In the first part of this series we established your need for a do-over.
But why do you want to even worry about it? After all, this is how your parents did things with you and you turned out just fine, right?
But did you really?
Stay with me here.
Let me ask you some questions about your own relationship with food and your own ability to tune in to your body signals…
In general, do you…
Feel like you recognize hunger (if you don’t typically recognize that you’re hungry until you’re ravishingly hungry such that you feel like you could eat everything in sight, then answer no here)?
A yes here is a good sign of a healthy relationship with your body signals for hunger. It indicates you have a solid trust in your body to tell you what it needs, and your body trusts you to respond.
A no here indicates a possible disconnect between you and your body. This disconnect can happen when you eat for reasons other than internal signals of hunger, and instead respond to external signals like time of day or because someone told you that you should be hungry (as is the case in many parent-child relationships). Eating for external signals rather than internal signals errores your trust in yourself. And in the case of our kids, it may never get off the ground.
Honor your hunger by eating when you recognize it (if you make yourself wait until a more acceptable or planned time to eat, then answer no here)?
Eat food sometimes simply for the pleasure of it (if you have to convince yourself to like something because it’s supposed to be healthy for you then answer no here)?
Do you allow yourself to have any food you want (if you have any off-limits foods you don’t eat because you don’t trust yourself to stop eating them then answer no here)?
A yes to any of these indicates a desire to and a belief that you deserve good self care. Whether you’re caring for your hunger or allowing yourself joy in food and the memories it can bring, you are showing yourself love because you believe you are worthy of it.
A no here can signal problems with your self esteem or that you don’t feel you deserve to eat when you’re hungry. It may be a sign of poor body image or a belief that you’re not good enough the way you are so you feel the need to manipulate your eating to change yourself.
Recognize when you’re full?
Stop eating when you’re full (if you recognize that you’re full but regularly continue to eat past or through it to the point of being overstuffed and uncomfortable or if you won’t stop eating because you don’t want to waste food, answer no here)?
A yes to these questions shows that you are solidly in tune with your body and make positive choices to listen to those signals.
A no here demonstrates a strained relationship between your choices and your body. This relationship could be strained due to problems with self esteem or could be indicative of never having learned how to recognize those signals.
So how did you do?
How do you think your child would answer these questions? All of the explanations given above are reasons to ensure your child is able to answer yes to these questions.
I want to take a minute here to help you recognize your humanity in this to help put your mind at ease. After all, my goal is not to be like diet culture and fear monger you into any of this.
Collectively as a society, we have created this thing called diet culture. I‘ll dive deep into what that is and how much I hate it in another article on another day, but for our purposes here today I want to be brief. Diet culture is
So when you identify as a mom who has spent your child’s life dictating their every food move, you’re not alone. Take me for instance. Three of my kids are grown adults now. I not only dictated their food relationships as their mom, but I backed it up as a dietitian who TAUGHT others how to do it. Talk about guilt! I’m certainly not downplaying your own guilt and emotions over this. I think it’s important we all own our shit and deal with it. But I do think it’s important to do so gracefully. We really are all just doing the best job we can using the tools we have been given. It’s honestly NOT our fault to have grown up in the diet culture we did.
So now that you know better, the question becomes what are you going to do about it? I’ve outlined a couple of the first steps you can take over in “The Do-Over: Feeding Your Kids the Intuitive Eating Way (part 3 of 3).”