Here are some of the things children are told which contribute to the development of a belief system when it comes to food and food issues. I have said some of these things myself, not realizing what message I was sending. My point in writing this post is not written to criticise well meaning parents but for the reader to take a look at some of the ways our belief system about food was developed in the first place.
~ “Eat everything on your plate and you can have desert” This message indicates that desert is better, desert is a reward, and that desert is somehow special.
~ “If you can’t eat what is on your plate then I guess you are too full for desert” This message encourages us to overeat in order to get the prize, which is desert, which we have already learned is “better, special and the reward”.
~ “Save room for desert” Often only the adults in the room and at the same dinner table are told to save room for desert. How confusing is that to a child? As children we often have to eat the kinds of food and the amounts of food that THEY decide for us to eat, before we get desert. We think to ourselves ~ “I can’t wait till I am an adult. I don’t have to eat my sprouts, asparagus, meat, potatoes, (or whatever it is that you don’t want to eat that day), AND I can have desert whenever I want. I can’t wait to grow up and get away from controlling adults.”
~ “Let’s celebrate ~ why do so many celebrations have to do with food?
~ “You can’t have this (treat) unless you are “good” ~once again food is a reward for behavior and when we are adults we often consider food as a reward or recognition for any achievement.
~ “You have been “good” so here is some money for candy” I am not saying that all of this is wrong, I am just pointing out how we develop our relationship with food. How food becomes a reward and these things translate into a belief system about food. If an abuser has used treats and food this is even worse.
~ Making children eat food that makes them gag or making kids sit at the table until they finish a certain amount of food ~ think about the message you got when that happened. This is about power and control. This makes me feel like someone is saying to me “I don’t care what you like or how you feel, you eat it because I say you eat it.” This is a strange way to control a child and becomes a battle of wills. The parent always wins. Once again I encourage you to look at the message that you adopted into your belief system about food if this happened to you.
~”Because you disobeyed me, you can’t have desert for a week.”
We see that in these last two points that now food has become a punishment. When food becomes both a reward and a punishment we have a bit of a conflicting belief about food.
What about these statements often prefaced by something like “You would be so pretty or you would be more popular if…?
~ “you would be so pretty if you lost (or gained) weight. You would be so happy if you lost (or gained) weight” These statements are loaded with innuendo and insinuation and come with additional info such as “you would be so happy if you cut your hair or grew your hair, if you stopped wearing makeup, or started wearing makeup; if you smiled more” and “You might have a boyfriend or girlfriend if you lost weight” All these statements indicate that you are not acceptable the way that you are. They teach us that we are not loveable unless our bodies, our hair, our clothing and our image, is a certain way! And we don’t even have an understanding of WHAT way. This big lie that we are not acceptable lives way deep down in our subconscious and cause problems that we don’t even begin to be aware of, tearing at our self esteem and destroying confidence.
Please add the things that you have heard or been told that contribute to mixed messages and a faulty belief system about food and food issues.
Exposing Truth ~ one snapshot at a time;