When I think about food and my weight loss journey, I can’t help but think of my son. He is lanky and a little below average for his BMI score (he’s a true picky eater), and it seems unlikely that he’ll have a weight problem, but who knows?
I started off at average weight as a child and eventually started getting heavier sometime near the end of elementary school. So in my mind, there’s no way to know for sure about my son.
I don’t want to over-feed him (but again, because he’s a picky eater, it’s unlikely that that will happen), but I also don’t want to aid and abet his picky eating out of fear of him developing an eating problem. And I don’t want to pass on the food quirks and crutches that I’ve accumulated. When he’s sad, for example, I hesitate before giving him a treat to shore up the hug and pep talk I’ve given, because I don’t want to link food and soothing for him in the same way it lives in my mind.
Food is such a challenging thing on the family level, just like anything I want to teach my son. It’s hard to resist the urge to heavy-handedly shape a child’s behavior in reaction to your own experiences.
One of last week’s episodes of Private Practice reminded me of the concerns I have. The members of the practice were divided on whether Amelia had a drug problem. Most thought no, but Charlotte thought Amelia’s first day back in the office after an unexplained absence was buoyed by drugs. Cooper asked Charlotte if she was overreacting because she had lived as an addict.
It turned out that Charlotte was right about Amelia’s struggle. But in real life, does that mean we should automatically think the worst about someone’s potential to behave badly in an area in which we have behaved badly? If we take on an innocent until proven guilty attitude, as we should, is there time enough to help reel someone back in when they’ve started going down the wrong path? (And to be clear, my concern is about health issues related to overeating and using food as a solution to challenging feelings, not to any more superficial issues like appearance.)
I don’t have all the answers for my own behavior, so I certainly don’t have them for approaching how to foster good food habits in our children. The best advice I have is to strive to be a good role model, and to be honest when things go off course. And to always try to get back on track.
In my case, I feel I may be making much ado about nothing when it comes to my son. I pray that this is the case. But at least I have some thought behind the issue, in case I need it.