looking forward by looking back

Recently I was listening to an awesome podcast that had Jessica Setnick, MS, RD/LD, CSSD as a guest.  Jessica is a Registered Dietitian who studied Anthropology prior to her nutrition education so she has this amazing take on relationships that people have with food.  She spoke about how if we want to further understand how a person currently experiences food and eating then we need to look to the past- at least 2 generations back.  I found this to be so fascinating as I grew up in a family where my grandparents had lived through World War 2 and the depression.  They would have lived in a time where food was scarce and you were lucky to have food on your table.  Fast forward to the late 1970's when I was born we did not have the same issues of food scarcity however we were definitely raised in a "finish everything on your plate" house because that is how my parents were raised.  

I remember eating Sunday dinner at my grandma Kay's house or any meal with her for that matter and you always finished your plate.  And if you finished one and there was still food left on the table you should really have seconds.  And if you had seconds there was still dessert and tea to be had.  And all of the food was a symbol of love.  It was never meant to teach me to not to listen to my body cues for hunger and fullness- It was actually a way that my grandma expressed how much she cared for us.  She could provide for us.  Yet I always felt guilt if I was full and did not want more.  I almost always ate passed the point of comfort because I did not want her to think I did not like what she provided or hurt her feelings.  Grandma Kay learned as a child what it felt like to be deprived and she likely wanted the opposite for her family.  This is a very common theme according to Jessica Setnick regarding present day issues.  Most of us (in my generation- Gen y or Gen x) have at least 1 family member two generations back that has lived through a war, a famine, or poverty of some sort.  This means that our parents were taught eating behaviours from their parents then they taught us similar ones.  But what do we teach??

Which leads me to today.  When I feed my children do I continue on with this-you must eat all the food I put on your plate or you don't get (dessert, a snack later, tv time...whatever the "punishment is for not eating dinner) or do I change.  I can admit that change is hard.  Especially when it comes to parenting because I think I suck at it daily.  Even with all I have studied and what I know to be true there is a bit of panic in my chest when one of my kids picks at dinner and does finish what I have provided.  Or they eat what might be too little (to me not them).  I am not going to lie, I am sure that I have confused them at times with my "can you eat a bit more??"  followed quickly by " well if your tummy feels full and you are done then that is enough".  And even worse when my husband and I have a discussion at the table regarding whether or not said child has eaten enough!  (there needs to be something prior to having kids so that you can create a plan of how you are going to feed/parent/do bedtime at each stage of child's life because sometimes it is crazy when you realize your philosophies are different because you become aware of that while dealing with an issue)

I want to raise my children to trust their bodies.  In all regards.  I want them to trust their strength and their intuition and that their bodies do not need to be changed or manipulated by anyone especially themselves.  And that starts by letting them tell me when they are full at meal times.  As an RD this is easy for me, as a mom this is sooooo hard.  So this summer I have changed the parenting rules.  We are going all-in with Intuitive Eating.  Not just me.  Everyone.  It is going to start with letting the "E's"  plate their own food.  At 8 and 5 years old I have always done it - partially due to mess and possible waste but they are old enough to handle utensils so why not?  And if rice ends up on the floor well lets be honest it always does anyways- we just clean it up.  By serving themselves I am hoping to help them explore what it is that their own bodies want.  I may serve up a balanced plate but maybe they wanted a bit more rice or carrots or fries or less of something.  If I do it for them I am not allowing them to figure out what they need.  It should really be no surprise that as a society we have been raising kids to be adults who can't figure out how to intuitively feed themselves and look to dieting (ohhh...a whole other topic) and meal plans to feed themselves.  And when my little people say they are full I will say "ok" no more "are you sure?" "can you eat 2 more bites?".  This does not mean there were will be an eating free for all at our house.  Its just letting them be in control of what goes in their bodies.

This could be an interesting summer at dinnertime in this house or not.  It might just go by unnoticed by them.... which would be the coolest thing.  I will post updates....Social Experiment #1.  There may even be pictures of how a 5 year old plates his food....

Until next time by Unapologetically You while I be Unapologetically Me...