Wednesday, February 3, 2010

different appetites

So I asked my daughter what her favorite part of the vacation was.
"When I got to eat ice-cream from the box for breakfast! Oh, and the calamari!" (We were emptying out the fridge on our last morning and there was some ice-cream left. M spotted it and asked if she could have it for breakfast. Sure! I handed her a spoon, a banana and some toast with butter and jam.)

After some reflection and prompting, she admitted that the pool was pretty cool, as was the big splurge of petting a dolphin! (Highlight of the trip for me, though the local peel- and-eat shrimp for $5 a pound were AWESOME!)

What I'm getting at is that some people are more interested and tuned-in to food than others. My early vacation memories are literally about the food, so this made me chuckle. My mom asks if I remember Williamsburg, and I think for a minute. "Was that where we went to that brick restaurant where I had my first clam chowder and J. had a baked potato?" I'm not kidding you.
Of course, we ONLY ate out on vacation, so it was extra special, but I am very aware and appreciative of food. I could not comprehend "forgetting" to eat a meal. I don't like feeling hungry. Other people, like my husband, are the opposite.

This can be a problem in the feeding relationship, for example when feeders and kids are opposites in their interest, joy and experiences around food and hunger.
One mom I worked with could forget to eat, was naturally thin and didn't mind being hungry. Her daughter had a hearty and emotional appetite. She was joyful when eating and tantrummy and scared when she didn't eat. This child needed lots of structure and predictability with her food, and Mom struggled with that. Mom didn't remember snacks sometimes and was perplexed and even worried about her daughter's relationship with food.

They ended up doing well. It was enormously reassuring to Mom to hear that her daughter's interest and experiences were normal and healthy, not an obsession or indication of "overeating." She was better able to plan and prepare and provide what her daughter needed when she empathized with how her daughter felt when she was hungry or scared she wouldn't get enough.

If on the other hand you LOVE food and eating and it's something you look forward to and your kid could care less, that can be challenging too. Still provide the structure, support and yummy food, but don't take it personally if your child isn't bouncing up and down in her chair over Gramma's spaghetti sauce.

Are you tuned in or out to food? How are the people around you with food? Does it cause conflict? Got one kid who loves to eat and another who could care less?


  1. It's so true that some people are more food driven than others. My favorite books, as a child, were ones that were related to food in some way. I remember a book about some animal that goes on a sleep-over, and they make cookies from scratch and eat the dough.

    That's the sort of thing that sticks in my head, as do flavors from my hometown. I still groan at the loss of Blue Moon ice cream, a Michigan favorite, which they don't sell in California where I live now.

    I know where they sell the best milk chocolate, where to get the most delicious breakfast, and I know where to get the freshest, cheapest, best tasting sushi. Food is my one of my biggest loves, right under reading and cats.

    As for people around me, well one of my roommates is even more food motivated than I am, and the other one is a total cookie monster. I've never been out to eat with anyone where they thought that the type of food or amount of food I was eating was inappropriate, not since grade school at least.

  2. I'm feeling a little more 'normal' now, having read this. No, I'm not 'obsessed' with food, and I'm not a messed-up person for thinking gleefully about the next meal I'll prepare or a special dinner I'm going to or for thinking joyfully back on wonderful things I've eaten in the past. I'm just a person with a hedonistic streak, and that's perfectly okay, eh? I am VERY tuned in to food. I'm downright passionate on the subject. I can TOTALLY relate to the joyful food-memories. :D I've said similar things in similar circumstances.

    My parents both enjoy a good meal, but aren't terribly adventurous. My beloved babysitter from my younger years was always, always trying new things and always, always eager to remember the old things that were so wonderful. My roommate just seems to eat whatever's easiest, with little forethought put into prep or details. And all of them are perfectly good, fine, 'normal' people. Yeah.