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Monday, July 18, 2011

"Normal" Eating?

I was raised by an anorexic/bulimic. This isn't a secret, and if my mother read this, she would agree. Her mother was also an anorexic, and felt she was overweight at 90 lbs. My mother knew the ins and outs of her eating disorders before I was even born. It was so not a secret, in fact, that she explicitly inducted me into the club as a pre-teen (or as they are called now, "tween"). She taught me, in clear language, that "this is what women do": diet to be thin, purge if necessary. I don't think this would have come to me naturally without coaching; I was and am much more prone to simple overeating. But this was my instruction, and I followed instruction until I realized that it was making me sick and miserable. This was around age 16.

Now I am raising my own daughter. She is only 9 months old, but I realize that she is already learning how to eat from me. She has been slow to take to solids, and it became clear early on that she was mostly interested in things she could hold herself, and things that her dad and I were eating. No baby food or purees for her. She wants real stuff. She often isn't interested in food at all, anything I offer her, so we skip a lot of "meals" since she is getting her nutrition from formula still. At least once a day I put her in her high chair and eat a meal with her, but it's rarely 3 times a day.

This isn't just her, though. I don't really eat "meals" when left to my own devices. Since I was banded, it seems like so much trouble to go through to prepare a meal for just myself when I'm only going to eat a cup or so of food. It's a lot easier to pick something out of the fridge that will keep me satisfied for the next several hours. And lately, those choices have not been particularly band-wise.

I realize this isn't normal. And while in a lot of ways it makes sense for me, my daughter is not banded. If she is lucky, and has good, healthy instruction in childhood, she will never need to consider something like that. But how do I teach her normal attitudes about food? How can I teach her how to choose a normal, healthy meal when I don't really know what that is myself?

My mother cooked meals for us, don't get me wrong. There were plenty of nights we ate out, or ate TV dinners, but usually she cooked dinner, we almost always had a packed lunch, and sometimes on weekends she would make breakfast. She is a good cook. And I give her a lot of credit for feeding us healthy foods and not letting us become picky eaters. We always had a good variety of foods, and when I ate with friends, I was always the least picky eater of the bunch.

I don't know why I have this aversion to preparing meals on a regular basis. I do, but I don't understand it. But I'd like to overcome it and teach Lucy healthy attitudes about eating. I think it is probably "normal" to have parents who cook or prepare most of your meals, to usually eat at least one meal together, and to eat sitting down, slowly. Not scarfing down something over the sink (I do that regrettably often). It's "normal" (I think) to learn when you are full and not be forced or cajoled into eating more than that amount. It's "normal" to mostly eat freshly prepared food (that is, not packaged/store bought/restaurant food) and to have sweets only "occasionally" rather than with every meal or every snack. Am I right? Am I missing anything here?

I don't eat normally. My husband doesn't either; we both are in the habit of grabbing something when we are hungry. He is better about it being something healthy than I am. He is more of a cook than I am, especially an everyday cook. But maybe I could make some sort of list of eating goals, and work toward them slowly, with a goal of modeling more "normal" eating than I had modeled for me? (Because, despite all those home-cooked healthy meals, the majority of the eating that took place in our house was anything but normal.)

1. Cook dinner at home most nights.
2. Eat a variety of vegetables and proteins
3. Have fruit instead of sweets
4. Prepare healthy breakfasts at home (this I'm reasonably good at, especially hot cereals)
5. Eat slowly, at the table

Those seem like pretty normal goals. Any other bandster parents have comments to add? I have an opportunity to break or diminish the cycle, as my daughter is still a baby. I don't want to screw it up.

1 comment:

Amanda Kiska said...

Those sound like great goals! As your daughter gets older, she will "force" you to change your habits somewhat. She will get hungry at mealtimes (and between meals) and you will want to prepare a healthy meal for her instead of just giving her a snack food. I'm sure you won't screw it up at least not more than the way we all unintentionally screw up our kids - LOL.