Eating Habits Are Learned at a Very Young Age

kristina-child2As I have been on this journey to a healthier lifestyle, there have been many eye-opening experiences about the different eating behaviors that I picked up on as a child.

For one, I know that I can recall many times sitting at my grandmother’s dining table finishing up my dinner and being told that in order to get dessert that I would have to finish everything on my plate.  I don’t recall if my family gave me adult-sized portions and I was being stubborn about what I was eating (and we were definitely in the kind of family where you ate whatever was served to you and there was none of this “special kids meal” that was prepared for me).  However, regardless of the situation, the concept of having to finish everything that was on my plate, rather than being asked if I was full, in order to then be “rewarded” with a sweet treat is one that I have been thinking quite a bit about lately.  I was rewarded for eating all of my food.  And, even to this day, I am someone that tends to prepare my plate and eat until everything has been consumed.

kristina-child1Another behavior was that I have always eaten very fast. I don’t know why. Perhaps my brother and I competed to finish first for seconds? All I know is that I’ve always eaten very fast. Between that and cleaning up my plate, it’s no wonder that I ended up with a weight problem. It’s something I still struggle with today and that I have to consciously think about.

My mother was a single mother and had two growing children.  I’m 5’11” and my brother is 6’4″.  I can remember shopping at Costco and my mom having to get lots of milk for us.  And we always had a glass of milk at dinner.

At the time, my mother cooked food that was simple and easy to make.  She worked full-time and did not have time to prepare much from scratch.  Lunches were often packed by myself, even at a young age.  Foods were quick and easy.  We had chips.  We had cookies.  We had crackers.  It wasn’t unusual for me to come home from school and chow down on an afternoon snack.  And, at that time, I was relatively active enough in my daily life that my weight was maintained and kept under control.  And, I recall as a child that (like most children), I haaaaaaaaaated vegetables.  HATED them.  H.A.T.E.  There were very few vegetables that I actually liked (unless you count french fries, which you don’t… so…).
The result was that, as an adult, I was unwilling to try new things.  I was only comfortable with the things that I knew based on what I had as a kid and was willing to eat as a kid.  My willingness to try new foods and at least explore and be open to trying a new food before judging it has also become something that I’ve learned along this journey.  My whole world has opened up to so many foods!  And, the best part, it’s been healthy foods!

The point of this post is that I found it really interesting to see how much our behaviors are formed as a young child, even before the pressures to be beautiful and thin come into play in our pre-teen and teenage years.  It’s made me think about what I will do differently when and if I ever have kids.  And it’s definitely made me more aware about my current thoughts and behaviors as an adult.  It, like most things in life, is a work in progress.

So, what about you? Do you have any of these or other eating habits you can think of that you learned as a child?