HAES Parenting Fail

This morning, my kids woke up hungry and so I fed them cereal with rice milk. Then my older son asked for some potato chips. I told him to have an apple. Then he asked for some potato chips. I told him to have a rice cake with sunflower butter on it, and I gave him a mini-lecture about macro-nutrients. He ate the rice cake and he asked for some potato chips. I told him to have a boiled egg. “ARGH!” he shouted and stomped off. “If you’re not hungry for an egg,” I called after him, “then you’re not hungry.”

Ugh. Yes, I really did say that. Once he was in his room, noisily and angrily rooting through the lego box, I started to wonder what was the big deal. Why can’t he just have some damned potato chips if he’s hungry for them? And then it dawned on me that the entire exchange we’d had was a power struggle on my part. One of the things I continue to find extremely difficult is eating normally–letting go of the notion that there are “good” foods and “bad” foods, and just generally trusting my own hunger cues. So, in my my mind, I am still unconsciously compartmentalizing the potato chips as a “bad” food which should only be enjoyed at lunchtime. Of course, as soon as he was out of the room, I couldn’t STOP thinking about those fucking potato chips and they were all I wanted to eat, even though I’d already had a cup of coffee, a bowl of cereal, and a banana.

I got myself some chips and called him back to the kitchen. I told him that I’d made a huge mistake. If he’s hungry, he needs to eat, and that he’s allowed to decide for himself, within reason, (see? i’m still doing it. argh!) what he would like to eat. Of course, he was still hungry for the chips, which he ate happily with his brother.

Leaving behind a lifetime of cultural messages and 2 years of WW indoctrination is a process, but at least I was able to recognize the ridiculousness of telling an 8 year old (or any one else for that matter) that he’s not hungry.