return to it once your self-defined period of deprivation is over.

    I do think it becomes more apparent when we have children because we are automatically stripped down to our most vulnerable – we are more tired, stressed and overwhelmed than we perhaps were pre-children – and because in raising our own children we are forced to confront our childhoods too. In that we either blindly copy everything our parents did with us, or we choose a different path which then leads to uncomfortable reflections such as, WHY don’t I want to blindly repeat how my parents raised me?

    I wish I had an answer. For me it’s not so much comfort eating – although I can go TO TOWN on a packet of biscuits when I’m tired – but booze that’s the real danger area. After a tough day I could happily down a bottle of wine in less than an hour all by myself, either in front of the TV or the laptop. Not exactly healthy behaviour! The self-loathing that follows such excessive outbursts is textbook, cured only of course by more of the behaviour in the first place ‘to make myself feel better’ or vows of abstinence broken ‘because it’s the weekend’ or ‘I’ll just have one….’ or a defiant ‘well only BORING PEOPLE don’t drink!’ It’s a very classic cycle. I feel a bit anxious already about stopping breastfeeding because then the reason not to sit down with a bottle every night is effectively removed.

    In an ideal world we’d all be able to access counselling and go through this journey of self-reflection before we had children. In practice, identifying the problem is one step and infinitely better than ignoring it. I’m fortunate enough to have a friend who is training as a counsellor and she’s been of great help to me recently, as I have found myself confronting some rather uncomfortable truths about myself, and my own childhood. She suggests keeping a journal when these feelings of self-hatred arise. Mine all seem to be triggered by an intense desire to be a good parent and an intense desire NOT to repeat certain patterns from my own childhood. My fears are that I am failing my children or letting them down with my own character flaws. That sounds simplistically like I am trying to be a perfect parent and I am not, I don’t believe such a thing exists. All magazione-style debate around this kind of issue just boils down to ‘stop putting pressure on yourself to be perfect!’ Which misses the point completely. We all know in ourselves what we consider acceptable and what we do not. Wanting to find ways to do better is human nature and I refuse to just say ‘well I don’t want to be perfect so I’ll just continue with behaviours I feel do not benefit my children and seek validation for it to make myself feel better.’

    Noting down things I feel have worked well with my children that day, and things that I could have done better, is a more cathartic outlet than cake or wine and also forms a record. That way when I sink into a fit of self-flagellation and start shouting about how I’m a useless mother, I can go back and see in black and white the things I have done right as well as the things I have done wrong, and a little bit of balance should be restored.

    That was quite an essay. I’d like to blog about this myself but wouldn’t be able to be as open and honest about it as I would like, as I don’t blog anonymously and my parents read it….. ;)

    • bornin2011 says:

      As always Cathy you speak right to me and I totally agree with what you’ve said. Love the idea of writing things down, I did this with work recently and stuck it in the front of my notebook for days when I doubt myself (every day). If you ever want to blog anonymously you know i’d be happy to host your posts x

  7. raisingthem says:

    Oh my days… chocolate and cheese… I’m with you mama! I have a physical need for chocolate sometimes… my waistline tells me I shouldn’t. But chocolate and I… we have a thing going on. ♥

  8. Stresshead says:

    Wow. Are you me?
    The self loathing / eating / more self loathing cycle – and then being disgusted at your own self obsession is just so accurately and eloquently put. Well done!
    My kids are 7 & 5 and I believe the boat has already sailed on their issues with food. One eats everything he can possibly get hold of – if its in the house and he knows about it, he wants it, and won’t stop until he gets it. The other eats very little and holds ‘eating up nicely’ like a gun to my head.
    Unfortunately I feel this is the least of their worries. My temper and anger and lack of self control is already evident in their behaviour towards each other. It just kill me to see what I’m doing to them. I wonder sometimes if they’d be better off without me…
    And there I go on the self-obsessed behaviour again!
    Great post. I’m sure it wasn’t as nearly bad as it seems in your head. But I do have much sympathy for the situation!

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