I have a guest post at Amy Julia Becker‘s lovely blog, Thin Places. Amy Julia is also graciously hosting a giveaway, so if you head over to her blog and leave a comment, you’ll be entered to win a free copy of Eat With Joy–the kind made out of paper!
Amy Julia asked me to write on something related to eating with joy with children–and that’s just what I did, starting with my first pregnancy with my now seven-year-old son, Aidan:
Since my early teens I’d viewed food as a dangerous temptation: fresh bread with butter, plates of pasta marinara, and squares of quality chocolate conspired to make me fat and unhealthy. For years I thought of myself as “healthy” for getting by on apples and Diet Coke much of the time. If food was delicious, it could only be a trap. If I craved something, or overate, I berated myself for my selfishness. In my warped way of thinking, this “discipline” pleased God.
Our culture, so radical in its individualism, had taught me, implicitly and explicitly, that my body was my own; that no one had a claim on it but me, and, also, that it was infinitely malleable. The discourse around pregnancy had other claims: not only should I be eating a perfect diet to optimize my child’s health and intelligence, I should be taking prenatal vitamins and practicing prenatal yoga. At the same time, in the pregnancy magazines at the doctor’s office, I was seeing advertisements for “getting my body back” once the pregnancy was over and for nursing tank tops that promised to conceal my “baby belly” after delivery. I felt I was receiving conflicting messages: the first being that my baby’s well-being was entirely dependent upon my eating and exercise; the second, that my body was mine, and that I should take measures to keep it that way, or at least, to conceal its pregnancy-inflicted flaws.
It goes on to talk about how I learned to accept food as God’s good gift, and how, imperfectly, of course, I try to teach my children to accept food similarly.