May 22, 2006 by Marj Hatzell
I love food. I don’t just eat it out of necessity, it is a hobby for me. I think about it all day, I want to eat all day. I don’ t eat things just because I have to eat and get something in my body, I physically ENJOY putting certain foods in my mouth. It is almost like a drug for me. I know I am addicted.
You might think I am being crazy. I am 5’4″ and 145 lbs. I am not overweight, I work out regularly. I take good care of my body. But I have to, to avoid my genes.
I come from a family of morbidly obese individuals. I grew up in a house where eating was the most important event of the day. We were all involved in sports, after school activities, dance, etc, but meals were the focus. And, to make it worse, my mom is Irish and Dad is German, so everything is made in one pot with bread and potatoes. My Dad’s mother and sister (and now one brother) are/were in the morbidly obese category. My Dad is too, although he was twice the size at one point due to other health problems. I have a sister that is a few pounds shy of being morbidly obese and a brother who is well on his way. But the rest of us fight it tooth and nail, because we know what our siblings went through, being teased as children. You’d pay money to be a fly on the wall at our family reunion each summer, the eating is AMAZING and shocking. And, even though there are several hundred people at the state park that day, you’d be able to pick us out just from my prior description.
As a kid I ate enough for 3 people. Sometimes I still do. As a teen I would eat even more and then PURGE it as soon as possible, thanks to a high school friend’s lesson in the downstairs bathroom between classes. I couldn’t believe how great it felt to eat all of that YUMMY stuff and then not feel badly about it. But I always felt badly. I continued to do the purging well after high school, for a total of about six years. As a result, I ended up with scarring in my stomach, an ulcer and gall bladder disease. And I have myself to blame.
If I wasn’t so obsessed with food I think I’d be much happier. I was skinny (very) for most of my life, and now I am an average size. Most people tell me they want to be my size. So why do I want to be the other size? Why do I look in my mirror like it is a fun-house mirror and see a potato, when I am a really small pear? Sure, age and gravity are taking their toll, but I know at least one of my sisters would love to be able to eat what I eat and get away with it.
While I don’t count calories or fat or restrict what I eat, I only buy healthy selections. I don’t buy junk food at all. I get a few healthy kids’ snacks, and that is it. The kids have tons of fruits and veggies and lean proteins and yogurt to eat. I grew up in a house with sugared snacks, nasty junk food and KOOLAIDE to drink. Which is what my mother considered to be juice. Scary. But I am trying my best to help my kids avoid the obesity, without being obvious. I am careful never to use words like ‘fat’ and ‘skinny’ or put emphasis on size. I don’t reward them with food. I make sure they have small, frequent meals that are healthy and well-balanced. I am teaching them how to eat, something I wish I learned as a kid.
So, in the meantime, I am trying my best to enjoy food. Every woman I know is constantly weighing herself, looking in the mirror, holding up the old photo of herself. She is unhappy, watching everything she eats, wishing she was thinner, younger, softer, less dimply. I am doing my best not to live that way. I CANNOT live that way. I want to enjoy my life, not be depressed about everything that goes in my mouth. Is that possible?
Ok, enough rambling…