After yesterday’s post on bodyimage
, I’ve been thinking about what I can do to ensure S grows up with a healthy attitude towards her body, food and exercise.
On the one hand, it’s tough because there is only me to guide her on this – and I know I have my own issues that I would do anything to avoid passing onto her. As her only (main) role model, I need to make sure that I’m always a good role model, and that I lead by example. There’s no point in my encouraging her to eat vegetables and balanced meals, if I’m sitting there munching on a packet of crisps and my fourth chocolate bar of the day.
On the other hand (there’s a glove), if it’s only me then I have 100% control over the parental influence on S’s life. This is good not only because I don’t want her father’s suspect ideas on nutrition to be passed down to her (his 11 year old son is encouraged to drink protein shakes, and fresh vegetables are a once-a-week affair), but also because I’m not necessarily sure there are many other adults out there whose ideas I would like passed onto my daughter. At least with only one adult to look up to, S only stands to inherit one dodgy set of ideals.
I’ve got the exercise covered; I go for a walk at every available opportunity, and can’t wait until S is interested in the ducks and horses we see while we’re out. We rarely catch the bus or go in a car. I would rather she see this than have a mum who does exercise dvds at home intermittently (who really keeps those things up on a long term basis?) or goes to a gym, leaving her elsewhere. Eventually, I will pluck up the courage to take us both swimming as well.
Since S started on solids, I’ve been more mindful of what I’m eating. People say, Oh you can just give them what you’re having. For breakfast I had a fruit smoothie, which would be fine except for the added protein powder which I’m sure is not meant for infants. For lunch I had chicken salad; fine in principal, not so much in practise for a 6 month old with no teeth. Have you ever tried to liquidise iceberg lettuce? Dinner hasn’t happened yet, but it’s likely to be yet more salad because that’s all there is in the fridge at the moment. My eating habits are probably quite strange to the outsider. I know from experience that I function better (and maintain a steady weight) if I eat more protein, and don’t eat much in the way of carbs. I don’t have potatoes in the house at all, and I rarely cook rice or pasta to go with my meal. I do eat sweet potatoes on occasion, but quite often I just plain can’t be bothered to cook them as an accompaniment so I go without. I stopped eating bread a long time ago, after finally accepting that it makes me bloated and gassy and uncomfortable and unhappy. If I do go through a stage of eating lots of rice or pasta, I feel tired and sluggish because of it.
So where does this leave S’s diet? Do I start buying bread again, just so that she can have beans on toast and boiled egg with soldiers? Do I make her have mashed potato with every meal when I don’t? I’d rather we didn’t have separate meals or separate foods; in fact I’m actively trying to avoid that, because I believe that way lies ruin: “my mummy eats special food” is not something I ever want to hear S say. It’s a bad idea to cut any food group out of a diet, especially for a child who is just learning about food. I want her to learn that all food is good in moderation; for all I know bread, pasta and rice will have no ill effects on her, so why should I keep them from her?
And then there’s the old issue of body image. I try to avoid scrutinising my body in the mirror these days (as if I even have time for such things!) but I still have fairly bad acne scarring on my face which does bother me. S watches me get up every morning, get in and out of the bath, and get dressed. When I remember, I still rub cream into my belly in a vague attempt to get rid of the stretch marks – but since I also moisturise the rest of my body, that’s not a standalone issue. I do still have a tendency to examine my appearance once dressed to check that my belly doesn’t look too huge; that’s a habit I’ve had for years so it’s a hard one to break. I’m working on it though.