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My Mother, Food, and Aging

My mom is turning seventy in a few months. And increasingly, I find myself worrying about her eating habits as if she were a teenage girl. I don’t really know how to handle this.

She’s a beautiful woman, has been all her life, and in many ways has relied on this fact–once she discovered it–to shore up an ego that was reduced to tatters by a very traumatic childhood. We’re quite close, though we don’t get the chance to see each other as often as we’d like, and over the last fifteen years or so she’s talked to me a lot about her changing body and how she’s supposedly come to terms with it. To hear what she says directly about the issue of aging, it might sound like everything’s ok.


The subject of food, and whether she’s being "good" or "bad", comes up more and more often in conversations related to her mood. I should mention that my mom’s an outstanding, health-conscious cook and I’ve never seen her eat junk food in my life, except under duress when nothing else was available, so being “bad” implies what she considers to be overindulgence in foods that in and of themselves are healthy. Say, nibbling on nuts, or cheese. Or having an extra glass of wine (she doesn’t have an alcohol problem). My mother is thin. Very thin. She has a thicker waist than she used to, but she’s a seventy-year-old woman, for crying out loud. ...