Blame the parents….!!

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My Mum was an excellent cook, which was just as well as she and my father ran a seaside hotel which boasted ‘all home-cooked meals’. So we didn’t just have a Sunday joint, but joints every day of the week! Turkey and fresh salmon all on one day wasn’t bad for the early 1950s when we still had chocolate rationing and dripping on bread was, in many a struggling household, thought of as a tasty meal. Whilst I can’t therefore blame my parents for all the bad food habits I developed in adulthood, I do trace the roots of some of my bad habits to my early childhood experiences…

 
The term ‘fast food’ hadn’t yet been invented, but I had my own version…… In order to both serve on tables and have my own dinner, I learnt that I could serve 30 guests, rush back to the kitchen to eat my own dinner and then emerge in the dining room just as those I served first were clearing their plates. And the long term effect of this? I still eat far too quickly for my own good and have had to really learn to savour the taste of food as well as the sensation of a full stomach.

 
Which brings me to another point – did I ever learn the difference between being ‘satisfied’ and being absolutely stuffed full? In common with many post war baby-boomers, I was taught early on the virtues of ‘clearing the plate’ which always brought high praise. ‘Come on, eat up like a good girl’ was an oft-repeated mantra and one which I generally responded to without question. (That is unless it involved sprouts or cabbage -ugh!) Of course, this caused me to eat far too much at times, especially when, towards the end of a holiday week, guests were beginning to rebel against the onslaught of food and requesting smaller portions. Food couldn’t easily be kept back then, so family and employees were roped in to polish it all off. Three eggs, four rashers of bacon, beans, tomato and several rounds of bendy toast and marmalade …a wonderful breakfast! (or so I thought back then). Old habits die hard. These days I know how to eat healthily but controlling portion size is something I still need to make a conscious effort to do. It all stems from my childhood.

 
And finally, on this personal reminisce, I cannot believe how my parents let me get away with this…. Straight in from school (starving of course) and poking around in the fridge I would come across a basin full of cold boiled potatoes, just the job for preparing my favourite sandwich snack: white steamed bread, smothered in best butter and topped with cold potatoes mashed up with salad cream. Whoever heard of counting calories?! Not my family, that’s for sure!

 
Anyway, you’ve got the picture, and hopefully gained some insight about how our childhood eating habits can have a long-term effect. I battled obesity for years and by the grace of God have finally learnt to work in harmony with my body’s needs and have got my weight under control. To find out more, please read my book ‘How to Stop Dieting and Start Living’ if you have not already done so.

 
One thing I am really thankful for in my childhood is that my parents never focussed on body image and taught me positive acceptance of my less-than-perfect physique. My thighs were always on the large side (Dad was a rugby full back!) but instead I was praised for having a ‘bonny pair of legs’. I used them to my advantage by becoming a strong swimmer and never sought to hide them as I took part in modern stage dancing – even though I must have resembled the Morecombe and Wise take on the Tiller girls! When I hear of young girls today afraid of living out their childhood fantasies of attaining to the Royal Ballet because they consider themselves too fat to be seen in a leotard, it saddens me.

 
So when it comes to nutritional knowledge our parents may have had a lot less enlightenment than we have today, but at least they fed us on real food. The challenge for parents today is to model not only sound eating habits but also body acceptance. Please read the accompanying articles on children’s nutrition and addressing weight problems with children so learn more.

 
If after reading this you have your own childhood take to tell, please respond in the comment box below. We would love to hear from you.

Comments

  1. Chris Vickery on November 2, 2014 at 5:28 pm said:

    I’m the second of of 4 girls, we were all born in the 1940s. My parents didn’t have much money so food was basic. Stews in the winter, bread and jam for breakfast and tea. I loved bread and dripping! My mother was short and very overweight and I am physically the most like her (my sisters are all taller than I am) Because of some health problems in my early teens I was given sweets and chocolate, which was the start of my weight gain.

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