Research shows very clearly that what we are exposed to early in life could impact us throughout life. For most of us, our family or who we were raised with were the first lessons of exposure in our life. These individuals taught us:
- How to walk
- Religious practices or not
- Prejudices in some cases
- Expectations of success or failure
- View of being advantaged or disadvantaged
- How to be violent, sexually dysfunctional, and mentally unhealthy
- Drug/alcohol/food addiction
- Importance of love and relationships
- Health practices
- Belief in oneself
The list could go on and on and on.
Here are some examples of how some of us could have been conditioned by family and those involved in our childhood upbringing.
- I have a close friend that was raised in a VERY strict religious manner. As a child, she was told to dress in a certain way, treat men in a subservient way, and worship God in a certain way. This created feelings of confusion and frustration for her that led to other excessive behaviors in areas of her life, especially the way she ate. She was able to overcome this, develop her own belief system about religion, spirituality, and God. She also uses the strictness of her childhood to be disciplined in her life with nutrition, exercise, thinking patterns, and to educate herself.
- I grew up in an area of many different ethnicities, cultural, and economic diversities. There were working poor, wealthy, people of every race. This included a large Native American population due to the small town’s proximity to two large reservations. My Native friends regularly ate fry bread, potatoes, and desserts. Often, meals were a celebration or family gathering. Many ate this way because of economic conditions and not knowing how to eat healthy on a tight budget. As a result, many of my friends developed diabetes and other health related issues due to obesity and other poor health practices. My friend Jeff was one of these people. After being diagnosed with type two diabetes and weighing 275 pounds at age 34, Jeff decided to make some positive changes with his health. He began to study nutrition and exercise moderately. He did not change where he lived or family. Although he had many struggles conquering his addiction to food because of his early life conditioning, he eventually won the battle and dropped 90 pounds. After one year, he had no signs of diabetes and ran his first half marathon. He did not love his culture or family less. In fact, many of his family have joined him in creating a healthy lifestyle and are making major changes themselves. He did not allow others to influence him, HE DID THE INFLUENCING!
Answer the following questions as they pertain to you. It is of the UTMOST IMPORTANCE to handwrite the answers if possible and to communicate as clearly as you possibly can. This cannot be understated. Think and communicate clearly with yourself in your answer.
How has your family or culture impacted your nutritional beliefs?
How has your family or culture impacted your attitude toward exercise?
How has this conditioning impacted your weight and/or health?
If it has impacted you negatively with weight or health issues, are you still continuing the destructive behaviors?
Without blame or judgment, list 5 ways you can develop new and healthier practices and still appreciate the family and culture of your past.
- I can honor my culture and family during celebrations and parties by enjoying some food. The rest of the time I will focus on my health goals and honor my family by staying as healthy as I can.
- I will recognize when I am being sentimental and eating out of emotion due to my family conditioning. I will respond to this lifelong auto response by having food prepared and sticking to my plan. I will focus on my health and distract myself, call a support person, or go exercise until I work through the cravings or desire to go on a binge.
- I love my mother and know she was doing her best. From a young age however, she gave me lots of sugary treats and simple carbs. I believe I developed a physical food addiction that still plagues me today. I will meal prep and stick to only whole food and natural sugars through fruits and vegetables.
- I will recognize when my unhealthy desire for sugars is becoming an obsession. I will eat a piece of fruit, meditate and breathe, and text my support person.
Now It is your turn: Make sure you communicate clearly:
I hope this helps you at least recognize how you may have been conditioned to believe, eat, and live in a way that does not serve your goal of good health. The more self-awareness you have, the more you will develop change. Begin as soon as possible. BE YOUR OWN MIRACLE!
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