This morning when I came home from work I asked my son what he had for breakfast as I always do. His answers are much the same cereal, egg, toast, fruit… Today’s answer was a bit different and it still has me shaking my head in disbelief. He replied, “I had cereal mom, but I didn’t eat a lot.” I offered him an apple for the ride to school and his reply blew me away. “No I don’t want anything else to eat because today is a special day at school. We are having donuts and a movie at snack recess today and maybe some other special treats so I don’t want to make my stomach full and not be hungry later.”
I have always been in awe of how Carlos eats. He asks for food when he is hungry and stops when is full. It boggles my mind to see him literally stop eating a piece of decadent cheesecake or what have you practically mid-bite, push it away and state matter-of-factly “I’m all done.” It is as though he is hard wired with an on and off switch that I clearly lack. I am envious of that and as I work towards overcoming a life long battle with food I find myself observing my son’s eating habits in hopes that they will rub off on me a bit. He is healthy, energetic and strong. He does not and probably will never have to concern himself with his weight if he continues to remain so self-aware and maintain the habits he has now.
However, he is a child and some of his habits are tied into his environment. I have never discussed my weight issues with my son. I do not fret about how I look in front of him nor do I obsess about what I eat to him. I educate him the best I can about nutrition, fitness and overall health and wellness. I have done some things differently with him regarding food that stray from the way I was raised. I do not ever force him to eat if he says he is not hungry. I carry a few healthy snacks on me at all times so we are not at the mercy of junk food if hunger strikes. His beverage of choice is water, juice is very limited and he does not drink soda in my presence (I can’t always control what happens when I’m not around, but he seems to think it’s disgusting for now). I start him with a normal child size portion and allow him seconds if he is still hungry after eating everything on his plate rather than present him with an adult size portion which might encourage him to eat more than he wants or needs.
Maybe Carlos’ tummy was a little hungry as he left for school this morning, but he knew it would be full with a more enticing treat in no time. In the world of Weight Watchers and other weight loss programs this is called pre-planning your day. For Carlos it was a simple decision. Psychotherapist and nutritionist Ellyn Satter sums it up nicely, “The parent is responsible for what, when and where. The child is responsible for how much and whether.”