July 16, 2010

"I'm hungry."

"As a child my family's menu consisted of two choices: take it or leave it."
 ~Buddy Hackett

I'm pretty sure the most common phrase uttered in our house is "I'm hungry."  It could be worse.  There was a time when Dimples called everyone an idiot as many times as she could.  Thank you very much cartoons for that lovely word introduction.  The appeal in that phrase is waning, and so "I'm hungry" has been restored to the number one spot.  I have to admit though, I'm not a big fan.

I came from a family where "If you're down, you're done." was the rule.  We ate what was made (complainingly most of the time) and we finished it because there was no coming back for more later.  There weren't a lot of other rules about eating, but one thing my mom did not do was make meals to order.  Like most people I heard about the starving kids who would be thrilled to eat whatever it was - so I should be grateful.  Our meals were fairly healthy.  We didn't eat out a lot or drink sodas, but there was always junk food around for snacks.  

Our family now looks very different.  I do make most of the meals to order.  I feed them when they ask me, and generally as often as they ask me.  I don't make them finish before they leave the table, and let them come back when they want.  And although I try very hard to feed them all at the same time, they are rarely hungry all together.  Somedays it feels like I never leave the kitchen between feeding them and myself.  As you can probably tell, we don't eat many meals together.  I would probably find this much more important if I was working and the kids were in school, but since we spend all day together I don't worry about it.  There is very little junk food in our house.  What we do have is in 100 calorie portions and the kids have been told why it's important to not eat four at each sitting (though this doesn't always stop them!)  We eat out more often, and we let them drink sodas when we do.  

Since I have issues with food, these differences are deliberate.  As much as I would like to make three meals a day, offer two snacks, and cut out all unhealthy options - I worry that I'd be creating problems were there are none right now.  Funny Girl is the queen of self-regulation.  She knows exactly what her body needs.  I trust her to know her body better than me, and it seems to be working.  For example there are days when she eats nothing but Honeynut Cheerios; others where she goes through all the fruit in the house.  She usually chooses mandarin oranges over french fries and juice over soda when we eat out, but the other day she insisted on drinking Coke with her pizza, and that was o.k. too.   She's not a real picky eater, often willing to give something a try.  I think she's the easiest to feed on a daily basis.  

Dimples refused solid food until she was one, and she was a chunky monkey!  Now she eats much the same as her sister, though she makes different choices.  She'll eat just about anything that I am eating, and we often share.  Dimples is my veggie girl.   One of her favorite meals is broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots with pasta and little bit of butter.  She doesn't really like soda, but drinks milk (soy) like it's going out of style.  Feeding her is pretty easy most days as well.  

Robotson is the one I worry most about.  I feel like he eats more for pleasure or boredom than he should.  One of the reasons I wanted to change the way I eat was to model how to make better choices.  I think it's working too.  Neither of us used to eat breakfast, but now we both get rather grumpy when we do not.  Both of us get hungry at night and need to eat more during the day.  We also need to eat all of our calories each day to keep an even flow of energy.   Recently I found out just how many calories a boy of his age needs and I was amazed.  He can eat well over what B eats on a daily basis.  Gone are the days when I would worry about his eating too much.  Now I just make sure what he has access to what is good for him.  He's my picky eater though.  He can go weeks eating the same things day after day and often refuses to even consider something new.

Getting back to the I'm hungry phrase, the reason this has gotten to me lately is because I'm tired of thinking about food.  Calories, HFCS, BPA in cans and plastics, serving sizes, meal planning, grocery shopping, when to eat, how often to eat...it goes on and on.  I never stop thinking about food.  The kids have started asking for bedtime snacks now.  This is a relatively new thing and I'm not sure where it came from, but my first instinct is to say no.  The kitchen is closed after 7pm!  This is supposed to be the "Mom is done thinking about food time."  Plus, I used to eat late and it became a bad habit.  On the other hand, I want them to trust their bodies and fall asleep with happy tummies.  So I'm learning to say yes and offering good choices.  I haven't been able to escape constant references to food, but hopefully the kids won't have to worry about it when they are adults.  Then it will all be worth it.  


  1. Food, food, and more food. It's all I ever think about. Am constantly surrounded by it. And honestly, for someone like me who has grown-up with bad choices and who continually struggles to make the right ones, it's worse than being an ex-smoker hanging out with smokers. I can walk away from the urge to smoke, but I am constantly being reminded that I need eat, need to feed others, need to shop for food, need to perpare food, and on and on and on. And then I break and binge somewhere in there, because that one bad choice in a moment of chaos becomes a slippery slope. I have a love/hate relationship with food, and I want it to be different for my kids. They would be the 1st generation to be ok with food after many generations of not ok-ness. I guess what I am trying to say is, I think I understand what you mean :) And I really need to go food shopping today *sigh*

  2. Hi! I found you through a link on Embracing My Chaos' blog. I like what you've written - much of what you're saying resonates with me. We also have chosen to feed our kids differently than we were fed - very similar to what you're describing.

    It's difficult to trust intuitive eating when you were raised with such a different and regulated mindset. I applaud your efforts to trust in your kids and your body's language!


  3. I know exactly how you feel Christin. I don't know if I could have ever gotten a handle on eating without that Lose It app. And even still, it took a good 6 months before I felt like I really knew what I was doing. Now at about 9 months I feel like I am actually in control. I understand better when my brain is trying to talk me into something and when my body actually needs something. I make sure that I budget in the foods that I enjoy eating though. That's why I still hit Baskin Robbins twice a week, but I keep losing weight. Recently I stopped counting altogether because I needed a break, but I can't eat the way I used to. I now struggle to eat all my of daily calories just to maintain my weight! It's a better problem to have (especially since I have more to lose.)

    InstinctiveMom- thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)

  4. I'm a little more structured about mealtimes here, but I also make food to order. If I cook a meal, I expect the boys to at least sample it. But most of the time I give many choices at mealtime and fix whatever each boy selects. Our mealtimes tend to be a bit unconventional, too. Such things horrify my Grandmother, but it works for us. Like you, I think it makes more sense to listen to our bodies' needs than to run the kitchen like a school cafeteria.

  5. LOL that it horrifies your grandmother, Kit. I think my family gave up being surprised by any of our choices a long time ago!