My mother’s relationship with food, Wendy Schwab

Previously on the show, Tiffany talked with Johnna Meyers about her struggle with eating disorders and obsession over body image. Johnna shared that the number one thing that influences a young girl is often her mom's relationship with food and its demonstration. Revisiting this idea, Tiffany sits down with her mom, Wendy.

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“Don't discipline your child because you're embarrassed of what they did and how it may reflect on what people think of you. As adults, we need to understand how we're feeling about our own health and how that child is not a reflection of us. That child is their own little individual.” —Wendy

Previously on the show, Tiffany talked with Johnna Meyers about her struggle with eating disorders and obsession over body image. Johnna shared that the number one thing that influences a young girl is often her mom's relationship with food and its demonstration.

Revisiting this idea, Tiffany sits down with her mom, Wendy to discuss how her positive relationship with food influenced their entire family.

My mother’s relationship with food, Wendy Schwab

Tiffany: I'm your host, Tiffany Sauder. And this is Scared Confident. I'm really excited to share today's conversation. It's with my mom, Wendy. And it was inspired from a previous episode with Gianna, where we talked about women and body image and relationship with food. And she shared the number one thing for a young girl is oftentimes watching her mom and her relationship with food and the way that that was demonstrated and the way that that was talked about in the way that that was taught at the implicitly or explicitly.

And so. I'd love to have this conversation with my mom to better understand as an, a grown woman today, who's raising girls as well. What are the things that she decided? And as she's a grandma now, what are the things she reflects on and what she taught us? And I thought maybe we could all learn from this conversation.

So I recorded it and I'm excited to share it with you. Take a listen,

maybe start by talking about. What your family looked like when you were growing up, give listeners a sense of where you're at in birth order, your siblings and your relationship with your mum. I listened to Janna and I first want to say that eating disorders are a big deal. And it can hit anybody at a lot of different ages. And I really respect the journey that she made and just the health that she got.

that's a really big deal. So I was one girl in, I had four brothers, two older and two younger. I had a really.

Wendy: Childhood my mom and my dad worked hard. I grew up on a farm, had a really loving church family that I felt very secure in. I had a lot of cousins and my mom, a lot of her sisters lived around there. So we got together a lot. It was real common for my mom to have coffee klatches then she would make coffee cake and my aunts would come over and I couldn't remember.

You were my first born and I can remember taking you up there. It's a little baby. And my aunts, I go to mom's coffee klatches and it was so fun and just centering a lot of our relationships around food, like our get togethers where we'd make food. And my dad would come in from the field and he was hungry and my mom would have a roast and she always had like good food.

And it was just the culture of food in my life was like, lovely. It was. Very fun. It wasn't something that I thought about a lot. Loved meals. I loved being around the table and I loved the conversation. And then as I grew up, I loved being with my mom in the kitchen. So I think My parents never made me feel like I was not enough, or like I had to change something about myself.

Tiffany: I want to go back a little bit to specifically, we talked about food being the center of the household, just as it relates to like entertainment and community and experiences, a lot happened around food.

What was your mom's relationship with like food and her own body image? And what part of that did you mirror to Brandy and I. And what part were you intentional about changing the narrative on a.

there's different body types. There's curvy, there's straight and there's athletic.

Wendy: So my mom is a ginger  and I would say, she's curvy. And I'm just more straight. I'm not athletic and I'm not curvy. So I just recognize it as a young girl. My mom would say, oh, your hair is so pretty. It's you've got black hair, like your dad's.

And I think that she would point out the differences in us and we always laugh at her because she's always, oh, look up my fat arms, but she just. Find a purse off a little bit and in a way, but I know that she also felt really good about herself in that, especially as a teenager, she was drum majorette and she was a beautiful redhead.

She got a lot of attention for that, but I think that something naturally happens as you get older. And I could see it happening with my mom is that sometimes there's this struggle with your body changing and getting older and we don't look the same. As we did when we were 16 or 25 or whatever, but I looked at her and I thought, I still think she's beautiful.

She's 90. And I remember when you were little, there was this advertisement for oil of LA used to be a thing. My mom used it. She still does. And there was this little contest and they were looking for the most beautiful woman in the world and a little boy. Sent in this letter that the most beautiful woman in the world, he described her and it was his grandma.

and it was just all about her heart and who she was. And I just, I thought that's who I want to be. I care about my looks like I love beauty and I think you girls are beautiful and I love nice clothes. Design and decorating, but all of that just seems flat if you're sitting around and your plastic inside.

Wendy: So there's just things about like how I see. Life like how God made us to love food and how he made us to eat food and to enjoy it. Like sometimes we just turn things so upside down. And honestly, when you think about your best friends and the people that you love, you don't think about. How they look, do you think about their laugh? You think about all the things, how they make you feel, So I think that my mom, in, in how she portrayed food, she was a really good cook, I think because our bodies were so different. It caused me as a little girl to see that and be okay with it.

Tiffany: Generally speaking, we don't usually care what other people look like, unless it's like your spouse or something. so I think that's fairly universal, but you can tell somebody that, but it's still not usually how we experience ourselves.

I think it's utopic to imagine that's the way that we see ourselves as through the lens of our laugh and our heart. It's like we do tend to see ourselves physically. And I think from a lot of women, it's a journey to not start with first seeing ourselves critic.  I love the sentiment of it.

And I think that realistically, I think there's something between you and grandma and the sense of you and grandma's body types are very different. You and I's body types. I think actually people would say are the same, but in fact, I think they're actually really different. you did a good job of, I think recognizing that.

I remember when I was like in fifth and sixth grade, my body was softer and you were really intentional about finding clothes that like, I think helped me look as good as I was going to at the time. And so at least felt really confident. I actually didn't realize probably really the way I looked, because you were able to help me find a way where I still felt like I looked really good.

And so I don't know if you remember those seasons, but my body type was really different than yours as a fifth and sixth grade girl. And so having kids whose body types are different than your own. I also think for some women, their kids being thin and fit can be important to them and not letting their own kids, his body do what it needs to do.

I don't know if you reflect on that or remember that, and some of the decisions that you made,

Wendy: and I think that people know what you're thinking about. Kids know what you're thinking about them as a parent, as a mom, how you're inside, how your deepest thoughts are of your children, it's going to come out.

So I think first you have to like, really think about that inside and. Are you thinking about that child? Was I thinking about you as a reflection of like me, I read a book once about discipline and it really was really powerful to me because in it, it said don't discipline your child because you're embarrassed of what they did and how it may reflect on what people think of you.

And I loved that because I thought we're on a team. Our family is on a team, my children, and as a little family, I'm on your team. Your body type was different and I'm thankful that you felt what you felt because that's how I felt inside about you. I loved who you are as a little girl. And I knew that some of your friends like that there were differences in like your body types and stuff.

And because I was on your team, I wanted you to look and feel really, really cute. With your clothes and your body type, but it was also important to me that you were healthy. We had a swimming pool outside, you guys played outside, you rode bikes, you did things like that. But I think Tiffany, the balance of what you're feeling or what you felt as a little girl was How you knew, I really felt about you. So what I'm trying to say is I think that it's an adult problem. It's not necessarily a parenting problem.

It's an adult issue of like how we need to understand how we're feeling about our own health and how that child is not a reflection on us. That child is their own little individual.

Tiffany: I think the other thing that you taught me is that not every trend is for everybody, literally every body. So there's certain styles or certain designs that might be really popular and it might just look terrible on you and you just need to know that looks terrible on me.

That doesn't make my body bad. That makes that. Trent just does not look good on me. And so find the trend that does, if that's what you want to do. Or I know there's certain fabrics that like, my body just does not wear well and it's never going to, it's just not going to. And I just have to know that it wasn't, that my body was bad or that the clothes were bad or that the brand was good or the brand was bad or that the length was good to the length was bad.

It was. It didn't fit my body and the way that it was structured. And so how do you grandma says like dress to forget yourself dress in a way that you feel really comfortable and also learn what makes your body look good so that you can not make that war like more significant than it needs to be. I think that was something really practical.

And as I see. Like my older two girls have really different colorings, really different structures, really different, lots of things. There was more different than they are the same on any one topic in life. But I have started to teach them that, and I hear that coming out in my own parenting. It doesn't make it good or bad.

It just makes it not a fit for you. Then I think you did a really good job of that too.

One of the things I also want to address, cause I asked you about this recently, my oldest is almost 13 and this balance between.

Tiffany: Wanting kids to understand like the fundamentals of like nutrition, a three inch slice of cheese has way more calories in a three inch slice of banana without needing to have a 13 year old feel like they have to count their macros or something ridiculous. But like, how do you create some contextual awareness?

That if you eat a whole bag of Peapods fine, whatever. But if you eat a whole sleeve of Ritz crackers, like that is going to be really different for your body. And so outside of just like fruits and vegetables are good and the rest of it is not as good. I don't actually remember. How, or maybe I just naturally started to create like some awareness of serving sizes and labels and what had more density from a caloric perspective versus not because you do want your kids to be able to be informed so that they don't get to be adults and just literally have no idea, but I also don't want them to be burdened with having to care a lot.

You know what I mean? At 13 years old, I don't know if you remember. We're like, what advice do you have around that actually

Wendy: really loved this. I listened to focus on the family a lot when you kids were growing up, it's a Christian program that just talks about a lot of parenting issues and kids. And I got a lot of tips from there, but They talked about like, when your kid comes home from school and they can look at you and they can be super disrespectful, they'll say something that's mean to you, or you just feel disrespected at the time to come down on them is not right then.

Especially teenagers will do that because many times they are reflecting something that they felt at school. So they were hurt at school or something happened at school. They walk in the door, you are their safe spot. And so when you come home from work or whenever you see them first, they just unleash on you.

That may not be right at that moment to come back with them and come unglued and be angry back at them because they need to have a safe spot. It's not okay for them to disrespect you. So you come around this later, once you understand what the issue is. Teach respect, same way with food. When a kid is especially like 13, when there's just a lot of hormones going on and a lot of things going on the time to talk to them about food is not when they're just coming in from swimming lessons or from something where they've been super active and they're going for a big bowl of ice cream, they're starting right.

Then the time to talk about food is like, when you. In the grocery or when they get home from another situation. And you're just like all more casual around the table when your table has all kinds of good food on it. And you've got the green beans and pea pods, and it's the majority of their time, what they're eating, not that moment when they come home and they have.

I could just eat everything in the cabinet. So I think that was like the thing with you, kids that I tried to do is our meals were good. We tried to have like balanced meals in, and that tasted good to you. And you had a lot of different flavor profiles that you enjoyed and not think that I like got on you if like I had just made a bunch of cookies and I don't think that's.

Tiffany: I'm laughing, smiling, because if you ask my girls what I grew up on, they would say carbs, cheese, chicken, and casserole. I don't know if that's true, but that is their articulation of my country upbringing is that all we ate is potatoes and things covered in cheese, which is a little bit true.

Wendy: But years ago it has changed a little bit.

Yeah, I did garden. I had a lot of garden vegetables.

Tiffany: I think one of the things you taught me too, that I see play out like really practically, is that what I have out, they will eat. So if I wash and cut a bunch of vegetables and put them on the counter, With a bowl of hummus. That's what they'll clear out.

They'll eat at all. I joke. I buy an extra bag of grapes every time I get groceries. Cause I know if I wash it in a strainer and just leave it there, like they will literally eat the whole thing while we're putting groceries away. Like I know those are like, I'm going to say like trigger times and they just, the food is fun.

That's all coming in and they eat it. I can direct them in those ways or when we were going through COVID and quarantine, I knew they were going to want to snack all day. And so I would like really intentionally put things out that I knew would be healthy for them. And that you can experiment as a parent, like literally put out a bowl of Cheetos and a bowl of M and M's and they will eat that too.

So in those ways, I feel like I've indirectly been able to help them make good choices. And I don't mean to be like, I know if they go to a friend's house and eat 47 pounds of crap, I don't really care, but I do want to help them create a palette and habits and like satiation that's around healthy food, because I think that will serve them in the long run and not having so much to chase down when it comes to creating just like a really healthy, natural kind of subconscious relationship with them.

Wendy: As a whole, I love nutrition. I was in nutrition for awhile and I'm a registered nurse. I understand all this. One of the things I really get nervous about is when people talk about diets a lot, because really food should be a lifestyle. And what you said is just so important because I mean, chocolate chip cookies are great.

You know, we have grandkids and I just love. Making cookies with them, but it's not our lifestyle. Like the lifestyle is what you just said is like putting out the fresh vegetables and doing that the majority of time. And I think it takes the pressure off of these kids when we're not constantly on them about the one bad thing that they had. We all have like our little thing, but it's not the majority of what we eat.

Tiffany: I think there's some interesting things around that because you are right. Literally zero times have memory of you saying you were on a diet thinking about diet. It's just literally was not part of your vocabulary. I as an adult in some ways can point to that and say like, well, it's kind of a natural part of your body makeup is that you haven't been to a place where, like you had 25 pounds that you were carrying around.

That was like, I gotta get rid of this.maybe you did after babies and stuff. I don't know. I don't ever remember you like your weight. Is within seven, I dunno, like four pounds. I know it's like a very tight window, which is not most people's reality. but for me, after I have babies, like it is a project I like talk about so much because I hate it so much. but it is something I have to be very intentional about and seasons with the way my body is made. If I am going to not have just a net gain over my period of my life, especially after I have kids.

So I don't know what your reaction is to that, but I think some of it is I had the luxury of growing up with a mom whose natural body chemistry did not gain a lot of weight. Fast. And so the gift of that is that I did not grow up in a strong diet culture at all. And so I don't have a point of reference for that, but I also just want love consciousness and sensitivity.

That's like my body type, for instance, I don't think the girls will say I went on a lot of diets, but I'll sometimes like, they'll, they're like, are you still eating? They'll say things like that. And I'm like, no hand me an Oreo it's over or whatever. But sometimes I'm like, yeah, I'm not getting ice cream.

And they'll be like, why not? It's because I'm not eating sugar right now. So I don't know. Maybe that's bad that they. I don't think it's bad or good. It's just different because they will say sometimes mom was on a diet. I think I don't use those words, but I expect their deduction as adults will be. Yeah. Sometimes mom was on a diet

Wendy: after I had Brett, I did have some weight to lose. So you just don't remember that.

but I also think that. One of the ways that I've always looked at it. Health and our bodies is it has to be something that's consistent.

Wendy: And when I was in AdvoCare, I was, I learned a little bit more from trainers, just like how your body works and how your muscles work and that there's never a point when you can stop gaining weight. And just how yourselves turnover and just, it's just like mercy knew that we can help ourselves be healthy as, or we can do our part things in life that happen.

And it's no fault of our own cancer or just like different diseases. And, but if we can do a piece of that, like consistently it's really important. So I think Tiffany, that. I love it that you say sometimes you don't do sugar. I do the same thing. There's times when I'm like, you know what? I just felt gross.

I just need to drink more water. It's just a constant. But I think this is it's surprising to me that as a whole people don't think about having to take care of their body. Like, we just expect them to just run and there are so intricate and there's just, there's so much about them. That is just so fascinating.

Amazing. But we don't think about it in a healthy way of consistently taking care of them. So I remember thinking to myself one time, I had ordered something in a restaurant and asked them to like, hold the butter off of the salmon and to just like the steam, my vegetables, and sometimes I'm embarrassed to do that because I get these comments.

I'll be like, why are you doing that? Like you're thin in my head. My third first thought was. That's why I'm thinking. That's like, why part of that is like in the whole solution is like just consistently doing that. Cause there's so many options that are delicious that you can do if you just learn a little bit about it and like just what you said about learning, about how to dress your body, like how to like, think through that a little bit, if there's a problem and you find yourself thinking about it or.

Either. You're thinking about yourself too much and you just need to get over it. There's things I need to accept about myself as who God made me and how I am that you can feel comfortable with yourself. And sometimes you just need to talk to your friend about that or.

If it's fitness or, but just being consistent and like killing yourself and having mercy with yourself and just enjoying like the process of getting healthy. And I think I do enjoy the process of getting healthy.  finding solutions like that.

Tiffany, I think over the long haul is really powerful.

Tiffany: So on the podcast, we talk a lot about fear, this idea of scare confident. What's your perception of what the underlying fear is. As you look across a young girls that you've mentored and also raising two girls, how would you articulate the underlying fear that is behind this door?

Wendy: I think that the fear for me is when I'm around the wrong people, when my, what my triggers are is if I'm tired, Or I'm feeling lonely or somehow I'm got myself into a position where I'm depleted either spiritually or mentally, or just need to be around friends. And then I think that the fear is that you can't climb out of it.

And so you have to grab onto something. So what would that be? It becomes like a place in a wrong area. Trying to get out of it yourself somehow. So for me, it didn't come into losing weight, but because I'm competitive, it comes into performance. So I would want to please, people I'd want to like, do something really great.

So I think it's putting your energy into pulling out of whatever it is that you're needing. For me when I know that I feel that I can feel my triggers. I can. I know when I'm feeling insecure about it. I know that I need to like back up and quiet down and I need to like start pouring good things into me.

Wendy: Good people get back into the word, find out where like my inner core instruction. But I think that we stay in fear when we think that we're the ones that has to fix it alone. It takes us back into this lonely cycle. Another thing I've learned too is different seasons of life can present different things.

There's nothing so sure has changed. And so change can be difficult for women in. I remember at different seasons of when you went off to college or there's just like real things that moms will fear, there's just worries or whatever you want to call it. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and feeling that great big anxiousness or that fear.

And I, one night thought, I'm just going to look into this. What is this? What is this big hole that I'm feeling? What is this? And not being afraid of it, not being afraid to look at it and to name it. And when you can name it, that's how we get out of it.


Special for me to have this conversation with my mom is that in so many ways she's been a silent champion for all the different things that I've done and tried, et cetera. And so for her voice, literally, to be able to be part of this project is really special and an experience that we'll always have.

So I really love that. as I reflected on our conversation and realized in an environment where there is so much body image pressure on women, either that we put it on ourself or we extract it from the world. And then my mom literally never talked about being on a diet, like literally never used the words.

And I never saw her like restrain what she had on her plate. Like, I'm sure she was restrained, but it was never a focal point in my relationship with her or in the way I observed her relationship with our surroundings or our dinner table or. Literally cooked and baked all the time when we were kids.

Yeah. we were able to do that in a way that was really celebrate Tory and healthy. And so that's really exceptional. And as I think about those moments that are very normal in our household today, making sure that I'm telegraphing to my girls, that these are just normal things and not, I don't know, making a big deal out of things and just going about making wise choices and letting those stand and not needing to be.

Obsessive about it in any way. And I don't know. I think there was a real carefulness. It was almost addition by subtraction in that just not being a thing that really, I think, created a groundwork for me to have a really healthy relationship with food, which can be hard. As somebody who's sort of always striving for the next level and everything in their lives.

I feel really grateful that that is not a battle. I have to constantly fight personally. And I think a lot of it is due to this sort of addition by subtraction and my mom. Drawing attention to that.

The other thing I'm really, I really took away that I think is powerful is that it can feel efficient in the moment to like punish or bring up or sort of fight your kid. When they're heated. She talked about. If you see them housing and all a bunch of ice cream, like it's just not the moment it makes them embarrassed. It makes them defensive. You don't usually eat a carton of ice cream because you're in a great, happy, you know, it's like, or maybe they're trying to celebrate whatever it is you're taking away that moment from them.

And it is going to. Likely be a battlefield versus just a really rational conversation. And I think removing that conversation, being intentional at like before bedtime, or if you're on a walk or otherwise in a place of reflection, asking your kid like, Hey, can I share an observation that I had about something I saw?

I want you to have a healthy relationship with food and. Let's talk about this. How did you feel afterwards? Would you make that decision again or the other ways that you can experience sort of delight or excitement without it being. And engaging in the conversation, not in the moment I thought was really wise.

And I know as a busy parent, it can feel efficient. This is sort of like nip it in the bud or whatever we say to just sort of deal with it in that moment. And not that there was a lot of wisdom and making sure it wasn't charged so that you don't make this a bigger deal than it needs to be.

I think even as an adult, my mom talking to me about how, not every. Outfit is for everybody. And I still tell myself that there's certain things I would love to wear, and it just doesn't look good on me. And I will recite to myself, like not every outfit looks good on everybody, and that is just not a thing I can wear.

And I think having that tool makes you not go through the cycle of just feeling like, kind of stupid and defeatist. It's like silly that an outfit or something can have so much. But when you know those guidelines, it just sets me up for success in ways that it doesn't have to take so much capacity, honestly, to just kind of where the thing that works.

And I know somebody joke, like you literally have to have every color of blazer in the world and it's like, I kind of do, because I just know they look good. Like, I just know I can wear a blazer. I have broad shoulders. I have a really square waist. It kind of makes me look like, and I just can't. And I know it.

And so. And I have a lot of them because I know it works on my body and that is like kind of a formula of sorts that makes it just really simple for me to have some diversity, but also know that that outfit formula works well for my body. And so like, let's just do it super hard. So that is an example of what. I think my mom helping me learn how to dress my body or really has given me tools as an adult.

It made me laugh when I heard my mom say, well, what if you are ugly? And I think no matter how beautiful. You are or not. We all have seasons in our lives where we feel really ugly. So irrespective of how maybe objective people would score you.

We all have seasons where we still have to be really high functioning, even when we feel really ugly. And I think. Realizing when we're focusing on our bodies and our food and all of that to an unhealthy level, it reduces our capacity to be able to give and be available to other people. It just does. And sometimes you do just have to say to yourself, I mean, maybe I'm just ugly and you just still have to roll through it.

In a way that it doesn't steal your life and steal your joy and steal your time and steal your capacity because then you really miss out on a lot. And I think I observed that in myself. When I become really focused on my physical body, it really takes away your attention from the people and the impact and the real experiences of life.

Our body is not a life experience that things it gets to do is, and so. I think to me, there's a bigger lesson in that joke of, well, what if you are ugly? Because some times that's actually what we are. And we still, I think deep inside of us want to find the capacity to be able to give through that.

I hope my girls hear or experience from me as their mom. How authentically loved my chubby 12 year old self felt loved. My mom talked about actually seeing your kids. As beautiful makes it much easier to show them love in that way. And I hope that whether it'd be my kids, his physical being, or their behavior, that they always experience my love as if I see them as beautiful.

So what else is on your mind? Text me 3, 1 7. 3 5 0 8 9 2 1 3 1 7 3 5 0 8 9 2 1. And be sure to follow along on your favorite podcast app. Thanks for listening today. .

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