Childhood experiences affect your health today. That may be a bold statement, but I have found that to be true in my life, as well as in my clients.
As I was pouring my bone broth into my Dallas Cowboy cup for lunch, I started to think about why I will always be a Dallas Cowboys fan. I haven’t watched football on television in years. However, if I hear the Cowboys are playing, I will root for them. Why, if I don’t watch the NFL, does it matter?
I had a “rush of remembering” of sitting on my Dad’s lap in his favorite easy chair on a Sunday afternoon, watching football. At the time, we only were able to get one channel. (I can’t image that now in the days of 100s of channels available, but one it was, and only through rabbit ears, poor reception and all.) It was the 1970s and the Dallas Cowboys were a dominate team, so they were on CBS most Sunday afternoons. I don’t remember if my Dad had a favorite team, but watch the Cowboys we did. As I grew older, I would watch as I put together jigsaw puzzles while he relaxed in his chair.
After reading the paragraph above, can you immediately see the connection…why the Cowboys will always be my team? Even when I lived in Seattle, Washington, I would cheer for the Seahawks unless they played the Cowboys. Yes, watching and cheering for them is a part of me, a part of my past. One small thing that makes me who I am. I could change my love for the Cowboys, but why would I want to? My Dad has been gone for 17 years now. When I catch a glimpse of the Cowboys, it brings with it comfort, contentment, safety, and my Dad’s presence, so I will always be a Cowboy fan.
What does this have to do with health?
What you ate when you were little effects what you eat today. What time you ate, how much you ate, and for what reason you ate still influences you today. How much you moved, if you had fun when you moved, or if exercise was a chore or part of what you did, all make difference as to how you view movement and exercise today.
Why should you care? Because knowing your triggers can help you embrace them, like I do with the Cowboys, or change them if they aren’t serving you any longer.
How Can You Embrace or Change Your Eating Triggers from Your Childhood?
1. Spend 15 minutes thinking about your childhood and food. Write it all down.
What did you eat?
Why did you eat?
What were your comfort foods?
Did you parents make you finish your plate?
Did you eat meals as a family or did you eat by yourself?
Did anyone make fun of you for what you ate?
What is your first memory of eating? Describe it.
What foods did you dislike, but had to eat anyway?
Did you ever get rewarded with food? If so, what food was it?
Do you have a fond memory of eating while enjoying the presence of one or both of your parents?
Are your food memories mostly good or not-so good?
Write down any “bad” food memories.
2. Compare those memories to how and why you eat today.
Can you see any triggers that currently influence you from your past?
For example. I love eating ice cream. My Dad was an ice cream lover. After a long day in the summer out on the farm, he would have me scoop up some ice cream in the evening to relax and enjoy with. I love ice cream. It is filled with good memories. I used to eat ice cream most evenings. When I realized why, and that it was no longer serving my health needs, I made a change. Now I don’t buy ice cream to eat at home. Occasionally we go out for ice cream. When I do I usually take just a second to think of my Dad and honor his influence on my life. I will always love ice cream. However, now I use it bring up great memories, but don’t let the comfort feelings from it over take my healthy eating habits.
3. What are 2-3 eating habits or triggers that serve you well?
How can you use those habits to increase your health eating habits. How can you incorporate more of those good things? Those comforting things? Those things that make you happy?
4. What are 2-3 eating habits or triggers that are no longer serving you?
How can you still honor the memories, feelings or people, yet not let them ruin your health or be in control of what you eat. You are the only one who can take control of your health. Start here.
Just by going through this process, it will empower to you to own and take control of triggers from your childhood.
“I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday. ” Eleanor Roosevelt
The above quote is definitely true, however, we are also who we are today because of choices others made for us during our childhood. Embrace the good things and habits you have, and face the ones that aren’t working for you, head on. Acknowledge those influences and find a way to honor those people in healthier ways.
You can also do this process for how much your move and/or exercise.
You will be on your way to taking charge of your own health.
Comment below with a food memory you have as a child and how has it effected you.
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