April 1, 2020

The Joy of Food, or How I Became a Closet Eater

My kids have turned me into a closet eater. I frequently find myself burying my head in the pantry pretending I’m looking for something while I surreptitiously shovel potato chips or some other forbidden delicacy in my mouth that I don't let my kids eat, except on “special occasions.”

It started with my daughter seeing that I would be eating something that she didn't recognize or wasn't eating herself. She'd ask: what are you eating, with a gleam in her eye. Nothing, I'd say, shoving whatever it was in my mouth and turning away. When my son turned 7 months he started to be very interested in what other people ate in front of him. Of course he couldn’t yet verbalize it, but I knew and could see in his eyes that he desperately wanted whatever I was eating.

I’m trying to teach my daughter about sharing. This absolutely backfired on me when she saw me stuffing a piece of banana bread in my mouth so as to not share any of it. “I want some.” “Sorry, honey, this is mommy’s.” “You need to share Mommy.” How right she is.

My kids like to eat. They get excited by food. This means they will eat a good variety of foods, and that makes my life a lot easier. When your kids refuse to eat, it’s stressful. You end up offering them food that you yourself would love to eat all the time but you’d gain 30 pounds and have a heart attack if that was your diet.

When number two arrives on the scene, you’re so busy trying to figure out the breastfeeding routine and then introducing solids that you stop paying attention to what your old child is doing, and just to keep them quiet you don’t even bother offering something with nutrients and go straight to the junk. This is entirely understandable. The keyword here is survival. So go ahead and give your older child what they really want. This fog will lift and they will eat well again eventually.