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.”


9 thoughts on “Seconds

  1. Nate’s a boy, but I still deal with this. His weight has always been above average where his height is closer to average so I am constantly in fear that he’s on the road to obesity since it runs in the family and Tom and I aren’t great examples of healthy eating. But you HAVE to trust that they know when they’re hungry and when they’re not. Nate currently is refusing to eat dinner several times a week, including food he previously loved. It’s so hard to let him leave the table without eating, but I do not want to “force” him to eat and begin breaking his relationship with food. And I also don’t want to start catering to his demands. “Oh, you want animal crackers instead of tacos? Sure!” I’m kind of at a loss and just playing it by ear right now, day by day.

    You know when I totally understand intuitive eating? On a busy day, when I’m so happily busy that I don’t have time to think about food. All of a sudden I think, “Oh, I *feel* a little hungry” at which point I usually eat just enough to be satiated and then go on with whatever I’m doing. On a day like that, sometimes I eat 1/4 of what I eat on a “normal” day because I know I eat out of boredom, anxiety, etc.

    Oh, and don’t knock tater tot casserole. It’s seriously scrumptious. Even my health-obsessed brother has an appreciation for it (although he only lets himself eat it once or twice a year, lol). 🙂

    1. I know, I totally do need to trust her … and you’re right, too, we don’t want them turning into little czars/czarinas, either … oy. Yea, it’s rare I actually feel “hunger” … save for first thing in the morning. I’m working on that … ;-/

      LOL…I have never liked tater tots .. .even at school as a kid, I never chose them at lunch. Something about the texture … french fries, on the other hand? … yes please 😉

      She also had seconds recently of beef stroganoff, which I also found amusing b/c it’s something I just would never cook or think to make. Nothing wrong with it, per se, just not something that would cross my mind! Let alone for a baby!

      1. I love the visual of a bunch of toddlers eating beef stroganoff. hehe… just sounds like the toddler version of lunch at the Russian Tea Room or something. 🙂

  2. Aww, hugs. You’re doing a great job by acknowledging this now. I’m kind of glad I have a boy because I still feel disordered a good amount of the time. But, like you, I don’t want to convey any of that negative emotion to food to him. He is really, really picky and doesn’t always eat the healthy options I’d prefer but I figure that will come with time. I honestly wish I would have pushed a little more on things when he was younger and not now, when he’s much more vocal about his dislikes.

    I struggle more with wanting him to eat more, instead of less. I had/have this problem with needing to clean my plate and he rarely does that. We instead get into a negotiation about how many bites but I talk a lot to him about food as fuel and helping to make him strong and therefore, the choices he makes are important. I think slowly, he’s getting that but it will take a long time.

    I also don’t like to pay attention to a lot of that type of media. I acknowledge it exists but I don’t let it influence much of how I work with my child with re: to eating.

    1. Thanks, Stac. I am sure we will hit that picky stage too — it seems to happen to every kid but I’ll just keep trying if it happens. That’s great he can understand the concept now of food as fuel — I think that will translate well with him as he is an athlete.

  3. meliss-i struggle with this too and I totally don’t want Noa to have the same issues I had for as long as I can remember. However, she seems to be developing a pattern… doesn’t really eat meals sometimes! snacks on something, begs for more (so I give her more b/c I think she is hungry), and when dinner rolls around she eats 2 bites. This happened today and partly I blame myself b/c I gave her a snack while we were shopping to keep her entertained and she had like 2 bites of dinner and refused the rest of it. BUT, I figure she is eating when she is hungry and so I guess I just have to follow that. And as long as I try to set up some good habits like sitting down for a meal, offering balanced meals nutritionally, etc. it’s the best we can do. I totally know how you felt when you saw “She ate seconds!” because I have felt that way too like,”ooh, is she eating too much? Did she need another helping?” hey, we are doing the best we can and being aware of our issues w/food will help us instill good eating habits, hopefully!

    1. Thanks, honey! I know you get it, too. I guess all we can do is just our best … and hope they turn out OK! 🙂 I know sitting down to a meal is our biggest challenge — she wants to go, go, go, and sees us eating a snack on the go (even an apple) and wants to eat whatever we are eating … but I’d like her to associate meals with the kitchen … not the couch!

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