Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Food Musings-- The Way We Grow Up

I caught the tail end of some program on TLC the other night called, I Eat 33,000 Calories A Day. Or something like that. It was another program of super-obese people... I have mixed feelings about these things, a combination of interest and horror and some resentment, because there always seems to be a "look at the fat people in the zoo" element to them. I didn't see all of the show, but I did see most of the last segment, which was about a 640-lb. woman called Lisa, I think. And there were two things that really struck me.... one that I'll write about now, and another that I'll save for tomorrow.

The first was what she said about her family... she said that her mother had had a thing about sweets, that she'd buy things like that and hide them... but that Lisa knew how to find them. I listen to things like this and muse about the complexities of food behavior, about where these problems start. For both Michael and me, there were echoes of that same kind of thing. My mother never bought "good" stuff for general consumption... things like cookies and chips and so on. But she would buy things like that and "hide" it in a cupboard that no one was supposed to go into. Stuff that was essentially for her. Michael reports the same kind of thing... that his father would buy things like cheese and cakes and hide them in the wardrobe and measure how much was there. Besides being a little weird all in all, I wonder how this kind of thing plays into food attitudes.

I look at my son who has, in my opinion, no food issues at all. He eats until he is not hungry and then stops. He's a teenager, so he sucks down milk like there was a direct line to a cow, and can eat a staggering amount of various things... but he will have things like Doritos and candy around forever. I finally threw away the last of his Halloween candy from more than a year and half ago. He has never been denied food. He has never been told that he could not have certain kinds of food... and he's always been fed a variety of food, both of the very healthy and the more junk sort. He prefers the good stuff although he loves a lot of the junk, too... but the point is, he could have these "forbidden" foods around forever and totally ignore them, especially if he was told not to eat them. Even these days, we'd have to throw it or eat it within a relatively short period of time. The compulsion remains.

Would we have been different if we had grown up in environments in which food wasn't some kind of prize? Was this true for you, and how do you think that it affected your interaction with food?

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