So M had her slew of shots the other day. It kind of snuck up on me. Here’s the thing– I HATE NEEDLES. I had major anxiety over shots as a kid, still have the occasional nightmare. My husband thinks it’s funny that it was easier for me to use a scalpel than a needle on my patients. So, that is the depth of my dislike of needles.
I was surprised by how much my fear paralyzed me when it came to dealing with M and her shots. I didn’t know what to do. I doubted and mulled for days. “Do I tell her now? Do I wait, do I lie? Will I be able to keep it together while she gets her shots so that I don’t add to the anxiety?” I knew my own fear was blowing this way out of proportion, but I couldn’t rely on my “instincts” since mine were to run screaming…
It made me think of feeding, of course
How do you feed, how do you deal with the daily challenges when you don’t have instincts you can trust? If you the parent are dealing with an eating disorder, or, like most women, some degree of disordered eating, how do you approach feeding? If having bread or other ‘trigger foods’ in the house makes you want to run screaming, how can you deal with feeding? Many of my clients will share a history of an eating disorder, and as one mom put it, “I try to fake it, but this is all really hard. I’m terrified of passing my food issues on to my child.” The mom who most inspired me to take up this work said, “Every time I feed my daughter, I feel like I am on a knife-edge between anorexia and obesity.” (Mom of a healthy nine-month old.) Add to that the normative model of feeding in our culture (control and avoidance) and there are many parents who are confused, coping and doing the best they can.
That’s why the trust model of feeding is such a gift. The Division of Responsibility makes it clear and simple (if not easy.) Child of Mine, and Secrets to Feeding a Healthy Family (both by Satter) are amazing “how-to” resources for those who question, doubt, wonder about the best way to feed. (“Secrets” is also a “how to” feed yourself book, and is a favorite resource I go to when adults struggle with their own eating.)
I’ve been there. When M was just over a year, she was big and gobbling food. With a family history of heart disease, and my own experiences treating patients with eating disorders, I felt that gnawing anxiety. “What do I do? Do I let her eat all day as long as it’s “healthy?” Do I limit portions? When I try to do that it seems to make this worse!” I knew in my gut (as well as having seen restriction not work in family and patients) that how I was feeding didn’t feel right, but I didn’t know what to do. That feeling and that worry was spoiling my time with my daughter.
Those books taught me what to do, shared the research behind it and gave me the concrete how of feeding. Let’s face it, we pretty much know what our kids should eat, but not how…
If you find you’re fearful or mistrusting of your own instincts, I hope you will find them as helpful for your family as I did for my own.
(I would really love to see this information get out there and reach the eating disorder community more. I’ve heard from many mothers in recovery or recovered, who struggle immensely around feeding. I’ve had wonderful feedback with the Trust Model when ED is part of the picture…) Any ideas?
How are you coping with your instincts or lack thereof around feeding?