Are you an emotional eater? If you answered yes, how did you learn to be one and who taught you? Many of us can raise our hands high that we are emotional eaters!!! We might associate this eating pattern with stress during college or after we joined the adult work force. Or maybe we think it was when we broke up with that special someone.
But is that when this eating for comfort really began? Can you remember when the kids in school bullied us and we ran home to the comfort of some chocolate chip cookies and a tall glass of milk? Or maybe we fixed a couple of bowls of potato chips with dip and a nice glass of a sweet drink! Maybe we popped a pizza in the microwave while we were trying to complete our first 150 word report for English class in middle school. More than likely we started earlier than that, we just don’t remember. Do you want to know what I think? I believe that it’s likely we were young children, toddlers. And if you really give it some thought, it was probably when we were infants!
Shortly after a baby is born feeding them a bottle or trying to get them to latch on if the mom has wisely decided to nurse her child, is the primary focus. Babies start communicating with their emotions right away! They cry when they need to be changed and they cry when they want to be picked up and especially when they’re ready to eat! The first thing we think of as parents and caregivers is …..feeding time! We have to learn when to feed, how much to feed and lastly when can we start to feed the baby solid foods? Sometimes parents listen to the doctor and other times it’s the grandparents advice we follow, even if it goes against the time frame the doctors suggest. You know how grandma may say give that baby a bit of cereal in the bottle, they’re crying cause she or he is still hungry! If the new parent repeats the schedule the doctor or nurse recommends ……grandma falls back on her experience!!
Babies cry, we all know that, but not every cry should be silenced with a bottle of something put into their mouths. I’ve watched this on many occasions and if truth be told I did it too! I even used water bottles with a little Karo syrup added for sweetness (I’m so ashamed of myself now)! It was because my mom and grandmother and aunts and family friends said, ” Go on girl, it won’t hurt nothing!’ Once we get through infancy…toddler time doesn’t make it any better since by then the precious little ones start to point at what they want and get pretty demanding! The crying is louder and the manipulation begins! Around the end of toddler hood we begin bribing kids to eat the food set before them, even if they don’t like the look, smell and especially the taste. Have you ever had a two year old spit food in your mouth as you’re saying, “Come on, just take a little bite….it’s good, look mommy or daddy is eating some, ooh yummy! Uh..the ain’t having it! So you start to bribe with their favorite foods…something sweet! Even if it’s naturally sweet foods like fruit and corn or carrots, (sometimes).
Okay we’re past the toddler age, now we introduce the outside world of “sweet treats” as rewards and incentives in childcare centers and in the classroom. We automatically plan birthday parties and other celebrations around food! Heck, we even entice students to complete assignments and do well on standardized tests with the promise of pizza and ice cream parties! If your’re happy and you know shout, can I have another slice of pizza? Think about all of the family gatherings we attend. Most of the time the atmosphere is happy and joyful and along with those positive feelings comes that delicious pecan pie Aunt Maimie brings to every event! Church potlucks are popular and having sleep overs are sure to include feeling happy and filling up the disposable plates with all kinds of yummiliciousness!
This is why Health Coaching is so needed, especially with new parents and young parents. Well, now that I think about it, grandparents need a little help with the food as love too! Coddling and holding babies close to the adult’s body is sadly being cast to the side in lieu of the “All In One Baby Carrier” and I’m not talking about in the warm embrace of surrounding arms either! If babies could talk I wonder how they feel being swung from side to side under a plastic hooded roller coaster. It has to be unsettling to their digestive system and to their place of calm in their inner being. Health Coaches can enable parents to learn soothing techniques within themselves that transfers to their babies. The historical way of swaddling babies in warm blankets to get them to sleep resonated as peace in their spirits. Not so much whimpering and less crying in times past.
The emotional connection with babies is not as solid as it was in the past, due to the decisions being made in our hurry up, gotta get to work world. It takes at least two paychecks to make ends meet now days and sometimes two paychecks have to be earned by one individual! Single and/or divorced parents are becoming more of the norm at Parent Teacher Conferences than ever before. There’s a lot going on in families, but it is not around the breakfast or dinner table. For these next few posts we’ll deal mainly with food, but not just what we’re feeding our kids, but how we’re feeding them and what’s eating away at us as individuals, families, communities and our culture. Giving y’all a little something to chew on until my next post……. Do you know what your emotional triggers are?