Life without Anorexia

My motto is
'Dont let the sadness of your past & the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present'

My life at the moment is completely different to how it once was. I spent 5 years sick with anorexia nervosia and depression as well as struggling with self harm and overexercising. I spent 2 years in different treatment centres.
And since 2012 i have been declared healthy from my eating disorder.

I have been blogging for 7 years, and my whole journey is written in my posts. I now represent healthy and happiness. I want to show anyone struggling that it is possible to recover, no matter how hard it may seem.

I now blog about recovery, my life, veganism and positivity!

If you have any questions leave them in the comment section as i am much quicker at answering there, otherwise you can always send an email: lifewithoutanorexia@hotmail.com

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

What eating habits were you taught as a child? - Eating habits i was taught as a child

I thought i would do a little experiment... sort of! As i got asked about what eating habits i was taught as a child and if they might have in some way affected me getting an eating disorder. (Actual comment below!)

The way your parents talk about food has a huge impact - i believe - on your relationship with food when you are older. No, i dont think that parents give their children eating disorders but i think that if parents talk about food or their body in a negative way that can definitely impact the child and maybe be the catalyst to a child developing an eating disorder. I know some parents talk about food as good and bad, food they can and cant eat and talk about their body image and food ina negative way... that in turn is how the child will think about food. But also if a child is taught that they can eat chocolate, burgers and pizza all the time that is what they will learn and believe in and that can affect them negatively in the future and affect their weight negatively.
Its not easy being a parent - i dont know from personal experience (hahah) - but i am guessing its hard anyway. You need to be a role model and teach your child good eating habits and learn them to see food as nutritious and something they need to eat and that certain foods can be eaten and enjoyed but in moderation!

So, how did my parents talk about food/teach me how to eat when i was younger?

I had two different sides/opinions on food when i was younger. My mum... a yoga teacher who was very holistic with her view on food. It was nothing extreme but my sister and i grew up eating alot of whole foods, lots of lentils, vegetables, brown bread etc with our mum and then on Saturdays or Fridays we would have a treat day where we would buy some junk food and watch movies. So it was nothing extreme, it was moderation and a good balance in my opinon. My mum is also a pescetarian so we mostly ate vegetarian and sometimes fish, but as i did like chicken my mum would buy that for me (my siser turned vegetarian when she was around 12/13 i think... or earlier).

My dad on the other side is a big meat eater and eats alot of sandwiches, however he never ate "bad" either. It was just alot of standard irish meals... lots of potatoe, lots of meat, vegetables... irish roast dinners and such and dessert after dinner.

I dont think my parents ever talked about food as good or bad, however i was always told i needed to eat more. I was always the one who got the extra food and last serving as i was underweight/low weight when i was a child and always told to eat more and more.... which when i got older began to annoy me alot as i realised most other kids arent told to eat more, but are infact told to eat less.

I was a very picky eater as a child and if people said things about food i couldnt eat it... there were plenty of times i refused to eat because my sister or someone else would talk about something disgusting while eating or would say things such as your food looks like X or Y. Luckily i have grown out of this now, but when i was child things such as that could easily make me lose my appetite and not want to eat.

When i began with treatment for my eating disorder the doctors were quick to blame my mum for my eating disorder however i think that is silly. She taught me to eat my veggies and to eat wholesome food first and foremost and then chocolate and crisps as a treat and neither of my parents affected my view on food negatively.. instead my eating disorder developed from wanting control.

However i do remember that being told to eat more all the time was very annoying and made me feel different and instead made me refuse to eat the last serving even if i wanted it, just because i was told i had to eat it or that I was the only one who was allowed to take more, i didnt like the special treatment.

I believe that compared to other children i was taught rather good eating habits... many children never learn to eat vegetables or like whole foods, instead they grow up eating lots of processed food and become addicted to salt and sugar at a young age which can be negative in the future. I was taught a good relationship with food and a balance and i thank my parents for that!! Of course, i have my opinons on the food we ate i.e it was ALOT of meat and dairy, but thats what was normal back then.... if i were to have children in the future i would raise them with moderation and balance and first and foremost a vegan/vegetarian diet, but they would of course be allowed to choose whether they wanted to eat meat or dairy or not, as that is a choice they get to make when they are old enough.

Anyway... i would like to know what eating habits YOU were taught when you were younger and do you think they have had a positive or negative impact on your relationship with food.

A little semi experiment to see......


*The real comment asking about this below:

This is not particularly important so please don't worry if you don't have time to answer, but I have been wondering about how "normal" people teach their children normal/healthy eating habits. I think that as a child the eating habits I was taught were, in retrospect, not especially normal, and I have read that many people with eating disorders later on did have a few oddities in the way they were brought up around food. I don't think it "caused" my eating disorder at all, but it has made it harder and more strange to work out what normal or sensible eating patterns are -- if I think back to before the ED, I just realise "other children can't have been taught like that!" and I wonder how they were taught. 
I'm curious to know what other people's experiences were. However, it is not a problem so please don't worry if it's a question too many!



16 comments:

  1. Recently, I havealso been thinking a lot about how my childhood might have affected the eating disorder my teenage years. Personally, I was always quite a picky eater with strange habits such as not eating the skin of the tomato, not eating papers because of their smell etc. On the top of that I was always very petite (I am really short and naturally skinny) and was therefore encouraged to eat more. Which was kind of annoying, ...being told to eat more and treatened "you will not get taller" if you don not eat this piece of meat (i did not like meat anyway, which is the reason i became vegan i guess). My parents never deprived me in junk food and I think I ate quite a lot, because neither of them was overweight or had any weight issues. For example, I had friends in school who always told me how their mothers are on a diet and mine was always in a good shape without even trying. On the whole, my parents told me good eating habits such as not skipping a meal, eating a balanced diet with whole foods etc. But what annoyed me was that I never had the choice to eat what I wanted - I never was into meat and always wanted the vegeterian option in the restaurant, but was never allowed to have it, because according to my parents meat was "a must-have". I guess, this is one of the reasons why i decided to stop eating and restrict myself. Being told to eat more and being told what to eat may cause a rebellion especially in a teenager, I think.

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  2. To be honest, I might have developed some bad eating habits from my dad since he always ate too much and usually binged then purged. I didn't know this when I was young but when I got to know the bad eating habits, I realised that my dad had too many of them. Sadly, my dad struggles with this issue until now I don't know how to help as he always hides it. He eats too much then purges to give him an excuse to eat again.. I hope he gets better someday. My mom was always a good eater. however, my parents taught me to eat lots of fruits and vegetables and stay away from junk food and I think it's impacted me very well and I'm thankful for that. :)

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  3. I grew up eating a mostly wholefood vegetarian diet. My parents both ate
    very little meat and when I was about 7 I decided myself to go vegetarian. I'm also Irish and of course I ate a lot of dairy products growing up as that's how my parents ate. I always had a really healthy relationship with food, I ate when I was hungry and I was never a particularly fussy eater. My mam was constantly in and out of weight watchers , talking about being 'good' and eating less but my dad has always had a perfectly normal relationship with food. I don't blame my mam at all for my anorexia as like you my eating disorder was an attempt at control, however her dieting/negative comments about weight/ obsession with the gym and exercise definitely was not helpful and is still a major trigger for me in my recovery . I do wonder if being vegetarian/vegan (I developed my eating disorder about a year after turning vegan) makes you more susceptible to developing an ed due to increased awareness of ingredients & food labels and also having certain restrictions around food, albeit for ethical reasons.

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  4. Well, I don't really want to blame my parents for my eating disorder, but in my opinion the relationship of my parents with food really isn't a healthy one either. My dad doesn't eat anything the whole day and then eats like 3000kcal in the evening and doesn't ever have enough of something it is all about the quantity rather than quality und he eats lots of sweets and unhealthy fats and my mum always wants to lose weight, but she admits that she binges and never really achieves her goal weight...So unfortunately I don't really know what a normal, healthy diet looks like and it is really frustrating for me to see their unhealthy eating patters, because I am scared that I will eat unhealthy when I let go of anorexia and become overweight eventually...If you have any advice what I could do against that fear, which really holds myself back in recovery I would be thankful:/

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    1. Number one, don't be fearful of it. You must learn to listen to your body's hunger/fullness cues. This may be hard at first, but try to surround yourself with people who maintain a healthy relationship around food and actually listen to their body. Start increasing to gradually work your way up to maintenance level...ideally you want to get to a point where you don't think about the calories at all! https://draxe.com/6-reasons-calorie-counting-crazy/
      The best advice I think that I could offer would be to surround yourself with healthy eaters...there are people who still eat intuitively...so that you can see what a good relationship with food is. Ultimately we eat so that we can sustain ourselves...we don't live to eat. Food should be a pleasure and used on special occasions, but try not to tie negative/positive correlations with the food itself, instead, think of the events and people surrounding it as more meaningful.
      Hoped this helped!

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    2. Thus really helped me a lot...I just have to learn to ignore the unhealthy relationship to eating of my parents and start listening to my body. It is just a bit difficult, because I mostly eat with my family and can't see how other normal people are eating. Well, I will have to find a way, but I have to be optimistic. Thanks for your great reply:)

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    3. You could try following serving suggestions/portions on the packaging of foods, this may help you gauge what an average person would eat or if you follow a meal plan stick with the amounts and weights it suggests until you find your own appetite cues.

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  5. My parents never talked negatively about food, but they gave us waay too much snacks, in my opinion. but it weren't really my parents, but my grandparents who gave us to eat at leadt 8 times a day... I was always a fat kid, but because I didnt move a lot and matured physically too quickly, and that was like a shock for me, because my body was more of an adults, but I wad still a child. And my classmates matured more slowly, and at that time I felt huge and fat. I dont think that my past relationsgip to food had been a trigger, but I can remember quite well, that not only in school but my grandparents told me as well that I was fat, however, they never taught me how to eat healthily.

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  6. My parents raised me as a vegetarian from the age of about six, and I think they did a really good job of teaching me about moderation. However, they put restrictions on foods like chocolate and such, which led me to secretly eat them, gain weight, and then make me cut them out totally (which was the beginning of my anorexia). But I don't blame them at all - they did everything that they could to raise me well and I'm so grateful for it. In the end, I think my personality (anxious, depressed, high-achieving) was the major factor in my developing an eating disorder.

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  7. I suppose my parents taught us kind of average eating habits. We were bought up vegetarian but apart from that it wasn't as healthy as I wish it was. Like when I was a kid a lot of the time I probably only ever got 3-4 portions of fruit and veg and very little protein though that was partly my fault because I used to only like boring plain foods, I eat sooooo much more variety now haha. I still think it's really unhealthy how a lot of days all of their snacks are just biscuits and they don't eat many snacks of nutritional value- though the meals are pretty good and healthy, like I wonder if I'd always been brought up eating healthier I wouldn't have had a health realisation and then got super stressed and took it too far. But then like I say I guess their way of eating is pretty common and my parents and sister are all healthy weights. However my brother when he became an adult quickly became obese, which I think is something that triggered me a lot and something I still struggle with panicking about specially in a situation where we're eating the same thing or I even appear to eat more because I'm so terrified I'll end up obese as well.

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  8. I think close friends eating habits can have just as big an impact on you, especially as a hyper sensitive self analysing teenager. Like it was my 'best friend' who introduced food in a negative view for me. I don't know how much she actually ate but she was one of those who'd constantly talk about not eating like oh I didn't fancy lunch today oh I can only eat one potato or one spoon of pasta because I'm too full. Like she never got underweight like me but yet I never went on and on about stuff like that at all ....

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    1. I know this, someone similar was around me as well. I used to eat a normal amount (for many it might have been seen as lot)but my friend always commented negatively about her body, skipped meals regulary, etc... I remember she onve told me that I ate a lot, and that really triggered me at the time

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  9. It's interesting to look back and think about the influences my parents had on my eating habits. My mom packed my lunch everyday up until grade 11. It was always filled with fresh fruits, veggies, maybe some crackers and cheese, maybe leftovers from dinner...she put so much emphasis on buying fresh produce which was really important and definitely benefited everyone. But now, her eating behaviours definitely trigger me because she can go all day without eating because she 'forgets' and then eats a ton of chocolate or junk at night, which is really not a healthy habit. I'm trying to get her to eat breakfast more regularly.
    My dad likes to think he ate healthy, but between drinking alcohol on a daily basis and laying on his bed eating a huge bag of chips in one evening....he totally did not have a positive influence on me. He may be a good cook, but what he makes isn't healthy at all.
    Did this have an impact on my ED? Possibly. I didn't attribute it to this originally, but their behaviours definitely influence me now.

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  10. Someone once told me something which I will never forget because I think it's so accurate- 'babies are pretty much the only ones with a healthy relationship with food'. I think what one defines as healthy nowadays can vary a lot. For some it might be only eating organic and free range, for others it's everything in moderation and then there are those who believe a healthy relationship is just eating when you feel like it.

    Yes, the way my parents talked about food did get me thinking more about it as I grew up but they were definitely in no way responsible for my ED. My mom has always struggled with her weight and is rather short. My dad, however, is extremely tall and can eat whatever he wants and it doesn't touch sides on him. So from my moms end she was always fearful I would have her genetics so she insisted on healthier foods although 'junk' food was always available and we were allowed to have it as children but in moderation. I remember her asking me if I really needed a second muffin or if I just wanted it.

    But more than parents and friends, I would say the society we grow up in plays a big role in determining our relationship with food. For example, I've grown up in South Africa where it's always hot and everyone wears shorts or crop tops and we're on the beach a lot. Image is very important there. Almost everyone is very athletic too so being toned is considered 'ideal'. Now I'm studying in Edinburgh and with the cold climate, people eat a lot of 'comfort' food here like baked potatoes and fried foods. I much prefer eating fresh foods but with the cold weather a girl needs a curry! Also people wear more layers of clothing so they're less body conscious. It's definitely a strange thing to notice. Personally I think both lifestyles are too extreme. But funny how the climates and society's mentality plays such a huge role.

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  11. I grew up with what I call "traditional home cooking" - all meals were made from scratch, things like casseroles, stews and roasts, plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. My mum never brought convienience foods and I remember only ever having things like crisps or fizzy drinks in the house at Christmas. Of course if I wanted them at other times I would buy them out of my pocket money. The same with having sweets, my mum never used to buy them for us - she always used to tell us to have an apple instead! Sundays was the traditional roast dinner and the only day we ate dessert, then it would be things like apple crumble/fruit pies or tinned fruit and custard. Only very occasionaly did we have ice cream. So it was very much a "meat and two veg" scenario with potato, either mashed or boiled making the staple part of every meal. We never had things like pasta or curries and I was well into my teens before I tasted a cheesesburger or pizza! I guess my mum brought us up with the kind of food she herself was brought up on - back in her childhood there must have been little option but for food to be home cooked so I believe she was just doing what her own mother did. My mum never had any weight issues that I was aware of and the general attitude towards food was to eat whatever she cooked - she never used to offer an alternative if we didn't like something so there was none of the cooking several different meals like parents often do today. Did it influence my ED? No I don`t think so. What it did do was teach me how to put a meal together, how to cook and how to shop. I prefer to cook meals from scratch myself but I also use convienience foods from time to time, and we eat a wider variety of foods than the "meat and two veg" of my childhood. My ED, I believe came about due to other factors in my life, not my mothers attitude towards food or the habits we were taught as children.

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  12. Hi Izzy - just wanted to say that I love this photo of you and your family - it looks so natural and you were obviously having fun :) The love and warmth shines through.

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