I cringe when I hear other parents complain about their “little fatties” and how their children will just “gobble everything up”.
Lucky you, I think. I hope they retain that same reckless enjoyment when it comes to food forever.
As for my three-year-old… well, we like to joke that she has the diet of a teenage boy: milk, chips, chocolate and ice-cream. Only hers is a slightly more refined palette (or so I tell myself) as she prefers dark chocolate to milk and green-tea ice-cream to vanilla – a tiny connoisseur of the bittersweet things in life. So sophisticated (and, let’s face it, weird). But who cares. I deprive her nothing.
I want her to eat everything.
ALL. THE. THINGS.
Every piece of chocolate.
Every scoop of ice-cream.
That is because deep down I want to squash any stray tendril of my eating disorder that may have implanted itself in her psyche.
I want her to feel a freedom and an openness with food. I want her to navigate her relationship through an intuitive soliloquy that runs on desire rather than deprivation.
I want for her what I know I will never have.
The word fat is banned from my house and so are scales. Talking about diets it also off-limits, as is critiquing your body – nothing is “too big” or “gross”.
I make time to stand in front of the mirror with my daughter and rub my stomach while repeating how “beautiful” my belly is. She then follows suit and rubs her tiny tummy smiling back at me saying “bootiful”.
There is something viciously asymptomatic about the origins of eating disorders. Even sufferers are usually unaware they have fallen into that darkened well until it’s too late. I worry that no matter how hard I try to make our home a safe place for body-image, the world will not be quite so kind. Who am I kidding, I know it won’t be.
If I had one wish, it would be to turn the dial down on the discourse. All of it. Even the chatter around the obesity epidemic. For us to just stop talking about food and about our relationship towards it for one earth shattering moment.
Instead, to let ourselves enjoy what we want. To give ourselves the confidence to relinquish control and let ourselves be guided by our subconscious. Even just for a moment. How freeing that would be.