Thursday, April 23, 2009

Food and me: a complicated relationship

I recently read an article which claimed eating disorders are affecting children at an increasingly young age - even a five year old kids are apparently not immune. Early Onset Eating Disorder (EOED) is commonly linked to teenage girls was now becoming increasingly prevalent in Australian girls, and boys, aged 10 to 12 and even younger. An incredibly sad and worrying read, it caused me to reflect on my somewhat complicated relationship with food.

You may have noticed that I'm rather fond of my it, eating it, looking at pictures of it. Unfortunately, this devotion has led to my body being somewhat than what I consider ideal. It's as if all the things I shouldn't eat migrate and live on my thighs and arse so that they can give me a good talking to every time I look in the mirror.

At this point in my life I'm ok with being a little bit overweight. Yes, I'd like to lose five or eight kilos but it's not something that keeps me awake at night...but that wasn't always the case.

I was one of those lean, no-hipped kids who spent their entire life running around at 100kmh and had no time to put on weight. I actually have a vivid memory of a shop assistant saying to me, when I was around eight years' old, that all the food I ate would catch up with me one day. Damn her for being right.

At about 16, the amount of exercise I did dramatically decreased and the weight started to creep on. By the time I went to university, thanks to dedicated pubbing, I'd probably put on five the end of my first year, that had increased to 11. Surrounded by gorgeous, thin friends, my self esteem plummeted.

During that first year I started throwing up when I'd eaten too much. That soon became the norm after EVERY meal. When that seemed to be keeping my weight stable, I started taking laxatives as first, just a few, but eventually a small handful at a time. For about three years this was my shameful secret.

I eventually clawed my way out from the clutches of wasn't easy and it wasn't without relapses. But even though I am probably weigh much the same today as I was at my heaviest university weight, I'm ok with it.

To me, the fact that I CAN eat that almond croissant without thinking of the calorie content or enjoy duck confit without surreptitiously disappearing to the Ladies' Room immediately after means that my mind is in good shape (even if my butt isn't).


Bells said...

it's been many years since I thought about it much or even identified with it but that was me. I'm not sure I've ever really admitted it to myself to the degree you have. I guess that means I'm better though, because like you, I don't think that way anymore.

I'd like to be thinner but I'm not unhealthy about it.

The way little girls are affected, and boys too now, is just so damn scary.

numberchick said...

firstly, well done for getting through that time in your life and surviving. Also thank you for sharing this - it's very brave of you to share something so personal.

I've realised recently that my kids don't need a slim mother, they just need a mother. A healthy role model would be great but what's the point of working full time and then going to the gym if I hardly ever get to see my kids.

Angela said...

Yes, well done for being brave and putting it out there.
I'm sure your little ones appreciate your healthy mind much more than your butt.
And I'm sure they'd rather make and eat cupcakes with you than be in the creche at the gym.

shon said...

Having two girls soon to be 8 and 10 I can already see how people's ridiculous comments can affect a child. My very tall and skinny 10 year old has already been teased at school by horrible little girls about how thin she is, causing great sadness! So it actually works both ways. And my stunning but slightly (and I mean slightly) rounder 8 year old is constantly compared to her 'skinny' sister - until of course those people receive a dressing down they ain't gonna forget in a hurry. What right do people have to comment on a little girls size! I am very straight with my girls - they see the images on tele and mags of emancipated celebrities and we discuss how they must be so sad inside and how its not just their bodies starving but their souls as well. I also showed my 10 year old pictures of her dad at that age - looking just like her - and how everyone now would love to have his long legs and great waist. And sweetheart the most important thing now is what you do with your girls and you are such a wonderful mum and they cook and eat with you and just like me you'll cart them to dancing and sport and they will grow up with lots of self esteem because their mum (who is still one of the most beautiful women I know inside and out) and dad love them unconditionally!

Tara said...

Thank you for sharing your story! I too suffered from bulimia in my university years and it was a long hard slog to get myself back from that dark place.

I grew up with a mother on a diet, unhappy about her weight, and to this day I don't think she realises how much this has affected me.

I hope we can all be strong enough to pass good, positive images on to our children...

...Even if occasionally we are scoffing a packet of chocolate biscuits behind closed dorrs!

numberchick said...

oh shon, what a beautiful friend you are!

bugmum said...

I can attest to that...I'm a bit teary after that...xox

Iris said...

Holy cannoli, I'm so impressed that you've shared this on your blog! Thankyou :-) It's a tough one to say out loud, let alone make public.

Shon, I was tall and skinny in high school and got teased for it like your daughter! Kids will find anything.. And yet I still ended up with bulimia.

Over it now and am able to enjoy what I eat (almond croissants, hello!). And working as an artist's model for the last few years and having a baby girl 3 months ago have been wonderfully liberating!