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We should all think more about what we are eating

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: January 13, 2014

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I've been thinking about food. More specifically, I've been thinking about our attitudes to food and how we want our children to think about food.

I am aware that this is an incredibly sensitive topic and I'm going to try to proceed as delicately as possible but apologies in advance for any offence, it is definitely not intended.

I love food. Always have done, always will. And I don't think there is anything wrong with that in itself. But, I do have a tendency to overeat, to comfort eat and to try to feed people to solve sadness. And I no longer think these are healthy attitudes towards food.

I was quite chubby as a child and as a teenager and while at university I wasn't fat, but there was definitely more weight on me than my body needed.

Weirdly, during both my pregnancies I lost weight. I mean, I obviously put on weight because of the baby bump, but not long after the birth of Sophia I was thinner than I'd ever been. For me, breastfeeding further aided this process, and six months after Isaac was born I think I probably fell into the "slender" category, fitting into two dress sizes smaller than pre-children. But both times after breastfeeding the weight started to creep back on.

This summer I started to think about it all. I felt better at a lower weight, had more energy, more confidence and, clinically speaking, was probably healthier.

I started to stop snacking when the kids snacked and in the evenings (they need the extra calories as they are constantly moving and their metabolisms are much quicker and more efficient, me… not so much), ate smaller portions, less cake and chocolate, and tried to make healthier meals.

And I didn't feel particularly hungry at the loss of the extra food, which surprised me. I started exercising more regularly (still probably only twice a week) and found my energy levels and posture improving. So I am trying to keep this change in lifestyle going.

It seems to me that the media either talks about our obesity epidemic or the increase of eating disorders. We are going down one of two routes, either so desperate to look good that we starve ourselves or embracing food and not really being sensible about what our body actually needs, only thinking of what our head wants.

At the end of the day, every human being has a different weight that is ideal for them but generally speaking, it's not going to be extremely heavy or thin. My concern here isn't so much about beauty or the way we look. Far from it.

Although it's great to feel attractive, it is so subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all. So much has already been said about this and the effect it is having on our children.

I'm very aware of society's obsession with the way we look and strive to try to counter it if the subject comes up with Sophia and Isaac, I try to focus on characteristics of their personality, deeds they have done, that are beautiful, rather than the way they look (which is hard as I – biased mother here – think they are absolutely gorgeous!).

No, my concern is with the actual health of our bodies. Maintaining a good weight is essential for our hearts, our kidneys, livers, bones… pretty much everything.

The culture of eating and drinking what we want, when we want, combined with a dramatic increase in the time spent in front of a screen cannot be a good thing.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this really but just to remind us maybe to think a bit more about what we're putting in us.

To ask ourselves if we're really hungry when we go for that late evening snack, to try to choose a healthy option rather than more cake, to think about the content of what we're cooking, to maybe cook from scratch a bit more rather than choose the ready made option stuffed with preservatives and chemicals, to stop and decide whether a sugar or salt-laden food is really going to make us feel better after a rough day or whether it's just habit and association. Mainly, just to think.

I won't avoid cakes and occasional takeaways or second helpings.

But I will be trying to make healthier choices for my body, to mirror good attitudes for my children so hopefully they will grow up and be able to eat well.

Read Hannah's blog at the starlingsgatherhere.word press.com

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