Sunday, June 20, 2010

"but they're baked!"

I was having lunch at Subway yesterday. It was interesting. M asked to have a smaller sandwich since the last two times we were there she couldn't finish hers (6 inch) We ordered the kids' sandwich which was perfect. She enjoyed picking her toppings on white bread, she had extra pickles, green peppers, lettuce, ham and cheese. She ate a few chips with water. We had had strawberries with whipped cream and angel food cake for a special Father's Day breakfast :)

We are going to a new church and on the way there I said (I admit to trying to sweeten the deal of going to a new church on a sunny day...) "You'll see your teacher Jenny, and then after church we can have the cookies or a cupcake and meet some new friends." She replied, "I already had cake for breakfast. I had enough sweet stuff for today I think." A statement that my four-year-old self would have found crazy! It's interesting to me to see her be able to think about what she feels like eating and be very matter of fact about it. (Though this morning we had crying about why we were not having cake again for breakfast, "No, actually Mom, this is whining, not crying...")

Another family was at Subway and it was painful to watch and listen to. Three boys- and every bite, every choice was argued, and counseled. First the argument for 9 grain bread, then trying to get some veggies on the subs, then the argument over the drink. (OK, chocolate milk) then over the chips, "You know you have to have baked chips, you can have baked Lays or Sun Chips..." Then the kids tried this one, "Mom, can we have cookies, it says they're baked and fresh! That sounds good, right?" Mom shut them down on the cookies, "I know what you're trying to do and it won't work..." Then there was threatening over eating the sub (all three were white bread with turkey,) not just the chips and chocolate milk... Ugh. I felt bad for all of them, mom especially. I always have to stifle the urge to put my card or put a bookmark for Ellyn Satter's, Child of Mine on the table. I have experienced feeding anxieties and am sure mom is not happy about how feeding feels.

It doesn't have to be so hard, and kids will eat better if we let them do their jobs with feeding, stop pressuring and do our jobs with feeding. This Subway eaves-dropping ecperience seems pretty much the norm these days. Do you remember this much attention when we were kids?

On another note, I will be off for a workshop this week, so will be checking in only sporadically. I am getting some great feeding questions via email and blog and will check in with those in the coming weeks.

Kids are smart! Baked? What have your kids figured out? I remember a little girl I was seeing for rapid weight gain when I was in the clinic setting and practicing the standard medical model, and she said to her mom, "Mom, if we get that puppy I always wanted, I would be more active..." Pretty sad and smart.


  1. I don't have kids yet, but I do have an amusing anecdote from my childhood that you might enjoy.

    I'm the middle child, with an older and younger brother. One day, when he was four and I was eight, my younger brother was trying to convince our parents to get him a Lego set he wanted and it wasn't working. As we left the store, I told him he needed to work on his negotiating skills.

    By the way, I LOVE your blog. The feeding philosophy you espouse is very similar to what my parents did when I was a child, and thanks to them, I have a good relationship with food. I've noticed that modeling this philosophy around food has help my husband significantly, since he came from a family that judges "good" and "bad" foods heavily. He can finally just enjoy eating without being worried that he'll eat the wrong foods and get sick.

  2. My parents love to tell this story (usually in a "gee, honey, you would have made a GREAT LAWYER hint hint" context): when I was about six or seven and my brother was three or four, my parents were trying to get my brother to eat his vegetables at dinner, and said that he couldn't have dessert until he ate his vegetables. (I know, groan.) Apparently I'd been learning about the food pyramid that week and had figured out that fruit and vegetables were in the same category, because I launched into a big complicated argument (for a 6-year-old) that since we were having fruit for dessert and fruit was supposed to be equivalent to vegetables, it should be OK for him to skip the vegetables and go straight to dessert. They ended up shutting me down in order to avoid setting a bad precedent and encouraging me to lawyer my way out of things I didn't want to do, but by all accounts it was pretty amusing.

  3. I was raised with all those food issues you've written about. Then I became a step-parent to primary-school-aged kids who demonstrated the self-regulating that sane family food customs can promote. I couldn't believe it. They could help themselves to ice cream or apples after school, they would mostly eat most of the foods served at meals, they wouldn't expect dessert as the prize after every single meal ... and I couldn't buy their affection with home baking and they thought many of my recipes were "too sweet". It sure made me re-think everything I thought I understood! I'm so grateful that they had a healthy head start before I came along!

  4. Nowadays, it is pretty much a given that kids need balaced meals *and* snacks. When I was a kid, however, snacks were not considered part of a healthy diet. You would get hungry two hours before lunch and be told to just wait two hours. Most people from my generation share very similar anecdotes about this, along the lines of: (Mid-morning) "Mom, can I have a popsicle/cookie/banana?" "Not now, you can have one after lunch." "Ok, can I have lunch NOW?"

  5. Kaowolfe,
    I love that you are helping your husband with his relationship with food. You will be a step ahead if you have children. Thanks for sharing! Do you know the "Priceline Negotiator!" commercial? It's with Shatner and has a catchy tune. My dh and I often adapt it/ "bedtime negotiator!" or "ice-cream negotiator!" It makes us laugh and is very flexible...

  6. Maria, love your story about the fruits and veggies.
    You would have been the
    "Veg-gie negotiator!" (Sung to the Priceline negotiator ad...

  7. Hobbitbabe,
    what a cool story! They were lucky! I still have hope that our children can teach us things about eating. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Hi Ila,
    I agree, there seems to be an awful lot of snacking going on... I never had a morning snack, but often did have an afternoon bowl of soup when I got off the bus with some bread. Other cultures have "tea time" or the "quatre-heure" (4 o'clock) in France. I do think it's odd that kids have snack in the morning, and then lunch an hour later. It depends on the timing... It seems too that you can't do any activity with kids in the US without food. Soccer practice, games, outings, evening school concerts...

  9. I agree about the timing... In Spain and other Mediterranean countries, I think snacks make sense because mealtimes tend to be much later and further apart than in Anglo-Saxon countries. Breakfast can be at 7-9h depending on when you start your school or work day, then lunch is typically at around 14-15h and dinner at around 21h. For kids, there is a sanctioned "tea time snack" after school, at around 17h. When I was little, I would eat breakfast at 9, then get hungry again at 12, and be told to wait for lunch, which wasn't in another two hours. I was considered a "bad" eater, and the idea was that, being hungry for two hours, I would "eat better" at lunch. In reality, come lunchtime, I would be feeling dizzy and nauseated and not hungry anymore. Which makes me wonder if maybe my "bad eating" problem was the result of not being allowed to listen to my own hunger cues.