Today is a gross day: cold, rainy and gloomy. Just about my least favorite kind of day. And by the time I wrangled two girls into their respective rooms for the afternoon, I felt crabby. And the only thing I wanted was to veg out with food for no other reason than my mood. I got to thinking about 2 things while I purposefully gave in to my mild craving: days like today make me feel like I'm not mentally engaged in or challenged by anything and what a serious pull food has on our emotions. Humor me a little while I attempt to satiate a little of both thoughts here and work out some mental food/emotion thoughts. After downing some unnecessary carbs, my brain could use a workout. (Actually, all of me could...bleck.)
These are so pivotal and some of the first true relationships that are formed in our lives. Parents definitively begin how their children engage with and feel about food. We also have so many studies and reports and articles out there to (theoretically) teach us what to do about how to foster a healthy food relationship in our children as they begin their food adventures. DO expose your child to a variety of tastes and textures. DON'T force your child to eat. DO wait a couple of days in between introducing new foods. DON'T worry so much and let your child explore as he wishes. DO let your child dictate their eating. DON'T let your child play at the table. It's bewildering! And for me, this developmental process has always been more challenging than the dreaded potty training (psshhh...easy peasy).
Organic was unknown to me when I was a kid. I didn't ask if I was allowed to eat a cookie (I just did, a lot!) when I was a kid. "Turkey roll combination" was my favorite lunch meat when I was a kid. And meat at every lunch and dinner was expected when I was a kid. Dare I say, I grew up in a pretty typical middle-class American household as far as food expectations are concerned. Genetics aside, I didn't have to be as chubby, so to speak, as I was. Now, I've maintained my own eating schedule for over a decade, and I continue to fall back to childhood habits. Still! And my margarined toast was exactly what I wanted this afternoon, probably because it's exactly what I used to eat 15 years ago when I was bored, lonely, cold, moody, etc.
As a parent, I believe that this is the second most important way that I have and will mold my daughters. What will their food habits and pitfalls be when they are 30? I'm hoping that their mindsets will be something like "Ugh, another cold, rainy day...I need a clementine!" But I also acknowledge that I can only lead them to the water; that being said, it's my job to ensure that the water is good.
Food and Mood
I felt like reading up on it a bit, so a quick Google search later, I came across this article from the renowned Mayo Clinic. Even the term "comfort food" gives me warm fuzzies. But in the back of my mind, I also have this niggling thought that keeps surfacing. What if I grew up scrambling for food every day as a part of existing? What if the term "comfort food" meant nothing to me because it was non-existent? How does this skew the food-mood correlation? Isn't it definitively a luxury? And then ultimately, how do rationalize the gluttonous amount of comfort food to which I willingly fall victim?
I try to maintain a standard of if-I'm-eating-dessert-than-you-can-have-dessert with Abby, and eventually Audrey, I'm sure. But inevitably, that means that I sneak chocolate or what-have-you on the side. After wallowing in the holiday sweet fest, I'm ready to work towards a healthier semblance of satiety and balance. Unfortunately, the need is pressing now, at the height of comfort food season when I'm ever so convinced that some carbs and a little sugar will do the trick to sooth my crabby soul that feels deprived of sunshine.
Yesterday, I had a little bit of time by myself to fun a few errands and ended the trip with french fries and a big ol' piece of chocolate cake (oh, free goodies for my birthday...you ensnare me!). And that accidentally ended up being my lunch. What an imbalanced food-mood relationship that illustrates. Oh. My. Goodness.