So I am driving my kids in the car to go out to eat for a birthday dinner with their grandparents. And the youngest daughter, the one most like me, pops up with “I think I eat too much…I’m going to try to be less hungry” and my heart just broke….my biggest fear is I will somehow “give” my eating disorder to my daughters. Even though i am step mom (their mother passed over 3 years ago now.) I love them like my own. (for those that belive in the supernatural, i have dreampt about them since i was 12, but i digress again as usual) I try VERY hard to cook balanced meals, not talk about good food bad food and try to help them look at food as fuel for your body…we need various food groups like your car need fluids or it wont run right. At the same time i teach them to cook, to bake, to love food and life.
We tried hard to explain that she needs to eat and drink so her body can grow big and strong….. but now I worry….I’ve know her since she was 3…..she has always LOVED seafood and veggies…in fact at buffets she often just eats sliced tomatoes, seeds, cheese, and strawberries, happy as a clam. But with that comment i find myself worried more and more….is she restricting? or just enjoying the foods she loves? do i force her to eat the meat and such that is the “main course” with dinner? (our usual rule is as many bites as your age of veggies, fruit and protein) She also has a bad gag reflex and will start to choke and puke a little when she’s upset (smells and tastes will also set her off). At what point is that bulimia? She has the other “triggers” for and ED too….a need to be perfect….childhood trama…..a crushing need to feel accepted. Already when she messes up, she will run away and call herself stupid. I try to tell her we have to make mistakes to learn but i don’t know if she hears me.
Kids being the curious buggers that they are have caught me in a few ED freakout moments, so I sat down and explained as best as I could how some people are fat and some people are thin, and how the people that sell diet stuff try to make you feel bad to sell the diet stuff. They are starting to read, so we look at the tiny print on the diet commercials. “mommy it says average weight loss 5 lbs total, thats not as much as the girl in the ad.” But how do you explain bulimia and EVERYTHING that comes with it to a 6 and a 7 yr old without making them question their body, their self-worth? How do you armor a child that , due to her genetics (her mom was 200+ her dad is over 300 lb) has a pretty good chance of being overweight? (and do it without damaging her self-worth)
I honestly stay up at night worrying about stuff like this, and cry for a world where i have to worry about getting a 6-year-old ready for a life of being fat, of loving yourself in the face of pressure to diet because you are never, ever good enough.