Let’s go a bit further back. I was born into a family that loves food. We celebrate with food, we love with food, and we even soothe pain with food. I know that all families have some traditions around food. But my family had food around traditions. Family holiday photos frequently have food in the foreground or background. On the Fourth of July, Grandpa would make homemade ice cream. During the Christmas season, my grandma would make cookies, cakes, fudge, pies, doughnuts, and candy. Actually, Grandma made many of those things on a regular basis. My grandpa (who never appeared to struggle with weight – the only person in my family to avoid obesity) wanted dessert every day and he wanted it with his meal.
I have so many fond memories of going to my grandma’s house. There were always homemade biscuits for breakfast, fresh cookies in her tug boat cookie jar, and her refrigerator was always stocked with cola in the bottle. When I was sick, she made my favorite foods including mashed potatoes and ice cream floats. When it was my birthday, she always cooked what I requested – Mexican. And, even though my birthday is the day before Christmas, she always made me a special birthday cake – one with no hint of Christmas in the decorations. She showed our family so much love with each recipe she made (whether she actually used a recipe or not).
There was also a dark side to the food in my family and I learned it well – sneaking food, eating when no one was looking. To this day, I have no idea where the shame that must have driven this behavior came from. I only know that I was not the only one doing this. Even though I have made a lot of progress along my journey…this one sneaks up on me every once in a while.
I have worked very hard to view food as fuel, as the source of energy that allows my body to do what I want. That’s not to say that I don’t attempt to eat food that tastes good; rather, I try to eat food purposefully, mindfully, and when appropriate. These are all good ideas, not always easy for someone who comes from a tradition of food. If this is the beginning, what happened between then and now?