Food Blues as a Teenager
I remember distinctly being a young teen (and probably even younger) and my dad would hover over me about everything I ate. It would fill me with part anger at him and part embarrassment towards myself. I couldn’t stop eating and I definitely wanted to stop.
I was overweight probably from about age 8 until about 17 when I began starving myself. Something though that stands out so much from those years (even more so than the teasing in school) was my dad’s obvious frustration with me. He couldn’t stand how badly I ate and of course how much I ate as well.
If he saw me eating a bowl of cereal late at night he’d remark “isn’t it a little late to be eating that?” or if I enjoyed the rolls before a meal at a restaurant he’d say “make sure to save room for your meal.” Looking back while it still stings quite a bit I can’t help but wonder if he was actually trying to help me, not hurt me.
I remember watching an episode of Oprah where they were condemning a father who would berate his overweight daughter on what she ate but didn’t do the same with his thin daughters. The daughter cried at how much it hurt her but the father stood his ground that he was trying to help her. It occurred to me that maybe my father was really worried for me, as he probably should have been.
Is it possible to help a kid with what they are eating without hurting their feelings? If they are already overweight and they already feel bad you probably need to tread lightly. Would it be better just to change how they see food and maybe stop keeping so much cereal in the house? Teach them about food, don’t just talk down to them in the middle of a meal.
Looking back I wish my parents could have done more for me and I hope if I were ever in the position of parenting a young girl that I could help her. I think teenagers need empathy and understanding. Just telling a young girl she shouldn’t eat that doesn’t help anything or pointing out she’s fat only ends up being damaging. It’s about teaching them about food and showing them how to take the best care of themselves as possible.