One of my biggest fears about having a daughter has been passing along my food issues to her. Though I’m long past my dark days of disordered eating, I still think a lot about food and fitness quite a bit (and still journal) and though they don’t plague me, I still emotionally eat from time to time and still have “fat” days. Even though I know I’m not actually “fat,” I certainly have some weight to lose to get to my feel-best weight/size and I will eventually …
[Sadly, even an upcoming Caribbean trip this spring isn’t enough to get me to the gym regularly again and off the sweets. <<Sigh>> One of these days I’ll get it together…]
Anyway, yesterday I had to catch myself when I saw Maya’s daily log at school.
You see, she is eating breakfast and lunch provided by daycare now and the choices I circled for her were things that were still soft or easy to mash with just two teeth. She has liked nearly everything they’ve served and it’s good because she is exploring new tastes and textures–which I’m all for.
Well, yesterday it said she had eaten tater-tot casserole (which, IMO, sounds gross), peas and pineapple for lunch … with a note that said “I had seconds!” with a smiley face from her teacher.
While most parents would be beaming, “My toddler had seconds!” I couldn’t help but think, “Did she need seconds?”
And then I had to
slap stop myself.
I needed a reality check: Seconds at one meal (or even several meals) is not going to predispose a growing baby Maya to a lifetime of obesity. It wasn’t seconds of candy or cookies or cake … it was seconds of her lunch! And furthermore, babies have the most intuitive sense of eating there is — when they’re done, they’re done … be it after two bites or two dozen.
I realized I was letting my own issues interfere with how I reacted to something totally else. And it really got to me and I was pretty mad at myself for the thoughts afterwards. I mean, just because I can’t completely trust myself yet with food doesn’t mean Maya can’t be trusted. She knows herself best … though it’s a tough notion to wrap your head around. Babies have not been molded to think about food in any way other than “When I’m hungry, I eat.” (The counterpoint to “I’m hungry but my teeth hurt so I will throw a fit and NOT eat …”)
I guess I worry because though she measures on the petite side of the charts now, my husband and I both struggled with our weight a little as kids and I don’t want her to ever worry about it … but I also don’t want to give her a complex, either. Lord knows the media will do that anyway* …:( (Please see video below).
Intuitive eating is a really hard concept for me to grasp and I’m not sure if my disordered background magnifies my concerns, but I was wondering how other parents have come to trust that their kids will tell them when they’re done. Any tips are welcome … because this is only the beginning and I want Maya to have a healthy relationship with food. I want her to know if she is hungry, she can have more … without shame. Without judgment.
It’s something I’m going to need to work on for sure and I guess it’s a good thing I had the reality check now instead of when she is 13 … I just want her to be happy … and this means stepping back and letting her be, and not creating a problem out of nothing. If the doctor tells us he is concerned about her weight, we will talk. But til then … I need to just let her be, seconds and all.
How about you? As parents, has it been hard to genuinely let your kid tell you when they are full? How do you turn off the noise that screams to you about childhood obesity rates and not be caught up in the fear-mongering messaging?
**PLEASE check out this video … and help join the Miss Representation movement to end the media-driven exploitation of women — where women are seen as sex objects and nothing more, where their jeans size is more valuable than the size of their brains.
“The film explores how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in influential positions in America and challenges the media’s limiting and often disparaging portrayals of women, which make it difficult for the average girl to see herself as powerful.”