My daughter said something the other day and it has been on my mind ever since. Like “has kept me up at night” on my mind.
A couple of days ago, she had a pretty bad stomachache. She was balled up on the couch and crying she said it hurt so bad. Maybe it was motherhood paranoia, but I took her into Urgent Care because I wanted to make sure an appendicitis was ruled out.
It was on the car ride she said it: “Today was my cheat day.”
She said, “you know…my cheat day. Where I can eat anything I want.”
My body went numb and cold. Cheat day. My 9-year-old daughter is talking about a cheat day. I immediately started thinking about all of the people I know who have suffered from eating disorders…I felt a wave of panic crash over me.
And it’s all my fault. I’ve said things like “cheat day” on multiple occasions…and she’s overheard me.
My initial reaction had me telling her “you are 9! You don’t need to worry about any of that Giana! Eat what you want!”
But then I realized I needed to own up to what I have said…to what she has heard me say.
She was there when I was crying to my husband when a viewer called me “fat.” She heard me get up extra early that next morning to go for a long, excruciating run.
She’s been there when I tell my husband I look like a whale when I am pregnant.
She has seen me shake my head “no” when my husband tried to put my hamburger on a bun.
I’ve tried to be cautious with my daughter…but I’ve failed.
So it was time I had a very real conversation with my daughter.
I told her that when I look and feel my best, is when I am eating anything I want…but in moderation. I told her I feel my best when I go to my class at RocFit and I can lift weights and work up a great sweat.
I told her I really don’t like eating a lot of bread because it hurts my digestive system.
I was honest with her and told her about all of the diets I was on…and they would make me mean, angry, hungry and sick. And while they were quick fixes, they never lasted.
I told her on the days I feel sluggish or if I’m snapping at one of them, there’s a good chance I have not made good food choices and I haven’t worked out.
We talked about eating to be healthy…not “skinny.” That’s why there is no longer a working scale in our house…because those numbers mean nothing. Her eyes got deer-in-the-headlights big when I told her that when I was at my healthiest…at my fittest…is when I actually weighed the most.
It hit me…when our kids are little-little…we watch our words carefully so they don’t act like parrots and repeat everything.
But now is when I really need to watch what I’m saying…because they are truly hanging on every word. They are watching everything…ready to emulate everything we do…because we are their example.
I failed this time around.
I’m just thankful the opportunity was there to “right the ship.”
The next night we shared a couple of spoon-fuls of Ben & Jerry’s Tonight Dough. The next morning we went on a walk together.