Monday, October 29, 2012

Motherhood - My Biggest Fear Around Food

Being someone who struggles with eating and food, I have a lot of fear around what I am teaching my little bean.  I haven't yet mastered the skills of normal eating and yet, I have to find a way to teach them to my son. 
These are the things I feel I do well:
  • Introducing him to new foods as much as possible
  • Not putting a value judgement on what he eats (or doesn't eat)
  • Letting him try or not try whatever he wants
  • Being unemotional about his food intake
Things I need to work on:
  • I don't sit down with him as much as I want to and I am still working on preparing dinner early enough so we can all eat it together.
  • Sometimes I do give him processed foods like chicken nuggets but I figure, I don't want to be the food police and he likes them so, why not?  Plus they are convenient!
But my biggest fear and the thing that I have the hardest time not doing is giving him food to soothe him or bribe him.  If he is upset, it's crazy how my first instinct is to grab a snack and put it in front of him!  I KNOW this totally goes back to my own issues and my own upbringing.  It's amazing how ingrained this is in me.  And since it is so ingrained, I do it without thought.  That is the scariest part. 

At the same time, the fear can sometimes lead me to eat!  Ah the cycle of emotion.  So two things to work on.  Mentioning it here will help me notice it when it happens so I can try another soothing technique.

The thing that's coming up for me now is realizing that by bribing or soothing him with food, I am teaching him to stuff down his emotions with food.  I can't tolerate his emotion, much the same way I can't tolerate my own, and I am then teaching him that the only way to cope is with food. 

Oh man.  That is heavy, no?

So what to do?  I want to:
  • Learn to tolerate his emotion (it's okay, and even necessary for him to feel a  full range of emotions, it's totally normal and important for him to feel many things)
  • Find ways besides food to help him cope with his emotion (singing a song, hugging him, mirroring his emotion, showing understanding)
  • Realize that I don't need to stop him from having emotion, I can just let it ride until it passes, which it WILL
  • Just be there with him, helping him feel
Wow, this has been eye-opening.  It's larger than just soothing or bribing him with food.  Definitely an area worth my time and effort.

What are your biggest fears about food and your family?

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