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Learned Behavior

Posted Dec 29 2008 12:00am

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been on some sort of diet, or if she’s not, she is about to be. The thing is, my mom is not overweight and she never has been. This has been going on my entire life. When I was about 8, my mom went on some sort of diet where she basically subsisted on cucumbers. She lost way too much weight and had to be taken to the hospital to have gallbladder surgery:

Other studies have shown that 10 to 25 percent of obese people develop gallstones while on a very-low-calorie diet. (Very-low-calorie diets are usually defined as diets containing 800 calories a day or less. The food is often in liquid form and taken for a prolonged period, typically 12 to 16 weeks.) The gallstones that developed in people on very-low-calorie diets were usually silent and did not produce any symptoms. However, about a third of the dieters who developed gallstones did have symptoms, and a proportion of these required gallbladder surgery.


I was a chubby kid and I’m honestly not sure if it was a partial sort of rebellion. When I was a little kid, a toddler, I did eat healthy. But then came the low-fat craze of the 80s and 90s and suddenly, all that I was allowed to eat was processed low-fat crap. Some of her shopping rules were good; I wasn’t allowed to have cereal with sugar as the first ingredient for example, but others were just plain stupid. I wasn’t allowed to buy food with more than 3 grams of fat per serving. Of course, when there are these strict rules placed upon a kid, what did I do? I went to my friend’s houses and gorged on cookies.

A couple of years back, I lost a lot of weight. Several people commented on how I looked gaunt and unhealthy. I was definitely spiralling into this pattern of disordered thoughts about food. I knew it and all I really wanted was for my mom to realize it too. I just wanted, even though at this point I was around 26, my mom to think I was too thin. But she never did. Everyone else that I associated with saw the onset of a problem, but my mom thought I ate “beautifully”. I knew something was not right at the time and to hear her say that made me even more upset. Issues with food that start dictating your life are certainly not beautiful.

It was New Years Eve, I can’t remember what year – going into 2005, maybe? I was at a bar with three of my friends and we went around in a circle and said our resolutions. Mine was to stop being so fucked up about food. And, though I still have my moments, I did. I stopped. So that’s why it’s so hard to hear the comments from my mom. She doesn’t ever say anything about me, but she’s constantly talking about dieting herself. She lost about 10 pounds recently. They were just vanity pounds, but it wasn’t unhealthy for her to lose them. But she lost them by having such “self-control” that she set herself up to fail. Of course, when the holidays came around, she indulged. She told me that she was so bad. She hadn’t had a cookie since summer and now she felt like she was going to gain back all the weight. She told me that she was doing a 4-day diet. The diet is ridiculous. It’s basically starving yourself for 4 days. The meal plan is something like 700 calories a day, maybe. I told her that it was stupid. She said she knew it was but she didn’t care, she wanted a fast fix.

I don’t know why this bothers me so much, why I can’t just ignore it. I think because she doesn’t see what she’s doing. Even when I was all fucked up about food, I saw that there was a problem. I didn’t care, but I saw it. She really doesn’t see it and I think she doesn’t see at all, how much her views on dieting affected her daughter. When I see my mom (she lives in MD), I am always worried about what she’ll think about what I look like. I don’t know why I feel like I have to be thin to please her. It’s not entirely her fault; her mom pushed these ideals on her as well. It’s just this cycle and I want it to end with me.

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