Tuesday, March 16, 2010

will you just eat already?

As you may or may not know, I struggled with my weight for a long time. Like an entire decade. And considering I'm only 28, a decade is a LONG time. At my largest, I weighed in at 220 lbs. I looked like a swollen version of myself. Don't believe me? Look HERE.

Fortunately, I had a ton of self-confidence (and still do, in case you hadn't realized). I kind of had a take it or leave it attitude about my size. Either people were going to like me for who I was, or they weren't. I wasn't going to waste my time worrying about it. But then something changed, well, two things really. I was getting married and wanted to look good AND my father passed away. The combination changed my perspective on how I should be living my life. I cut my portion sizes and upped the cardio. And slowly the weight came off (and has stayed off, other than during my pregnancies).

Currently, I am at a comfortable weight. It is one that I do not have to work hard to maintain. I eat freely (but wisely) and workout. I rarely weigh myself. I'm at a good place. I like to think that I set an excellent example for my children.

But my problem is that I don't know if just setting an example is enough. I am the mother of three beautiful little girls, who at some point, will be faced with real world opinions of what is beautiful. I want to stress the importance of health over the importance of weight. I don't want them to struggle the way that I did. I want them to make the right choices from the start. But how do you do that without doing harm? How do you stress that overindulgence isn't the best idea without making them think that overindulgence will make them fat? Or that not eating doesn't make you skinny, just unhealthy?

I'm already having food battles with my children. Most of these battles are the typical, "I'm a toddler, I'm going to do what I want" battles that everyone sees. But Dizzle is hitting me with a new one. And it scares me for the future. She will not eat. And if she does eat, she never finishes her serving. I can not understand this. I love food too much. I almost always clear my plate. I know she is hungry. She constantly asks for food. But we are having a power struggle. She wants control, but I am not about to give it up (this is what scares me the most, as I have heard that most eating disorders are rooted in control issues).

Basically, she wants to eat what she wants to eat when she wants to eat it. And I give her what she is allowed to eat, in amounts that are age appropriate, when I say it's meal time. If she doesn't eat her lunch, I offer what is left to her when she asks for a snack. And if she doesn't eat it then, she gets it for dinner. And if she still doesn't eat it, she goes to bed hungry. I HATE being harda**, but I don't want her to think that she can just get what she wants and I really want her to see the importance of eating for health. (I have caved on occasion and let her choose what we are eating, but the same thing happens) It's such an unnecessary struggle. I just wish I could get her to see that.

Any idea how I can just get her to eat already?

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26 comments:

misszippy said...

First of all, you looked good even at your heaviest. Now, you look amazing! Great job getting healthy. I think you are dealing with typical toddler behavior here with your daughter. Just keep putting the food out there and let her eat how much she wants.It's the power struggle she's after, so don't fight it. Once she sees there's no battle to win, she'll get on with eating. In the meantime, don't even worry about her nutrition--studies have shown that over the course of a week, most kids manage to eat the right combination of nutrients, provided they are offered them (which she is). Hope that helps.

Katie A. said...

I have some thoughts on this - maybe a too personal to leave here on the open comment section. You can email me if you like.
You look great - you always have - but like you, I know that now I am 1000 times more happy then when I was overweight and I really try to hold on to that.

Molly said...

Hmmmmm. I have a three year old girl, and five year old boy. I'm trying to find a balance in what they eat, and I agree it's not easy. I think your strategy of offering the leftover lunch for snack is good. I offer fruit and veg with each meal, and if they snack, if they want a cookie, I usually let them. I don't want to make a big deal of saying no, half the time they don't even finish it. I'm striving for everything in moderation.

Talitha said...

It's definitely a power struggle but like misszippy said, once Dizzle sees there isn't a battle to win she'll stop trying. What I've done with my daughter is to make it very clear that she has a choice. In this case, she can eat what you offer or not eat. I had a doctor tell me one time that it was perfectly okay to do this with my daughter, as kids will not naturally starve themselves. As long as they're growing and healthy, a little hunger won't hurt 'em!

shellyrm aka jogging stroller mama said...

First off, wow you still looked great at your heavy weight but I know that you probably feel better at the lighter weight.

I had an eating disorder when I was younger (although I do not believe that it is something that you ever 'get over'). For me it was about control and attention. Not that I wanted the attention being sickly thin got me, I just wanted attention. Young children wanted control. They all push the rules - some more than others. My middle one is heavier than I wish she were but I know that she is taking after her father's side of the family as far as body type and size. I do allow her quite often to choose what she has for meals. She is old enough that we discuss portions and food groups to make her aware of eating healthy. We stay active with loads of physical playing and gymnastics but I try to teach her to be healthly and happy and not so much be skinny or thin. It is hard to allow her to be heavier (well within medical weight range for her age) because I worry that it will allow her to see being heavier as ok. I worry more that she will be picked on by other kids (the ones without little belly pooches!).
It sounds like you are dealing with the same thing most moms deals with. The balance between teaching and showing them how to be active and healthy vs instilling a NEED to be THIN. I think this goes for son as well as daughters! But when you get that educated wonderful comment that answers what us moms should do, please post it so we all can KNOW we are getting it right! ;-)

Erica said...

I looooovveee your self confidence it rocks!!

That in itself is a good example for your girls! As a Mom of two little ladies I too fear for the future and what they will think is beautiful. In fact it is already a problem, strangers will say to Itty bitty how beautiful she is with her dark features, and not say anything to little missy, who is 3.5 and that really hurts her feelings!

Anyhow what I was gonna say is we battle food too, and my rule is that if they are not hungry I will not force them to eat, but I will save their plate, if they do not want their plate later they may choose a healthy snack....like fruit or veggies to munch on versus, goldfish or cookies....that way they are choosing but still making decisions I am happy with! I hope that helps some...toddlers can really be tough, I pretty much swear everyday that is why god made them so cute!

momof3 said...

I think the real key here has already been stated. If there is NO WAR, then there can be NO BATTLE.

And, when we went through this with C, ignoring the non-eating completely resolved it.... for the moment. My Ped & I know that this is going to come back and back and back again. It's HARD though.

I just remember feeling like I was going to explode. In my head I was screaming, "OMG_ she only ate TWO BITES!" and outwardly I was saying in a really cool chill voice - "Sure, you can be excused after you drink your milk" (that's the house rule, for everyone... we don't waste milk).

Jill said...

You truly look amazing, I admire your determination to make healthy changes for you and your family! Your wee-one is certainly testing her independence and what she can and cannot control. Right now she's controlling her food and seeing how far she can get away with it. A test. Remain strong! Your pediatrician is an excellent recourse to help these control issues, I know mine was on speed dial for a few years :). Hang in there!!

Sarah said...

First off, I love that you call her Dizzle. We often call my daughter B-rizzle. :)

Second, you have made such an amazing life change. You looked beautiful before and now you look even more so! Definitely a great example for your girls.

Third, having a little girl myself, I understand your thoughts. Luckily for us, Braedyn is a really good eater (takes after her mom) and pretty much eats the same meals we do with some added fruit usually. That said, on occassion I do sometimes add one special item of her choosing to her plate. Gives her some of the choice without having all of it. Hope it gets better for you!

Marlene said...

Wow, I had no idea that you struggled with your weight. Are we soul mates?? I'm 27 and also struggled with my weight for a good ten years. Heck, I am still struggling. I peaked around 210 (that was a size 18 for me) and I only recently achieved my all-time goal of 150 (size 8).

Good luck with the girls... I have no idea how to get little Dizzle to eat!

Kim said...

You've inspired me to post some things about my weight loss and my pre-marathoning weights sometime in the near future. I have a similar story as you.

Your struggles that you mention about how to address food issues with your kids is something that I've thought SO much about. I don't have kids, but I fear that I'll "screw them up" if I have them, and I really worry about the weight thing. I think I have a little more of a hang-up with food/weight than you do, though.

While I haven't read the books myself, I came across Ellyn Satter's books a few weeks ago, and they seemed like good resources. I did a little more research and they seem to get great reviews.
Here they are. They might be helpful. She also has some basic info on her website, including The Division of Responsibility in Feeding.

Erin G said...

I think you might be my new role model. You looked great at your heaviest, but now look like you were never like that. I peaked at 215, and have lost 40 lbs, but I am still looking to lose another 25. You are just such an inspiration and I think that your daughters will all see that.:)

Momma Twitch said...

The before and after pictures....amazing!

I feel your pain with the kiddo. My little girl's the same way. I pretty much do the exact same thing you do. I'm thinking it's just a phase. Good luck!

Anne said...

Actually, this is part of my work as a psychologist to help parents deal with this kind of situation. Remember that it's not about the food and letting go is your best bet. I'd love to give you more information. If you're interested, let me know and I'll give you my email address. Good luck with this.

onebadrunner said...

I haven't read your blog long but I'm guessing Dizzle is around 5 years old - based on the need to control and make decisions on her own.
What I've heard, used, and taught is that whatever behavior you spend your energy on is the behavior you are going to get in return - kinda like investing money. If you focus on her 'not eating' she may do more of that. Instead focus on what you want to see more of - healthy, exercise, fun, playfulness, happiness, etc. and I'm guessing that she will let go of that one area of control.
Good Luck! Those kids are tricky!

Robyn said...

Hmm, this is a hard one because I don't have kids. My mom let us eat pretty much whatever we wanted growing up (always a veggie at din though) and my sister and I just naturally made good choices. But we both struggle with our weight and issues about it and I think it's a lot more than what our mom wanted us to eat or not eat growing up. No matter what your positivity and healthy outlook is definitely going to be passed onto your girls and that's a great thing!

Judi said...

You look great!

I think you are touching on an issue that all moms are concerned about! I guess that is why my blog is focusing not only on myself but also on my family and how I am trying to help my them love to be active too. I don't want food to be a huge issue in their life. I strive to always have a lot of fresh stuff in our home. When we have treats we make homemade ones. I don't like to make them eat anything but they are required to try everything.

Maybe let your daughter decide one meal a week (or more) what is on the menu. Like you said she wants control so let her have some . . . let her plan the meal! :) Just an idea.

Cynthia O'H said...

Well done on your own control.

Kids are particular eaters. Like everything else, they do what feels right for them; otherwise, it can be a battle.

My two are picky eaters (they come by it naturally). Now 9 and 5, the oldest is starting to understand the importance of nutrition and eats because he has to - but he is also starting to make healthier choices on his own (I almost dropped last night when he asked for a plate of carrots to snack on). My youngest is still at the "I'll eat what I want stage".

I think what is important is that there isn't overindulgence in anything - offer choices. What you're doing now is great: eating right and modelling a healthy lifestyle. Kids do pick up on that - eventually.

kilax said...

I wish I had some input! I think you are doing the right thing just by being cautious of it and being a good role model. I wish my mother would have been!

ajh said...

You looked great at your highest weight. No wonder you had self confidence. I don't know about the eating issue. Have you talked to your pediatrician? I think you are right to worry about the control issues. I did have a friend whose daughter had an eating disorder in elementary school. Good luck.

runninaround said...

there is so much I could say about this and maybe we can talk in person about it in APRIL but coming from a girl who dealt with eating disorders for 5 years, and spent a year in treatment, you are not harming her at all. My eating issues definitely had to do with control but did not result from my parents controlling me food. What I mean is I was a picky eater. Still am. Terribly so and meal times were also battles (aka anything green on my plate was not going into my mouth). My parents basically did the same thing that you are doing. I was given a healthy meal and I was expected to eat was was served. If I didn't eat it then fine, but not desserts or snacks after dinner. Sometimes my mom would give me a choice. Like if she was getting ready to make dinner she'd ask which vegetable I'd prefer her to cook. This made me feel like I was winning (kind of). Or I usually got a choice between sandwhiches at lunch, but my mom was not going to cater to me and make me a separate meal every night. Another fun thing we did for a while was if we were good at dinner (aka good manners, ate a reasonable amount) me and my brother would get to pick dinner one night a week (can you say break fast for dinner!) if we didn't, then we didn't get to pick a meal that week. BUTTTT also don't listen to people who say "if she's hungry, she'll eat, don't worry about it." I spent ALOT of time hungry, but I didn't eat. Pretty much, not being a mother I don't quite understand what counts as a phase and what is a problem, but I think unless it starts to affect her growth or activity level (like she's tired all the time), just keep doing what your doing but be nice about it. NEVER FORCE FEED HER. I know she's still young but if people tried to force feed me in any way, it would just make me more determined to "get rid of it" and not eat for longer. Just don't make a big deal out of it. If she doesn't eat wats served that's her choice. If she's hungry later, she has the choice to eat what Mommy says. And again, don't think you controlling what she eats and stuff will result in an eating disorder. Yes, ED's are about control, but has nothing to do with food. Let me know if that made no sense. The end.

Staci Dombroski said...

I have the same problem with my five year old! I need tips too :-)

Teamarcia said...

Um yeah she's testing her boundaries for sure. I have 2 really picky eaters here. I'm probably looser than I should be in that I let them choose (from healthy options of course) and I don't make them finish. But there certainly are no treats if they don't.
Holy wow congrats on the lost poundage--although I think you're beautiful both ways.

Meg said...

You know, I noticed your self-confidence from the first time I read your blog, you are pretty amazing and it shows. Secondly, kids use eating as a control issue and sometimes, it can really snowball into something bigger. I think you should definitely remain "dispassionate" and non-reactive about the whole thing and just hold your line. Good luck!

MCM Mama said...

You didn't look half bad before, but you look amazing now!

I have boys and it's more a case of "don't get too near their mouths or they'll take a bite out of you" here, but I always let them have any fruit or veggie that's in the fridge if they don't want what's on their plate, after they've taken at least one bite.

I'm sort of glad I don't have girls. I have so many hangups about my body, that I can only imagine how much I'd have messed up a little girl.

Michelle said...

I have a child who doesn't eat meat or most cooked vegetables, but all fruit and raw vegetables. I sneak vegetables in his food. Beets in pancakes (which we eat every Tuesday night b/c of our schedule). Spinach in smoothies for lunch. Carrots in spaghetti sauce. These were mostly in the Jessica Seinfeld cookbook, but some I just came up with on my own. I try to be laid back about the food and hope that he will pick up our good habits. He loves to eat cucumbers from the garden in the summer - I think b/c I eat them sooo much.

Good luck. People keep telling me that this phase will pass, but the no meat has been since he was able to eat table food (his pedi doesn't seem that concerned). Let me know if you discover some tips that work!