Yeah, the weight issue. Sigh.
I'm trying my damndest to make it all about feeling good. My motivation for losing weight isn't so much the way I look, although to be honest that's part of it. I am just so gosh darn CUTE when I am tiny. But it's more about being cheap (my fat clothes are wearing out, my thin clothes have some life in them, mostly because they're better quality because I was all rich and employed when I bought them), wanting my back to stop hurting, wanting to be able to do those fun upside-down pilates moves again (I just can't with the tummy flab in the way), wanting to be *happy* about it when Rowan wants to run to the grocery store, and wanting, above all, to be just physically STRONG. There is obviously a limit to how strong I can get, being only 5' tall, but being able to lift a 20kg bag of dog food on one shoulder and carry a child on the other hip would be good. Being able to chase a toddler to the grocery store while having another babe in arms would also be nice. Right now, that ain't happening.
QofC, that's a really interesting dichotomy with you and your sister, but both of you seem to be basing your weight/nutrition goals on what you *look* like, rather than how you feel or what you can do. My family is equally influential in how I feel about my body - my sisters don't have weight problems, and they don't really have weight issues, either - but both are very athletic and I guess part of what I see as optimal attitude/being for women are based on them. They just ENJOY doing things with their body so much, and frankly right now I just don't. One sister has done lots of wilderness guiding and sort of "extreme" sport-type things, and in a month is going off to sail from Mexico to Fiji, the other has a black belt in karate. (Neither of them is short like me though.) I wanna be like that... I'd take kick-ass athletic over thin any day, but I know that when I am fitter, I am thinner - my metabolism doesn't really let me hold on to fat when I develop more muscle.
(The problem is that my sisters have vastly different priorities in life. Neither wants children or aspires to the heights of domestic goddesshood that I do. And, I probably at some point have to concede that a domestic goddess is not a warrior goddess and thus does not need bulging muscles and the ability to rappel down a 200-ft cliff or hike 50km in 2 days.)
I think it is possible, though, to be healthy and fat. There is an undeniable genetic component to weight and there are some people, like a good friend of mine, who are probably always going to be fat no matter what they do, or, if they were to get slim, the sacrifices they'd have to make (like 2 hours at the gym every day, minimal food intake) wouldn't be worth it. I am fortunate that I *can* lose weight easily, but that's not the case for everyone. But even though she's probably 70 lbs heavier than me (and the same height), I wouldn't say my friend is less healthy. She eats the same kind of diet I do, with minimal sugar, lots of fruit and veg, and pastured meats & eggs. She walks a lot, goes to the gym when she can fit it in, sleeps well, and doesn't have any chronic health issues. So, who's to say she's not healthy? Epidemiological studies actually show that heavier people live longer than skinny ones.
. So, go figure.
It's a difficult area, to be sure. Helen, I don't know how cake fits into it. I don't like myself when I eat stuff like that *regularly*, because nutrition and good food and health are SO much a part of how I was raised and my interests today... but at the same time I get what you're saying, and I ALMOST agree with it... the only problem, I think, is that some people (um, like me) are more attracted, biologically, to white flour, sugar, HFCS, etc., and there are real behavioural changes in response. Those things aren't natural for our bodies to take in, and they trigger biological responses that make us want more... I hate to say it, but I think if cake is around a lot (which I don't think it is, at your house) the concept of unfooding could be akin, in kind if not in degree, to leaving packets of cigarettes around for the kids to use, or not, as they felt like. I just can't make myself believe that white flour, sugar, transfats, etc. are *benign*. KWIM? I've been brainwashed by the nutrition nazis over in Traditional Foods.
Pay no attention to me. I am rambling muchly. But I do like the idea generally of letting kids choose their own food. In our house that leads to massive cheese consumption though, and cheese is expensive here.