I was reading a book this weekend, Untamed by Glennon Doyle, and she wrote an entry about food relationships among girls versus boys. Basically, a group of her children and their friends, boys and girls in their early teens, were asked, "Who is hungry?!" during a movie night. The boys, without even taking their eyes off the movie, all exclaimed "yes!". The girls? They all looked at each other with questioning eyes, as if the others could determine if they themselves were hungry. They looked outward instead of inward. And then one young girl spoke on behalf of all the girls, "We are fine, thank you".
As if determining your hunger can be found amongst others.
I've experienced this. I still experience this. I'm really not sure why. I know I need food. I know that I deserve food. So why, when I have so much knowledge and experience around nutrition and exercise, do I struggle with my hunger cues?
Maybe it's because I'm concerned what others will think of me.
"Oh, she eats a lot."
"Wow, what a pig."
It's not fun to admit, but I do care what other people think of me. This is something I need to work on to have complete freedom over my body, my life. Truthfully, nobody is paying that much attention to you. And if they are, they clearly have their own set of issues.
Maybe it's because I'm not actually hungry, but feel like eating. We all do this. Food is such a social thing, truly. We go for lunch, a coffee date, a drink; Food is usually the center of social outings and there is nothing wrong with that. Eating is something we all do and, therefore, something we all have a mutual bond over. We need food to live and part of that is sharing experiences with other people.
Maybe it's because I label foods as good or bad. Maybe I tell myself I don't deserve a treat. Maybe it's because I know how my body feels when I eat certain things or overeating. Maybe it's because I don't like my body. Maybe it's because I am trying to lose weight. Maybe it's because I'm embarrassed of my body. Maybe it's because I'm trying to change my body. Maybe I am trying to be the smallest version of myself.
I think it's so interesting the expectations that girls set for themselves, even at such young ages. I remember being conscious of how much I ate and exercised as a 4th grader. Though the extent of my knowledge was 'eating less is better', my body image because a clear issues when I was 9 years old. This has me thinking about how we can change that. How can we teach girls that they are more than a body?
How can we teach the importance of nutrition and exercise, while not attaching it to self-worth? I don't know the answers, but I think this topic is extremely important to think about.