I have two sons. Fabulous sons. Skinny sons. Who, from what I can tell, seem unaffected, unfazed and maybe even mostly oblivious to their mom’s eating issues.
It is probably safe to say that as a yo-yo dieter, I have struggled with my weight off and on for much of my sons’ lives. More so in recent years than when they were little. And there were several years in there when I was just eating “normally” and easily maintaining a “normal” weight. But I have been on and off a diet for a long time now. And I do mean “diet” because it is only in the last year or so that I have become enlightened and shifted to the paradigm of a healthy lifestyle instead.
Honestly, I have no idea what my kids think about me as regards to weight and eating. I have never been obese and they are, after all, boys, so I am not sure they pay very much attention to my physical self. I try to keep pretty low key about my eating, whatever that might be at any point in time. Try to keep it off the boys’ radar. It is my own baggage and I am very conscious of not wanting to make it theirs; not wanting to negatively impact them.
So, what do my boys know? And do they care? I have no idea. I never say anything even remotely like “I’m on a diet” or “I’m trying to lose some weight.” I have said things like “I am not eating pasta right now” when my older son requested it on a visit home from college. And things like “I’m trying to eat healthier.” But we all know that kids can pick up way more than we realize. And I suspect that with my on-again-off-again dieting mentality I have sent a lot of mixed signals for anyone paying attention.
Three incidents stand out in my mind to help illustrate how this plays out in our family.
The first was last winter, when I was eating very healthily and really making progress. We were going to take our oldest out for an early birthday dinner before he headed back to college. As always, the birthday boy got to pick the place. I would have gone anywhere and quietly found something on plan to eat. Dieting on the down-low. But hubby thwarted my plans by saying something to our son about me maybe not wanting to eat at certain restaurants because… well, not sure exactly how he put it but the implication was that I was watching what I was eating in a dieting sort of way. I know this because my son asked me to choose the restaurant because of what his dad had told him. Sweet kid:) I assured him that I was happy to go wherever he wanted. And we did.
Then there were all the times my son came home from college and I baked him his favorite cookies. I had second thoughts about the whole idea of showing love with food and I struggled over not eating any of the cookies (here and here). When I blogged about that, I got some great comments that maybe I should explain to my son about my struggles, that he would understand and not care about not having the cookies. But I did not want my own issues to impact him, either from the emotional aspect or from the “not getting cookie love” aspect. My response to those well intended comments is when this post was born.
Then, not too long ago, my teen and husband were getting ready to pick up some Chipotle for dinner. And I knew it was not the best choice for me so decided to eat leftover soup instead. I had no problem simply telling my teen “no thanks,” that I didn’t want any. He’d think nothing of it, I would guess. But my husband told him “Mom is being good.” Which was not the message I was trying to send. I have enough problems of my own with the whole “good” versus “bad” as it relates to food. I have never gotten into that with my kids and don’t want to start now. Yes, there could be a lot of great discussion going on about eating healthy, but I think that ship sailed years ago when I did so many things wrong to turn my boys into the picky eaters they are today. But amazingly they never overeat. Just eat when they are hungry. Don’t obsess over food. Don’t have issues with food. Or weight. Phew – what a relief.
And I want to qualify here that my husband is very well intentioned in what he has said to the boys about me and eating. I would prefer he had not said those things, but I understand why he did. And I hope he does not mind that I mention that he has also struggled with his weight over the years, although his journey and mine are different in many ways. I share that so you can understand that I am not the only potential influence on my sons with regard to eating or dieting or all that jazz. Ironically, hubby and I have been great role models for exercise but the boys never seem to pick up on that either!
So that’s the scoop. More than you every wanted to know about this yo-yo dieting mom and her boys, who have managed to stay off her crazy roller-coaster ride. Now if I could just get them to eat vegetables!