Sunday, 28 November 2010


Anyone else's family have something to do with their weight?

I know that mine did.

When I was about 10 I put on a little puppy fat. I have notes I wrote to myself at that time with diet plans I'd devised, encouraged by my parents. I was encouraged to feel like it was not acceptable to be overweight, and that I should have the willpower to resist food, that I should learn to control what I ate. My mother's eating habits are very controlled. She has eaten the same breakfast and lunch pretty much EVERY day since I was a child (I am 26), and the dinner would always be on a rotation, 7 different meals for the 7 days of the week...even when I go home for holidays it's the same as when I was 5 years old...still salad on a monday...

At the same time I had a father who cooked and cooked and stuffed us (my sister and I) full of food. He was big into massive portions, so much so that even with four of us (two of them children) for dinner he normally cooked 1kg spaghetti and 600g mince. Imagine! Obviously we always felt guilty for leaving food, whilst simultaneously feeling guilty for overeating. I remember constantly scorning myself for my lack of self control. To be thin was something I would do if I could only improve my strengh of character, change my personality. I was weak. I couldn't resist.

Typical breakfast with my Dad was 2 slices of buttered toast, can of spaghetti with melted cheese, fried egg on top (aged 10)! I distinctly remember eating bags and bags of crisps and sweets in one day as a child, often stuffing myself. We were spoilt with many trips to McDonalds, a lot of takeaways...always a treat, always a comfort, always something when Mummy was 'tired' and wanted something easy to shut us up.

Otherwise, my mother was very rigid and strict with us. We couldn't have sugary cereal with Mummy, with Daddy it was huge bowls of Frosties or Coco Pops. Dad would buy us bumper bags of sweets while Mum would moan about our weight. My sister was chubby too and I know we both have the same issues now. Funny hey?

I remember my Mum and Dad always arguing in front of us over food. How much we should be getting, what not to eat, my Dad insisting we were kids and should be indulged, my Mum getting us to eat grapefruit and Allbran for breakfast. Mum was pretty tight on portion control...Dad went overboard at every meal...3 burgers, a whole can of baked beans, cheese, a whole plate of chips. All for one ten year old. You can see the problem? He was a big fan of pie with icecream with cream poured on top so that it hardened and cracked. I guess what kid could resist such a party? My Dad would get so offended and get a hurt look on his face if we rejected his food. As teenagers we obviously became more and more health conscious, asking for semi-skim milk, buying healthier snacks, using less oil and butter....we started refusing the food my Dad would cook. For me this was very hard. Partly because I didn't want to upset him, partly because it tasted so good and made me feel good. I guess that's why I started skipping meals in the day and throwing that I could eat his food and make him happy.

Hurtful comments that you are 'fat' and 'chubby' and 'heavy' and 'pig-like' from your relatives are not great. But I think what really stuck with me was the two conflicting ideals that came from my parents...which way was I to go? Who was I supposed to please? Why did I have to choose?

Well, here we are, many years later and I still fight the battle between restriction and over-indulgence day after day. Will I ever be free?

Anyone else have experiences to share on this? Interesting stuff.


  1. I had experiences like this in a bit of a different but very similar way. My parents never meant for their little comments to affect me the way that they did. I was never overweight ( i think ) but I do remember getting told if I kept eating the way I was- I'd get a double chin and I spent months feeling my chin making sure I wasn't getting one. I would stare at myself in the mirror or long times just looking. I also rarely eat egg anymore because of little minor details that were made about the food as a child. Being asian , it is expected that I am small and skinny-- so anything other than that was odd and not appropriate.

    Stay strong! You can do it. Even with a past that haunts.

  2. Yes. I can relate to your post very well. My dad was something like a chef. He loved baking, and cooking elaborate meals. On top of that, he believed in the value of having a family to sit together at the dining table and eat together. He used to get offended if we did not take 2nd helping of whatever he had cooked.

    On the other hand, when I returned to stay with my mom (my parents are divorced) and the family, she cooked junk food pretty much, and we did not sit together at the table. It was easier for me to restrict and get away with not eating.

    So it was very challenging to have two opposite experiences with food and eating.

    I still struggle to this day to find a "right" balance of eating moderately without eating too little or eating too much. It's hard.

  3. I will never forget the day my mum was pegging out the washing. She hung up her jeans and then hung mine next to them. She said "Look at that! You really need to lose a bit of weight hunny"

    I am 5 foot 9. My mother is 5 foot exactly.

    Pretty sure there should have been a difference hey?

    I was 16, and stopped eating regular food, drank only orange juice and ate only toilet paper and laxatives.

    I got down to 7 stone, which looking at photos of me from that time, look like I had just walked out of Belsen. A hollow eyed, bandy skeleton.

    I now weigh 20 stone, have massive issues with weight and know that the issues with food are because of my mother.

    I always think that I am old enough to not let this shit bother me, but something has been hardwired into my brain. Its like I cant change it.

    I feel safe when I am underweight and safe when I am overweight and the issue I have is trying to get to the middle ground - literally - of around 12 stone.

    fingers crossed.