Removing Shame from Eating (Practices of Eating)

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Growing up we didn't have many sweets in our house. No sugary cereals, gallons of ice cream or baked cookies. I remember feeling a little deprived, because when confronted with sweets and baked goods, my turn off switch was no where to be found.

When the occasional gallon of ice cream found residence in our freezer, I found myself finishing off a pint of it in record time.

In my pre-pubescent years (fifth grade did not serve me well), I gained weight and had some chub on me. I became self-conscious when the summer before my fifth grade year my grandmother would call out in front of my cousins & brothers, "well, maybe if you got off your fat ass..." Only to be called names like, "fat," "heifer," & have my grandpa suggest I walk with him while the others rode so, "we could get that extra weight off."

By the time middle school began, I had more shame about my body, eating till I was full when in groups didn't always happen. Especially, if boys were in the group. I thanked God it wasn't co-Ed PE.

My weight would flucuate, and I longed for a way to become thin without starving myself. Because I knew I could never become bulimic, I hated puking when sick. And withholding completely from eating could only last overnight. Truth is, I loved food.

When you grow up in Mexican culture & traditions, you cannot escape food. It's like telling a three year old to whisper while the baby is sleeping. What happens? The baby always gets woken.

It wasn't until 2010 when I joined my gym that I found myself to be more than a label of fat and out of shape. I showed myself that I do have enough willpower to cut out all sugars, dairy, legumes, and grains for 30 days. I also began to view eating differently. I didn't feel guilty or shame about saying I wanted seconds or even thirds on a meal. It was almost as if the person I had always been arose from the ashes.

Ever since V was a nursling, she would let out groans of satisfaction to eat. Solids introduced and the drawn out, "mmmmm's" emerged. I joked, "Maybe she'll be a food critic," which is very possible considering at age four she yelled across the gym BBQ, "Oh Mama! They have roasted Brussels sprouts!"

But, what has struck me through it all is how it was only after I lost weight that I felt less shame in eating to satiation. Would the same be true if I hadn't? I realized three things

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1. It should never matter how big one is to determine when they should or shouldn't stop eating.
2. Educating myself & others to better nutrition & eating habits (ie nutrient-dense foods) is critical.
3. Shame & food should not share the same breath.

I have been given three girls to nurture & care for in this short life. In this time, I want our table to be rich in food, eating, manners, conversation & laughter to be focal points for them, not shame & secrets.

How have you experienced shame at the table, in eating & food?

You're reading the 'Practices of Eating' series.  Take part and join the conversation below. 

You're reading the 'Practices of Eating' series.  Take part and join the conversation below.