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Don’t let food be your child’s voice
Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE and Mom
While in session this week, my client expressed frustration, disappointment, and anger toward her parents, in particular her mother, when recalling the holidays. My client, a vegetarian, is recovering from an eating disorder. Upon returning home for the holidays, her mother tells her, “I bought you food. It’s in the other refrigerator.” Excited, my client feels respected and goes to make lunch. But when she opens the refrigerator, she only finds one red pepper—and there’s mold growing on it.
Next, her parents tell her to choose a restaurant by a famous chef they all adore, that way everyone will be satisfied. She makes a decision and tells her mother. Mom’s response: “Oh, no one will like it there. We are going to a different restaurant.”
At the restaurant, mom orders for the family even though the kids want something different. My client ends up with a dish that contains cheese. She is lactose intolerant. Now she needs to order a new meal, wait for it and eat while everyone else waits for her to finish.
You’re out, mom! Thankfully, my client practiced patience and used her coping skills, and before long, she returned home to her own apartment where she reigns over the refrigerator.
In this instance, it’s clear that my client lost her voice among those of the rest of her family and developed an eating disorder to express her lack of recognition and pain. This is a perfect example of how sometimes we may not truly be listening to our children. Sure, we may hear their voices, but there are moments when we simply miss the boat.
As mothers, parents and caregivers, we are all busy and consumed. It’s not just my client’s parent; it could be any one of us. But, whether a child is 3 or 30, we all need to recognize that they have their own needs and personalities. They need to be heard, respected and acknowledged in order to build their self-esteem and prevent them from using food to numb, to cope, to ask for help, or to ask for more love.
What do you do to let your children know that you hear them? How do you acknowledge them and prevent food from becoming their voice?