I have been learning intuitive eating from the best.
She eats freely, enjoying what she wants when she wants in the quantity that is perfectly satisfying. She knows what foods she likes and what foods she doesn’t. She is unafraid to take big bites and lick her fingers. She uses all five of her senses to enjoy a fantastic relationship with food.
While she hasn’t written any books and doesn’t have any fancy degrees, I have learned more from her about how to eat intuitively than anyone else. She is my 2.5 year old daughter.
When she first learned to eat, things were very messy. This was challenging for me, as I have a lot of the typical characteristics of a person with anorexia. I am a perfectionist. I need things to be in order, in their proper place.
When she ate, all my tendencies were put to the test. I would wipe her hands and face numerous times during a meal, which she protested vehemently. I tried to keep her foods in neat compartments that she would promptly mix together.
It was futile to try to coerce my toddler to eat the way I wanted her to. My anorexic ways were not working on her.
When she was little like this, breakfast and lunch for me consisted of eating leftover nibbles from her plate that she didn’t touch. I would have a quarter of an English muffin with jam, or some grapes with cheese. For a meal.
As she grew older, she sometimes asked, “Mama, are you hungry?” because I sat with her sipping a diet Coke while she ate. I would deflect the question usually, but occasionally lied to her – “Mama’s not hungry, baby” or “Mama already ate while you were napping”.
I HATED lying to my daughter.
I KNEW that as her mother, she was already learning from me.
So, I started to eat with her. I made myself the exact same food I made for her. Yes, this meant I was eating like a toddler – in quality AND quantity. But it was more than I had been before.
Over months, I increased my variety and portion sizes. She has been an integral part of my recovery. She has brought joy back to the dining table. Laughter is on the menu again.
Thank you, sweet girl.
Who can you look to for healing your relationship with food? For me, it has been a child. Learn from the intuitive eaters in your life. You’ll be happy you did.