As my picky toddler grows, he’s taught me a thing or two and redefined my relationship with food.
It’s clear we were born with this innate ability to stop when we’re full; but as we get older, we lose sight of that. Taste, experiences, smells and other factors shape what and how we eat. I love food and I love to cook, but I no longer just eat because I’m hungry.
Think back to when you were a child at the dinner table, and your parents served something you just couldn’t stomach and then made you eat it because you’re not supposed to waste food. Well, at least that was my experience. And today, it takes a whole lot of psychological willpower to leave a plate with food on it. Even if I’m stuffed I will finish what I’m served. This is a problem and a point of contention I’m working on in my life. It’s just not healthy.
But, when you become a mother, things get a little worse for “clean plate” folks. You suffer from a little disease I call the “double clean plate” syndrome. You’re feeding your toddler and you suddenly find yourself eating whatever they didn’t because you were taught not to waste food.
I’m trying to get back to that natural system of hunger discernment and it’s extremely hard. Questioning why you eat is like a game … the hunger game. I am so out of touch with the real feeling I can barely tell the difference between thirst and hunger.
So how am I supposed to continue to nurture my son’s ability to realize hunger, when I eat because I’m bored, happy, sad or stressed (desserts spelled backwards … mmmm)!
Along with teaching children to eat healthy food, I think it’s very important to make sure they don’t lose the ability to recognize hunger and separate it from the many other reasons why we eat when we become adults.
I’m learning to let my son tell me when he’s hungry. In the meantime I’m learning how to do it again, too.