You and I have had our ups and our downs. When I was younger I avoided you. When I was older, I feared you. Yet, I could never quite get over you. You helped me connect with my children through baking and cooking. Covered with flour in the kitchen, we created some of my favorite memories. Then I would swear you off and eat ‘diet’ versions of you, leaving my children confused and looking for an answer.
I realized that something was wrong when my 7 year old twin girls started measuring themselves. They would tell me proudly how they had said no to the pizza at the cafeteria and had only eaten the small salad for lunch. I had never talked to them about you, food, but they caught on quickly. I felt awful. I didn’t want my children to go through the same confusion and disappointment that I felt. This led me to my journey to finding my own peace with you, food.
After discovering intuitive eating and ellyn satter’s books about a year ago, our family has practiced the principles as we eat together each day. We have learned how to reconnect with both nutritious and fun versions of you. I have felt so much peace when I’ve see them eat a cookie with enthusiasm, and then reach for bell peppers with that same enjoyment. The obsessions with weight are gone for both me and my children. I thought we had it all figured out!
Then we hit a roadblock with you, food. My 6 year old son was diagnosed with PANDAS, an autoimmune disorder. He has an infection in his brain, and his body is confusing his own brain tissue for the infection itself. After an ineffective round of antibiotics, his doctor is pushing us to go on a ‘no sugar diet’, so there is nothing to feed the infection. This means no sugar and very limited fruits and carbohydrates. The diet could last for months or even years.
I am happy to do anything I can to see my son be healthy again. But I am concerned, food. I am worried that by throwing good and bad labels into our families food vocabulary, we will undo all of our hard work. I am worried that even after my son is healthy, he will still have a fear of these versions of you. I am worried that he will start sneaking you at friends houses or at school and end up eating more sugar than he is now (which isn’t a lot).
Yet, I am also worried that if I let him choose, he will never get better. I have always been good at being extreme with you, food. It seems easier just to ban everything that might be hurting him.
When I brought up these concerns with our doctor, he just seemed confused. He said that if I have the discipline to make an extreme change, that could only be helpful to my son.
The holiday season is here and it is time to make a decision. Is there a way to eat intuitively and follow these dietary restrictions? If we leave weight out of it, is it still a diet? I just want to make life a little more simple for my children than it was for me.
Scared and Hopeful