Thursday, November 19, 2009

Intuitive Eating: What My Daughter Has Taught Me.

Something I have had to fight is my fear of waste. Spending a lot of time with my Depression-era grandparents and having had parents raised by them, I find myself now and again fighting the urge to force Kiddlywink to eat more than she wants. When she was young, it quickly became apparent whenever I'd done this. She'd "waste" the excess in her own indisputable fashion. Most often, all over the fool who'd not wanted to waste the last 10 mls in the bottle.

These days it's a little trickier, because she does actually push the bottle away when she's had enough. BUT! She can also do that if it's not sitting right in her mouth, she's frustrated with how long it's taken, or she's accidentally knocked it out while stroking the bottle. So, it's a fine line between trying not to force her and offering it again in case she really does want some more and can't stop complaining about it long enough to realise the bottle's in her mouth already. Extra fun bonus points is when she pauses in between sucking, on and off for five minutes, to bitch about everything. LOL

Watching Kiddlywink as she's grown and matured, both in stature and appetite, has shown me a lot about what actual intuitive eating is. To start with, we had to have her on a three hourly schedule because she wasn't mature enough to wake herself up when she should have been hungry. That's normal for premature babies.

Even then, though, there were times that she would wake up before the three hours and express her dissatisfaction at how slow the service was around here. Other times, she would barely eat half the minimum amount she was supposed to ingest in one meal.

Keeping track of her eating habits allowed us to figure out that no matter what she ate at any particular meal, she would consistently eat the same amount in a day. And as the days wore on and we averaged out the weeks, it became even more apparent: She had distinct patterns. E.G. One meal a day, every day, was always smaller than the others. Leading up to a bowel movement she would eat a lot more the preceeding day. She cluster fed every night before bed: Sometimes eating a full meal's worth every hour for 4 or more hours!

The amount she'd eat in each meal didn't matter in the slightest, because her eating clock was set at her own time and pace. I'll never forget the absolutely disgusted looks she'd give us in the day or two it took us to figure out she was now ready for a four hourly awakening, rather than three.

Here are some other things I've learned, or had reinforced by observing her, and find that they also apply to me.

- Food is more enjoyable when I'm actually hungry.
- Sometimes, when I think I'm peckish, I'm thirsty. And sometimes, I am actually peckish.
- If there are times I feel actually hungry again sixty, thirty, or even five minutes after I finish eating? That's okay; have just a little bit more.
- Some meals I'll eat far less than I'd believe could possibly satisfy me.
- Other times, before I'm satisfied, I'll have eaten a meal bigger than my head!
- There are times when it's more important to have a little snack to stave off the hunger pangs and then go have the sleep I so desperately need. Even if it's of an evening and I sleep through till breakfast. I obviously needed the sleep more.
- Some days I eat less, or more, often than usual.
- Sometimes, I want to drink plain water, but I want it heated. Other times I want it ice cold. Most often, room temperature is nice.
- In the morning my extremities are colder than at any other time of day. I need fuel a.s.a.p. to stoke up my inner fires. Breakfast is one meal I cannot do without.
- Occasionally, I do need to eat a snack during the night.
- T.V. IS a distraction.
- Eating alongside others is extra enjoyable. Even if we don't speak, and are eating different things, sharing our enjoyment is enough.
- A burp is a compliment. As is a contented sigh. It says thank you for ensuring I have had enough to eat.

There's more, but I think you get the general gist of things. I'm also sure, that she'll continue teaching me for many years to come about how to eat, how to enjoy life, and how to love myself and others unconditionally.

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