When you suffer from an eating disorder, it permeates your entire life. Everything, in some way or another, revolves around food and eating (or not eating, as the case may be). For me, it took years of suffering to recognize that I was sick, and then it took years of therapy to recover. Ultimately, it was pregnancy and motherhood that finally left me feeling that I was cured of Anorexia. Now, as I raise the two little girls who helped release me from the prison of disordered eating, I’m determined to not pass along my food issues—I’m not giving my daughters an eating disorder.
A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
My relationship with food is flawed and it probably always will be. I’ll never completely release the emotional associations I have with food and I’ve come to terms with that. And I think most of us have some feelings tied to certain foods. They’re called comfort foods for a reason, you know. Show me a woman who doesn’t reach for either something sweet or something crunchy when stressed. I recognize there’s a reason we associate food with feelings and it’s not all bad.
Food has the power to heal both physically and emotionally. This is a lesson I plan on teaching my girls. When the household is getting a little stuffy-nosed in the winter, I’ll teach them that we incorporate garlic, honey, and mushrooms into our cooking because they work as nature’s immune boosters and antibiotics. When my oldest gets her heart broken for the first time, I’ll teach her the power of a date with mami as she cries into her ice cream sundae.
I have learned to see food for what it is: fuel with extra powers. Most of the time, I eat for fuel but occasionally, I use food for its other properties. By modeling this healthy perspective, my girls will follow suit.
Read Related: How Becoming a Mother Cured My Eating Disorder
A STRONG SENSE OF SELF
My eating disorder came about, in part, due to an inborn and experience-given sense of shame. From my earliest years, I had a tendency to lie and hide perceived imperfections. My mother never set a great example of self-esteem, so I was never really sure what that looked like. I can recall a moment with her at the impressionable age of 13. I was watching her put on her makeup for a performance (she’s a singer) and I thought she looked beautiful. I asked her if she thought she was pretty. She told me that, if she worked at it, she thought she could make herself “interesting looking.” How sad that she never saw her true beauty.
For my daughters, I’m determined to do better. I already see my oldest feeling ashamed of herself for no reason at all, just like I did as a young girl, so I avoid any reprimand that would further reduce her confidence and self-integrity. Along with that, I’m working every day on modeling a healthy sense of self-identity and self-confidence. I take good care of myself, eat healthy food consistently, and have a variety of personal interests and no unhealthy obsessions. I’m setting the example for them: I’m a strong, independent, confident woman in a happy, healthy marriage with a rich and varied personal life. I love myself and I love them, and they know it.
And someday, when my girls ask me if I think I’m beautiful, I’ll reply that I don’t think I’m beautiful at all. In fact, I know I’m gorgeous…because I am, and they are too!