6 times I wished I talked about food differently in front of my kids
And a few times I was proud...
Last week I read this excellent post byfor about how to talk to kids about food when your own relationship with food is fraught.
“One of the greatest challenges for those of us who struggle with food and our bodies is the ambiguity of the problem: when does “watching what you eat” or “getting healthy!” become an eating disorder?,” asks. “I don’t know what that point is and, more importantly, neither does much of the scientific or medical community. The gaps in research and treatment are astonishing, and it’s why we, as parents, need to educate ourselves and intervene early on.”
Eating disorders peak during adolescence and onset as early as age 5, but, can persist into one's 80s — meaning It’s never too early to develop, and it’s never too late to relapse. And, one thing I’m passionate about changing, is the fact that there’s no standard of care for eating disorders in the U.S. — treatment isn’t regulated, and some of what I’ve seen out there seems ineffective, or worse, like it does more harm than good.
Asputs it, “It’s really hard to get better.”
“So what can we do?,” she asks. “As parents, there’s so much we can’t control, but we can start the conversation and act as goalies for the outside messages our children hear. Categorizing foods as “good” or “bad” is the on-ramp to restriction, dieting, and bingeing. (Virginia Sole-Smith offers excellent tips on having these conversations.)”
After finishing up the read, I immediately tallied up a list of things I regret saying about food, even while being painfully aware of how important getting this conversation “right” is. I’m not sharing my list to shame myself, but to call attention to these little but impactful things we might be saying that stick in our kids’ heads.
Some of it’s silly. Most of it was said in a moment of desperation to get a certain result (a.k.a a kid that will go to sleep at a reasonable hour). All of it is very important, and at the same time, no one thing is going to fu*k up your kid for life.
6 times I slipped up food talk:
“Hide that candy cane from your sister it’s gonna make her crazy.” — me to my oldest, who was trying to cheer up her crying sister.
“No more muffins! We need to go back to our normal eating schedule!” — me, scolding grandma on the ride home from the airport when I took off my “cool parent” mask I had been wearing all of Thanksgiving vacation. Later, I felt like I had pulled the “fun” rug out from under her without telling her, sorry Mom!
“They don’t eat” — me, impulsively talking about my kids in front of them, to get ahead of the moment when they spend the entire dinner running around instead of at the table. I guess I do this in an attempt to feel like a better parent, but it never works.
“One more bite” — me, every damn dinner. I know it’s not DOR, but it works in the moment, and by 6:30 most nights I only have one thing on my mind: bedtime…
“I replaced the butter with coconut oil!” — me, at the preK potluck telling the other parents the chocolate chip pumpkin bread I made is “healthy!”
“Do you want a cookie?!” — me, a different time, trying to squash my kid’s sadness with some sugar, which I had just established to my older daughter would make her crazy.
And a few times I was proud:
“All foods are OK,” — me, answering my daughter, who asked for the 23443 time if it’s OK to eat sugar.
“Yes, but too much of anything will make you sick,” — me, answering my daughter who asked if strawberries were OK to eat after she puked from chugging her evening milk after eating an entire box of the fruit.
“This snack reminds me of being a kid, it makes me happy” — making chex mix with my daughter, showing her that emotional eating can actually be positive…I’m sorry but we’re not robots simply eating to fuel ourselves
“Of course, have as much as you want!” — me, letting my kids eat as much frosting and batter as they wanted while baking a birthday cake with grandma. There were no tears, and we created a beautiful memory.
Got any more slip-ups or proud moments to share? I’d love to hear about them! Remember to be kind to yourself, this parenting sh*t is HARD. And, you’re doing a great job.
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