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How Unconscious Messages from Childhood Can Affect You

By michelle_may_md on Sep 08, 2011 10:00 AM in Tips & Updates

By Michelle May, M.D.

Seven Things Parents Say That Can Contribute to Eating and Weight Problems in the Future

As people who have struggled with food or weight, we vow to raise children who are healthy and free of these challenges. In addition to setting a great example and providing a balanced diet and plenty of opportunities for enjoyable activity, we need to carefully choose the messages we send about eating.

It’s also important to consider how our unconscious messages from childhood may be helping or hurting our own efforts to be healthy. Awareness of those long forgotten messages allow us to change the way we self-parent.

Raise adults, not children

Keep in mind that we are raising adults, not children. Our goals are to provide them with skills and age-appropriate responsibility for managing their lives without our constant vigilance. One key life skill is the ability to navigate our food abundant environment while maintaining optimal health.

Here are seven things that well-meaning parents commonly say that may have unintended consequences. Each statement is followed by some ideas about what you could say to your children (and yourself) instead:

1.  Clean your plate; there are starving children in ______ (third world country).

This outdated message teaches children scarcity eating behaviors in an abundant food environment.

What you could say instead: It’s important not to be wasteful so please only take as much as you think you need. Or, If you're full, we can save the rest for later.

2.  You have to eat all your vegetables or there will be no dessert.

Kids are smart. When you bribe them for eating certain foods, they quickly realize those foods must be yucky and that dessert is the reward. They also learn to hold out until a reward is offered. Do you think of certain foods as special? How does that affect your choices?

What you could say instead:  I love all kinds of different foods—some that make me healthy and strong and some that are just for fun. What kinds of foods do you like? Or, Enjoy your dinner. We'll be having dessert in a couple of hours.

3.  Eat all your dinner or you don't get dessert.

This variation on the threat above translates to “You must overeat so I will reward you by giving you more to eat!” Children naturally love sweet foods so they can learn to override their fullness signals. As adults, we may be tempted to order an 800 calorie salad to justify ordering an 800 calorie piece of cheesecake.

What you could say instead:  Save room for dessert tonight! Or, Do you want to share?

4.  You are such a good eater!

Children want nothing more than to please their parents. While mealtime should be a pleasant time to connect with your children, eating should remain intrinsically driven to meet the child's fuel needs, NOT to earn your praise.

What you could say instead:  You must have been really hungry today! Or, I love spending time with you while we have dinner.

5.  You are such a picky eater!

All children (and adults) have some foods they just don't like. Some children are highly taste and/or texture sensitive but most will outgrow it. Picky eating becomes an entrenched behavior when we berate, beg, bribe—or worse, feed kids only what they say they'll eat.

What you could say instead:  I know you didn't like it last time; tell me what you think about it today after you have one polite bite. Or, Did you know your taste buds grow up just like you do? I wonder if you like this big kid food yet?

6.  I was so bad at lunch today! Now I have to spend an extra hour on the treadmill.

Children are born to move. They naturally love exploring their environment, challenging themselves, and playing actively. Unfortunately, the messages they get from adults teaches them that exercise is punishment for eating.

What you could say instead:  I ate more than I needed and now I feel too full and uncomfortable. I think a walk would help me feel better. Want to join me? Or, Anybody for a bike ride?!

7.  I am so fat! (Or, I can't believe ________ has let herself go!)

Kids learn from us even when we think they aren't listening. Statements like this teach kids that it's OK to put yourself and others down, and judge people for their weight or other physical attributes. Perhaps they secretly wonder what you really think about them.

What you could say instead:  I'm not perfect but I do my best to make healthy choices.

Whatever else you say, remember to say often…I love you just the way you are!

Your thoughts...

What messages did you learn as a child that affect your eating today?

Michelle May, M.D. is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. Download chapter one free.  Dr. May is also the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Workshops and Facilitator Training Program that helps individuals learn to break free from mindless and emotional eating to live a more vibrant, healthy life.


I learned that eating was a way to get the love of my mum, then when as a teenager I didn't look good, my mum put pressure on me to loose weight and my way of rebelion was of course eating on the hidding. Then food was always a way of being together, so to feel part, I ate. Apart from that I love food, so my main problem has always been potion control. My mum prepared excellent food, nutriotionally balanced, so it wasn't as if she malnourished my brother or me, rather she sometimes used food to control. As adult I had to re learn my relation with food and struggle from time to time to keep the quantity right. Of course I forget quality sometimes!!! A day lived without chocolate is not worth living!!!! The secret is moderation, probably the most difficult thing, even exercising everyday, healthily, with variety... food is such a nice thing...

By the way, at present I'm only 4 Kilos (about 8 pounds) away from my "ideal weight", the one that allows me to wear a really tight dress!

Thanks CC

shouldnt the title be subconscious not unconscious?

Great stuff!!!!!!!!

Two wars in Europe, seven children, post war food rationing.  I grew up in England. My mother showed her love through food, it is hard to put your arms around seven kids and we all grew up overweight and I was taunted by it as a child at school with names like fatty and big pig.   We used to have white bread and dripping (the fat left in the pan after chicken or lamb had been cooked) a lot of potatoes, especially french fries, jelly and margarine.  And imagine, white bread with margarine and sugar!  foods that were just not healthy along with a small amount of vegetables and hardly ever any fruit.   I always heard about the starving in India, eat what is on your plate, etc. etc.  It was hard to change those habits and thoughts, but not impossible.  My battle to change those messages and my eating habits has been a life long endeavor.  I am currently over my goal by four pounds, I lost 20 pounds since March, That will put me back where I was when I was 30 When I went from 200 pounds to 150 (I am now 64).  Awareness, education and knowledge have been the keys to keeping things relatively under control.  I know I will never win the war against the tendency to over eat the wrong foods and put on weight, but have and will continue to win the battles that change my relationship to food and turn the volume down on my childhood tapes.

Clean your plate! I got this a lot. If I didn't finish what they gave me, I lost. I still don't easily leave food on my plate, but I'm getting better.

Neither did we have such healthy food either; no wonder I was overweight as a child. I didn't have a clue to what was bad for me, just knew that chocolate was bad.

Though; when I look back, they didn't stay slim themselves either. I've educated myself about nutrition and how the body actually works, but not been able to help them out by sharing my knowledge. They keep thinking there's some magical reason they're overweight.

I think you mean sub-conscience, unconscience means you are passed out and unresponsive to stimuli.

My parents did almost all these things, and constantly used food as a reward. I still hate leaving food on my plate so I simply do not serve myself any more or less than makes the amout of calories I should have.

As a kid I'd never heard anything about calories in<calories out = weight loss. They really should teach more of the science behind fitness in schools, especially with this 'obesity epidemic' going on.

When growing up I had no problem eating my vegetables. They tasted like meat. My dad grew up on a farm in the rural south. His favorite vegetables were green beans cooked with ham hocks; cabbage cooked with corn beef; and collard greens cooked in water, vinegar, and lard; stuff that would cause a vegetarian to gag. It has only been in the past few years that I have been able to enjoy steaming my vegetables with a little water. It is definitely an acquired taste. The stuff my parents would cook made“Happy Meals” seem healthy! :-)

Growing up I never remembering hearing the words "diet" or "fat" in my house. If we didn't want something we had to get a "no thank you serving" to make sure we still didn't like it. Often we were told we couldn't get dessert if we didn't finish out vegetables, but that was usually the only requirement... tot his day I have pretty good eating habits and I definitely thank my Mom for that! Love her!

Thank goodness my parents never pulled any of this!  We only rarely had desserts, anyway, so there were no bribes.  The rules were only that we had to at least try everything, and that if we hated everything else, we had to at least eat some vegetables and drink our milk.  Nobody ever talked about diets or weight (my mother was overweight, but if she worried about it, she never said anything in front of us).  I think this all spared me a lot of trouble as an adult.

Another "medical" article full of logic flaws, lack of contextual clarification, and general assumptions.  I don't disagree with the general message, but these specifics are not based on research.  Congratulations on getting your work of possible fiction published yet again, Michelle.  Some parents are getting absolutely paranoid about everything they say to their children thanks to garbage like this.  In addition, an adult mind is quite capable of overriding learned behaviour, once cognizant of it.

For those of you with children or grandchildren in school, consider taking time to see if many of these practices are still in place in your child's preschool/nursery or elementary/primary school.  I do consultant work in schools and often see unhealthy food practices.  Examples include:

-Toddlers and preschoolers given a stamp or sticker for making a "Happy Plate" (eating all of the food on their plates).

-Dessert withheld from preschoolers until they eat all of their food and drink all of their milk, or dessert being used as a reward for taking ___ number of bites of everything else on the plate.

-Children not allowed to talk at mealtimes (must sit silently) until all food is eaten.  This encourages children to eat very quickly in order to have some social time.

-Plates taken from young children who are still hungry and food thrown away as a punishment for being loud or disruptive, crying, or spilling.  This sometimes leads to rushed eating, food hoarding behaviors, and even eating from the floor or trash can from very young children who do not understand why their food was taken and are unsure how to have their hunger needs met.

-Elementary school children rewarded with candy for test scores or good behavior.

-Children of all ages rewarded with pizza parties, ice cream parties, popcorn parties, and so on.  This may be for meeting class goals, selling enough of something for a fundraiser, collecting the most donations for charity, etc.  While treat foods are fine once in awhile, connecting doing a "good job" with a junk food "reward" is risky.

Even when we're careful at home, some of these subconscious messages may be broadcasted "loud and clear" at school. Parents and grandparents might advocate for a better way, and educate teachers about other options.  For example, the line in this article about "taste buds growing" can be a strong motivator for a finicky preschooler.  Or, active rewards - such as an extra recess, a walking field trip, or a party at the skating rink or swimming pool - could be used in place of food parties.


unĚconĚscious - adjective 1.álacking awareness, sensation, or cognition 2.ánot perceived at the level of awareness 3.ádone without intent - noun 4.áthe part of the mind rarely accessible to awareness but influencing behavior

My big message from my mom was how fat she was and how she envied my thinness.

Same here, ellelove!

How often did we hear, "You're so lucky to be thin" and "You can eat whatever you want".  Turns out, that last bit wasn't so true after all!

I'm a member of the clean plate club.  I still can't leave food on it even if I'm full.  I recognized this is an unhealthy way of life and as such will not subject my kids to that.  If they say they're full and there's still food on their plate, it's okay.  I don't want them to get into that compulsion of having to clean their plate. 

Many of these types of behavior were present in my upbringing and not just at home.  I have observed these behaviors in action over the course of many years and have often wondered at the reasoning behind them.  I am certain that some of them have produced issues for myself with issues of weight, worthiness, reward/punishment attitudes with subsequent rebellious behavior.  Nothing quite like having a fight with myself over something that I do or do not want to do!  Has taken many years to gain acceptance of my "inner child" and mesh the child me with the adult me.  Of course, not all of the issues stem from food issues.

I think I heard some variation of all of these at one time or another (except the "I'm fat" as my mom was never overweight. I was very heavy in high school and 1st year of college but learned to enjoy healthier eating and exercising.

As for the clean your plate - I've made two commitments to my own eating habits - 1) Use a smaller plate! I use a luncheon sized plate at work and usually at home - so I eat what is on my plate but it is usually the right amount. 2) Always use a plate! I know this sounds silly, but I find if I take the time to put my lunch/dinner on a plate, make it look yummy - I enjoy my food more and take my time to eat healthy and not over eat. Trying to teach my kids the healthy way too - challenging at times!

My response to "There are starving children in ..." was always, "Well, give this to them, then!"

I am also a member of the clean plate club, my way around it (I don't have the problem in restaurants for some reason) is to use a smaller plate and weigh my food so I have the correct sized portion. I remember,when I first started the lifestyle changes that are enabling me to lose pounds, being shocked at how small the portions were in comparison to the amounts I had actually been eating. I grew up in a household where we were poor, and remember my mother not eating at least once a week when we had very little food left and no money for new provisions. Another thing I also grew up with, due to the lack of cash, was the concept that some foods were forbidden, they were for only for my father because he went to work to earn money for us all. Just the way it was, I'm sure part of the reason I first started putting on weight when I left home and earned my own money was 'rebelling', ie subconsciously thinking I can eat exactly what I want now. Plus once I became more successful and more funds were available it was possibly more a case of 'I'd best eat all I can now, in case there's no money for food in the future'. At least these days I'm aware of these traits I can consciously choose to make other decisions. And no I don't blame my parents at all, times were hard (as they are for a lot of people these days) and they did their best.

Since today we are the third world country - I think we can look down the street to see someone who may need our own help.  Many things were said when I was a child.  When I was a child I ate like a child, etc. etc.  Now I am 70 years old and I still can not blame my parents because I over endulged myself.  I only need to find new ways to live my life style to help me learn how to avoid too much stress, and how to work it out of my own system.  Ask myself if I really like the food I am preparing and eating.  And be committed to do this for myself (nearly) every day, as a life style change for the rest of my life.  The alternatives that I also know of from what I have seen in others is enough for me to keep on the right track to success.:)  You can too, your parents didn't know better or they never would have said what they did.  Take on your own responsibility now and make yourself happy for being able to do it.:)  Thank you for all you do and how motivating you are for each other:)  aea - (and for me)

Original Post by: mfa

I learned that eating was a way to get the love of my mum, then when as a teenager I didn't look good, my mum put pressure on me to loose weight and my way of rebelion was of course eating on the hidding. Then food was always a way of being together, so to feel part, I ate. Apart from that I love food, so my main problem has always been potion control. My mum prepared excellent food, nutriotionally balanced, so it wasn't as if she malnourished my brother or me, rather she sometimes used food to control. As adult I had to re learn my relation with food and struggle from time to time to keep the quantity right. Of course I forget quality sometimes!!! A day lived without chocolate is not worth living!!!! The secret is moderation, probably the most difficult thing, even exercising everyday, healthily, with variety... food is such a nice thing...

By the way, at present I'm only 4 Kilos (about 8 pounds) away from my "ideal weight", the one that allows me to wear a really tight dress!

Thanks CC

Good job! You are almost there!

I understand what you mean by « relearning my relation with food ». For me, it is about having some kind of a void to fill that I used to fill up with cigaret smoking and a little drinking. Once I got pregnant, all of that had to stay in the past. Now that the kids are 18 months and that I feel bad to be overweight, I had to learn to stop the emotional eating and now I am struggling with not smoking again. In my head it seems to be «or I eat and stay bigger, or I smoke again and lose the weight». I am stronger than that but I am having a bad week!


Comment Removed

This is a great article.  I think my parents said everyone of these when I was a kid. But it is great to have some alternatives to say - even if only to myself.  We all need to be kinder to ourselves and watch how we talk to ourselves. 

oh yeah these are familiar. If you've ever seen "my big fat greek wedding" then you've met my mother. If i don't eat I'm sick, but if I eat I'm fat and should stop eating. Everything had mountains of salt in it. Usually plenty of vegetables but being European we always had plenty of ham, salami, and a lot of full fat cheese, everything came drizzled in olive oil. I would eat an entire packet (prob 3-4 servings) of cold meat and half a thing of brie for lunch with french bread by the time I was done and not even think about it.  It was just what we ate. Mum was always starving herself to be thin, is still doing that actually, because like me she had to be careful what she ate but will not be sensible about it. Dad and siblings could eat an entire cow and not put on an ounce, just because they have those kind of metabolisms. mum's a chef, food is her life, and LOTS of food. it wasn't what's for dinner, it's what do you want for dinner and everyone had a separate meal. I definitely remember a lot of chocolate and cookies around the house but being the fat child I wasn't allowed them so I got to watch everyone else eat them and then worked out ways of either sneaking or hoarding them then would pay my friends to buy me candy and junk food before the bus to school. 

Original Post by: carlyjmac1

shouldnt the title be subconscious not unconscious?

In psychology terms, unconscious is the correct term. There is technically no subconscious...

These are fantastic solutions! thankyou :D I am still a teenager yet, so no children... but I have a friend who's parents deffinitly said 90% of those things to her, and even when i was twelve, I knew those things were the right sayings to be teaching children, and now my friend will likely go on to telling those things to her kids.


I'm a proud member of the clean plate club. Eat what you take. Take less if you can't eat it. Learn what portions your body can handle.

As for the topic of the story, I think this is great. I've been reading so many stories from friends with ED's (in real life, not online) who's parents said comments that they thought were harmless, but actually hurt the children. Think about food in a different way. Food is fuel. It is not a reward. It is not a treat. It is what we need to live. Children should eat the food they are provided in reasonable portions, but kids that want to eat more shouldn't be shamed. Even saying "you sure were hungry today" can hurt them. Talk to them about themselves and their lives while eating, not about the food they are eating.

Original Post by: roachedezign

These are fantastic solutions! thankyou :D I am still a teenager yet, so no children... but I have a friend who's parents deffinitly said 90% of those things to her, and even when i was twelve, I knew those things were the right sayings to be teaching children, and now my friend will likely go on to telling those things to her kids.



Sorry I meant *were not the right sayings to be teaching children*



I heard "if you don't eat your vegetables you won't get any dessert" , well it was easy to polish off the vegetables because I was pretty good at slight of hand and could easily get them onto my napkin or up my sleeve. I loved sweets, but I think my Mom would have eventually gotten me to eat my vegetables and cut down on the desserts, but she died when I was eight.

Enter the evil step-mom, who was HUGE herself, but always put me down (and I was not "fat" at the time, just on my way to getting that way), she told me I was ugley and fat and would hide food from us kids so she could eat whatever and whenever she wanted, but we were only allowed to eat at mealtime and then it was "portioned" out and we were given all the "healthy" food while she ate all the "junk" food and then rubbed it in our face.

I love junk food, but I hate that I love it and want to like healthy foods so bad, I am at my lowest weight right now and I only have 15-20lbs to lose and I will lose it! I know that these habits were formed by my childhood and food is my comfort, I think because it was with held from me I feel like when I can have it, I should have it because I wasn't able to have it when I was a child....make sense?


Great Article !


My Parents always called the children "fat" or "out of shape".  No Desserts ever.. and if we didn't eat our veggies, we got nothing PERIOD.  I wish my parents told me to eat.  Ha !

Unconscious can also mean "without awareness", as used in the title.


Thanks as a preschool teacher i find this very useful and will share it with my school,

unfortunately, i grewup in a family with tons of eating disorders,  It is almost painful for me to share a meal with my family because all my mother will talk about if she should not have eaten something, or what she ate, or how much,  as a recovered anorexic i find it really tough and hurtful she could not even shut her mouth as I tried desperately to recover.  also she judges everyone based on thier size,  she believes if you dont care enough about your body to be thin then your "lazy."

My parents didn't play too many games about food or mealtimes, just gave me a reasonable amount of food, and I was expected to eat it and not waste.  We never had any elaborate desserts around, because my mom was always watching her waistline, and my dad couldn't eat sweets.  Unfortunately for his arteries, he compensated by eating too much fat meat, butter, cheese, salt, etc.  He traveled all over the country when I was growing up, and was usually only home on weekends, so we ate simpler meals when dad was not home.  I was an only child, too, so there was no competition for food, or mom's attention.  I do have eating issues today, mainly because I love sweets and have to be pretty strict with myself---especially because my mom later became diabetic, so I know what that can do.  I try not to have sweets around the house, we have dessert only if we eat out these days.  We do keep frozen yogurt on hand, and sugar-free candy, and I chew gum a lot (also helps to keep me from smoking...)   I am almost 60, used to be 5'7" but now have shrunk to 5'5" due to menopause and some osteoporosis in spite of dancing and exercise, and I weigh 190.  People tell me I don't look grossly overweight, I am reasonably firm, but I feel like I am.  My stomach is my biggest problem.... I had breast cancer surgery in 2004, the reconstruction involved moving muscle and tissue from the abdominal area to the chest, and subsequently, all my weight gain seems to migrate to that area....which I carry high like a pregnancy!!    I hate that, I feel that it looks very weird!   I do bellydance, swim and tai chi, and still can't lose weight unless I religiously count calories AND exercise every day.  I had a total hip replacement, so walking on concrete or in a mall, etc. is uncomfortable for me.  I would realistically like to weigh about 150 lbs, but don't know if this will ever happen again.  My dr won't give me any kind of diet aid due to high blood pressure.  I am working at home right now, and spend a lot of time sitting at the computer, so that doesn't make weight loss very easy.  Any and all suggestions welcome! 


Great article, I too am a member of the clean plate club, (and for a while the 'clean everyone else's plate club':)  I do not remember my mom making unreasonable demands, but like many of that era, lived on canned veggies , white bread, and meat and gravy.  In my case the emphasis was on how you looked , paramount and more important than how healthy or how you felt inside.  I totally rebelled after being complimented on how thin I was, but felt ugly and unhappy on the inside.  Unfortunately I concentrated too much on the inside  and ignored that being healthy makes you feel good as well.  It has been a process learning the balance, and learning to realize that to lose will have to be done in a timely manner, not overnight.  I am learning that losing does not mean I have to be miserable, just reasonable.

As a general rule thumb, if something is published by an individual with an M.D. it is highly unlikely that it would go out totally unedited. The word usage in the title is correct. I think it would be helpful if the criticisms were more constructive. 

This article is supposed to make us think about what we learned about food as children and what we are teaching our children. The general message is don't force kids to eat when they are not hungry. In so many instances parents just repeat what we heard without thinking about what our kids are learning from it. 

However, I would disagree with the comment "Kids are smart. When you bribe them to eat certain foods they quickly realize those foods are yucky and dessert is the reward." I definitely agree that kids are smart; smart enough to know that chocolate tastes better than broccoli. I don't think any unconscious messages to determine that. The foods that are really good for us do not always taste the best.

 What I do with my little girl is I tell her that she has to eat something from every food group before she has dessert. I show her the children's food pyramid and help explain what each type of food does for our body. For example protein helps build muscles and carbs give us energy. You will also notice that desserts are not really on there because there are healthier ways of getting what we need. Sugar does not really do anything good for our body besides taste good on our tongues! She can have dessert but it is important to give our body what it needs first. (I do leave the starving African and Indian children out of it though). :)

Sometimes we say our favorite fruit, veggie, bread, protein and calcium foods. I think it helps keep things positive and focus on good foods that we like. 

Good Job!!!

My parents were extreme force feeders. I was a skinny little wisp until I hit about mid-40s. When I was a child I heard about the starving children all over the world, I took icky tasting liquid Geritol, cod liver oil, mineral oil, wine, you name it. The most used one was, "you can't leave the table until you clean your plate". I have a very small esophagus, apparently, and it actually hurts to swallow some foods, like steak if it's not very very tender, so I eat slowly. We also had the rule that we had to chew each bite 16 times before swallowing and not to add another bite to our mouth until the first one was all gone. I have no idea where 16 came from but some of the rules served me well as an adult. I have always used good table manners. The point was that because I ate so slow and so little I would always be the last one at the table. Everyone else would leave and the dishes would be cleared and I would be sitting there nodding off in my plate of cold food. I know this sounds all Mommy Dearest but for the most part my parents were not terribly strict. I guess they just worried that because I was so thin, I must be ill or would become ill. I'm not what you would call obese. I would love to lose 20 pounds but I'd be happy with 10; however, I finally did learn to clean my plate and now I have a really hard time throwing food away.


Ok, I know this will shock, but I hate pudding. A southern girl who hates banana pudding, oh the shame.

We were just thankful we HAD food on the table.

We had times like that too. As kids we weren't as aware, but my mother talks about how she worried that there wasn't enough food in the house. I think most of those times were before I was born. We were lucky that my grandparents were farmers. They shared a lot with us. Some years my parents raised a garden and we had friends who also farmed and would share livestock with us. We were really poor but so was almost everyone else we knew so we didn't know how poor we were. We learned to be resourceful. I was making my own clothes by age 14. Started babysitting at 11. Never walked to school barefoot in the snow though.

I was a picky eater as a child, and my grandma (who would cook for us) would give in and only cook what I liked. I think I survived on white rice and sausages for a while. I also got all of the junk I wanted. Right now I'm overweight, and working to get to a more healthy BMI. I've also found that things I didn't like when I was a child, I like now. I never used to like vegetables, but now I eat them all the time.

As a parent of an incredibly picky eater, I find myself saying many of these things in order to convince my son to eat dinner. It really doesn't matter what I serve him; he will say "I don't like ___" unless it is chicken nuggets. He gets the same dinner as everyone else, but he won't voluntarily eat, no matter how hungry he is (unless we are having chicken nuggets for dinner, which we never do). I have read much information on the subject and have tried most of the techniques suggested above. They do not work, at least not for him. So, yes, I do bribe him with dessert (usually I don't make him clean his plate, but he must try everything and eat most of the healthiest things on his plate in order to get dessert). And guess what? It works!!!

My attitude about food was definitely (and still is, even as an adult) influenced by my parents, but I wish they had been more encouraging about exercising.  My dad was a runner but that was something he did by himself, his alone time - same thing with walking our dog, unless you asked him to join.  My mother never exercised in the formal sense - there were four of us kids, after all.  But when I quit dance class and soccer there was never a discussion of a replacement activity that would give me the same opportunity to be active.  I was a depressed preteen who turned to food for comfort, and let's be real:  you never totally outgrow your 13 y/o self!

Ooooh...terra of plenty! Yes, plenty for some...and little or nothing for others.

Explotation of the vulnerable, it is call

oooooooooo...terra of plenty! yes, plentñy for some...and little or nothing for others...

Explotation of thevulnerable, it is called.

For me it was slightly different although my unhealthy relationship with food definitely stems from childhood.

We didn't have a lot of money so nice things were in short supply but I used to get shouted at for putting too much peanut butter on my sandwhich or eating cheese that was in the fridge. I liked to save my food for later if it was something nice and it would invaribly get eaten by someone else before I got the chance so I learned to eat as much as I could or else I wouldn't get to have any. As an adult, it took me a long time to realise that I still had the midset that I had to eat everything nice that was around or I wouldn't get to have any. This meant that if I bought treats with my grocery shopping I would eat them all that night, if I cooked one of my favourite meals I would eat enough for 3 meals straight after each other because subconsciously I thought that if I didn't I wouldn't get to enjoy it at a later time. Even now, 57lbs into my weightloss if I start thinking I want to eat something without being hungry, I have to remind myself that if I want it tomorrow it'll still be there.

It took me a long time to to understand that this was what was happening in my head and the habit of eating things or else they'll be gone is a hard one to beat. I'm an adult now, I don't need to save my money to buy a block of cheese to guzzle in my room on my own, I don't need to eat huge portions or I won't get any. Sorry for the sob story but I know that it's the reason I put on so much weight and battled to watch what I ate in the past. It's also why I love calorie counting, I don't need to deprive myself of anything, if I want it, I'll have it and just factor it into my calorie limit. 

Fantastic article! I never thought about those "unconscious messages from childhood". So true!

I was born and raised in Brazil and almost every day we had rice, black beans, "french fries", red meat chicken or fish, AND vegetables. But they were not only vegetables they were "Oh my gosh you've gotta eat these carrots I got in the market today they are out of this world". So I grew up loving vegetables and was never overweight.

And now a mother of two I say "Oh my gosh look at this broccoli bla bla bla" not to make them eat greens, but because I really love my veggies. My advise to mothers is read carefully this article so you can internalize it and "use the oh my gosh bla bla bla even if you do not like vegetables, and EAT them with your child. Meals are to be shared and enjoyed together.

The attitude of the parents, what they eat, what they say and what they put on the table make a HUGE different on the eating habits of their children.

Original Post by: stcrx


Really? I always heard how can you have any pudding if you dont kick your feet... never understood what the heck that meant...

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