Updated: Feb 28
Weird thing to hate right? But it was there at the table where my mom looked at me–her picky eater daughter–and said, “Eat it or starve.” She wasn’t having any of it. The rule was I couldn’t get up from the table until I ate what she made.
I felt everything at that table.
Shame that I was a picky eater and couldn’t do anything about it.
Anxious because it seemed like food was all anyone would talk about with me: how little I ate, what I ate, when I ate.
Sad when my sister begged me to eat the dinner my mom made, just so I could get up.
Rage when I told my mom I didn’t like the texture of onions and instead of pureeing them or using onion powder to hide them, she would leave the chunks in. Too small to pick out, but too big for me to take a bite.
Resentful because I was the only one in my family who dealt with this.
Guilty for feeling like a burden.
Overwhelmed for all the attention my pickiness was attracting.
I took those feelings with me to school where I would spend my lunch money on Choco Tacos, chips, and soda.
Or when my mom decided to stop cooking dinner all together and by that point, didn’t seem to care if I ate at the table or not. So... Pop-Tarts for dinner.
I even took the feelings with me to the army.
The first thing you need in order to get through basic training is fuel.
When first confronted with the food options, I was nervous. No Pop-Tarts here as you can imagine 😉
But (!) There was the loaded potato. For ten months straight, I ate one meal every day that consisted of several loaded baked potatoes topped with cheese, sour cream, and bacon, a side of chocolate cheesecake, and milk to drink.
But here’s the thing, I was skinny and didn’t think twice about it. To me, this was just life.
And then, I became a mom myself.
Now with a house, a husband, a son, and a kitchen table of my own, I started cooking. My son was a picky eater. So it made things easy at first.
Until…(there’s always an “until” right?), I went back into the army for a second time, we moved into an apartment without room to even put a table, and Paul–my husband–started cooking.
I didn’t want to set foot in that kitchen. I didn’t want to look at the meal my loving husband prepared for us and feel all those feelings.
Of course he wasn’t making me stay until I ate what he made. But it didn’t matter. Every time he gave me a plate, all those emotions hit me.
Some time after that, Megan came to me with the idea of building an oat business that wouldn’t just make granola, but would focus on helping people change their relationship with food. I understood where she was coming from–it certainly sounded like a great idea. I already believed that making the right choices for your spirit and soul was so important. But, I always neglected those choices for my body.
One night, Megan wanted to make dinner for me and a few other friends.
“What can I make for you guys?” Megan asked. “I’m happy to accommodate anyone’s preferences or allergies. Just let me know.”
“You don’t have to worry about me,” I said. “I’m so picky that no matter what you make, I won’t like it. But,” I gave her a reassuring smile, “you won’t hear me complain at all.”
I thought I was being gracious. She didn’t have to worry about me. I didn’t have to be the burden I believed myself to be since I was a kid.
But what she said next, rocked me to my core.
“That’s because you have a f*cked up relationship with food.”
Something cracked in me. I started bawling and couldn’t stop.
The words were so true. Before it never even felt like a relationship, but more like a flaw that I couldn’t shake.
Now? We’ve moved back into a house where we eat as a family. Prep as a family. Clean up as family. My son and I are both doing so much better with family style eating.
For the first time, I’m not looking at the kitchen table as a place where I feel like crap about myself.
Instead, it’s a place where I can connect: to my food, to my family, and to myself.
Everyone deserves a chance to explore their relationship with food. Everyone deserves to come to the table with a happier–maybe even elevated experience.
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