I’d like to re-set our eating intentions to a different time when women didn’t have eating and body image problems like today. I want to take you back 100 years to our grandmother’s younger days. Let’s consider your young grandmother’s relationship to food and her body and what it could teach us. Let’s make eating just eating again. I’d like to ratchet down the emotional investment and the stakes for each piece of food we put in our mouths. No obsession. No emotional attachment to a number on the scale. Let’s think about eating for nourishment and for pleasure like people did forever before our day and age.
What would Nana do?
We can use some of our grandmothers's eating intentions as role models for use today. Meet my grandmother. I called her Nana; her name was Rose. She would be a great role model for all the ways she differed from how women of today relate to their bodies and eating. She is not just a destination for how she looked, but a destination for her intention in thinking about her body and how she ate.
Nana cared very much how she looked, but wasn’t obsessed with the number on the scale. She was a great cook and ate dessert every day, but didn’t know a calorie from a carb and certainly didn’t own a bathroom scale. She cared if her pants were getting too tight (she made them herself, and it took quite a bit of work to make another, larger pair!), and if that happened she wouldn’t eat dessert for a few days because she understood how food worked from years of eating everyday. And, she kept this understanding of how food worked front and center in her mind when there was extra dessert in the house.
She didn’t fear keeping food in the house because she wasn’t afraid of food. It was just food. She was free to eat it any time she wanted. Food was not imbued with any special powers, she didn't use it for any other reason than to fuel her body and have it be delicious.
She didn’t suffer a lack of self-esteem when she her pants got too tight. She wouldn’t have thought of punishing herself or talking in a mean voice to herself because of what she ate. Since she was allowed dessert any time she wanted, there was no deprivation or necessity to eat it at a certain time before it would be forbidden to her.
Her idea of herself didn’t depend on the number on the scale. She didn't own one until she turned 55, so she didn't have a lifetime obsession with the numbers on it. So she wasn’t afraid of gaining weight.She was just living her life. Food and eating were not ruining it.
She expected to age like all the other women she had met, and didn’t think it was her job to be sexy for men or stay frozen in time. She had a casual, relaxed relationship with food and her body.
The casual, relaxed relationship with food is why our grandmothers would be good role models for us. However, it’s been pointed out to me that not all grandmothers fit this bill. At one of my talks a woman mentioned to me that her grandmother was a "mean old butterball." If your grandmother isn’t the model I’m suggesting, please borrow my Nana metaphorically for your role model. She’d be happy to be of use to you.
". . .when I stopped looking at my body like a home improvement project—like an ornament to be molded to my liking (or the liking of others), and started looking at my body like the human person that she is—the child of someone, the sister of someone—a living, breathing animal that feels things, this shift in perspective, from self-loathing to self-care, slowly but surely, began to influence my 'wants.'"
--Isabel Foxen-Duke, Stop Feeling Crazy Around Food
- Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, Body Respect, 2014.
- Paul Campos, The Diet Myth, 2005.
- Carolyn Costin, Your Dieting Daughter, 2013 (2nd edition).
- Kerry Egan,On Living, 2016.
- Renee Engeln, Beauty Sick, 2017.
- Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel, Beyond a Shadow of a Diet, 2014 (2nd edition).
- Julia V. Taylor, The Body Image Workbook for Teens, 2014.
- Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch,Intuitive Eating Workbook: 10 Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food, 2017.