As I have posted before, it occurred to me how much I made food the focus of just about everything-- staying home to watch movies (let's order pizza and make popcorn!) to holidays (Ooh, we'll make all the traditional foods with a couple new recipes!) to any activity such as going to the park (picnic!) or shopping with a friend (let's stop for coffee and scones!) to taking the kids bowling (you gotta have cheese fries and cherry Pepsi!).
So we went out or did things a few times this week where, of course, all of the so-what-great-dining-experience-shall-accompany-this-particular-activity thoughts began to arise.
And I said to myself, "you know what? We'll just eat breakfast/lunch before we go, and get home for the next meal. We don't need food. Just bring some bottled water. Everyone is well fed enough. We don't need to turn the event into a food fest." And if it was an all day thing, we brought cheese sticks or hard boiled eggs or light popcorn as a snack just to get through.
I tried to make the activities about actually what we were doing, about being there and having fun, not about what we would eat at the time. I am trying to disassociate food and fun as two separate things that do not necessarily always have to go hand-in-hand, but I realized that the kids-- it broke my heart-- kept bringing it up, and whined about it.
And I realize now that I have ingrained this bad habit into my kids... in my mind, food equalled fun, happy, comfort, reward, and all things good-- so when I planned anything with them, from snacks during the day to outings to holidays to chores, I made food the focal point of the for all of us experience. And now that I'm leaving it out, I realize the kids are wondering, "hey, where's the food? There's supposed to be food when we do things!"
And this has now got me feeling incredibly guilty and realizing that I really need to break these habits in them while they are still young and a healthy weight.
And at the same time, I want them to keep that healthy weight and enjoy food without being paranoid about it. I want them to be one of those people that can throw away half an ice cream cone because they are not hungry anymore. One of those people who can appreciate a good meal or snack and enjoy food, but not obsess over it.
And my husband, bless his heart, is out there with his own problems... he's just angry at the world that he can't eat what he wants. In his mind, it's just not fair and he doesn't even think of self-regulation- because if he doesn't know it's bad for him, he can eat it, so he doesn't want to ask and he doesn't want to know-- he just wants to eat what he sees and then, later, shrug and say, "well, I didn't know it was bad for me." So when we do things together or with the kids now, While I am beginning to see food as the evil enemy seductress who I must defeat, he sees himself and food as Romeo and Juliet-- the star-crossed lovers who are being kept apart by a cruel world. So while I am going and thinking "I will not think about food, I will not give into it" when we do things, he's sitting there thinking, "I miss you, I love you, I wish you could be with me..." so he's not in the greatest mood sometimes.
I realize in some ways, because of his attitude, it's harder on him, because eating what he wants when he wants it is really what he wants the most deep down inside, not weight loss. He's actually angry at the weight loss necessity because it's keeping him away from his dearest love. But I've reminded him that for me, food-- or at least, eating for anything other than sustinence- is the enemy, and that the kids are going to have the same problem we have if they grow up making food their first and dearest love, so he's trying, but I know it's just going against what he feels inside.
I wondere sometimes if there will ever be an end to this... it seems in some way or another food is just always a problem-- wanting to much, not wanting to want it, always thinking about it or always trying not to think about it. Will there EVER come a time in my life when food is just-- "there?" Just "there" like socks and underarm deoderant and air conditioner filters-- just things, ready to be grabbed when you need it to serve it's purpose and that's the end of it-- concern over it doesn't feel like it dominates your life?
And so the meditation of the day is that food is just sustenance, not joy or happiness or togetherness or reward or comfort or consolation or holidays or anything else but sustenance.
And I am thinking that for our next holiday-- Summer Solstice-- maybe *not* cooking. We usually have a big bbq cookout for it, sometimes at the beach or at least at the pool. Is it wrong to deprive the kids of the normal, traditional holiday food experience or is it better to help get it through all the thick skulls that run through this family that we don't need to raise food to the pinnacle of the experience?