Kids and Eating Disorder

This morning as our help served cornflakes to the kiddoos while I was gulping down my glass of dalia before leaving for work, daddy dear added two spoons full of muesli (his latest addition during our weekend provision shopping) to each of the bowls. Anu (firstborn) started crying because she doesn’t like anything that she has not tried out earlier. I do not like kids crying sitting in front of food, so after pacifying her with a few words, I just left the place to avoid any further arguments on this.

Later on I called her up from the cab and told her, “Papa asked you to have it only because he loves you and wants the best for you, right???” To this she responded, “Didn’t you get any other person to get married to? Why did you have to get us this Papa?”  I replied saying, “It was Papa who got you this Mamma?” She said, “You’re fine. But can we have Papa changed for a while?” 😀

I couldn’t stop smiling. I know once she is back home from school, she’ll again be Papa’s princess and will keep on calling him till he reaches home. And then she’ll have her list of complaints against Mamma. 🙂

~~~~~

Picture courtesy: Google Image Search
Picture courtesy: Google Image Search

I seriously do not like kids crying while having food.

The main reason being that all my childhood, I have had food while I was crying. (I hope Acha, my fatheris reading this.) Acha was pretty strict about finishing food and eating what is served. He would walk the length of the room as Amma fed me. And I was always crying because I couldn’t manage to finish the food. As he moved the other way, Amma used to eat a few bites herself to help me from getting scolded again and again.

That is one reason I do not force my kids. I believe that kids eat enough for themselves. Even our pediatrician said so. If they refuse to eat anything at all, I do give them my piece of mind and they do agree and eat food after that. As much as they can. But since I myself do not like being forced to do anything, I do not like forcing anybody for anything. I serve them only as much as they can finish and they have the liberty of asking for more if they wish. Forced eating I feel leads to the kids throwing up later or falling ill. I feel anything that is done happily serves the purpose and anything done unhappily only leads to further displeasure or unhappiness. May be I am wrong. But that’s how it is. 

~~~~~

Food is something I rarely comment on. Until unless a food item is awfully pathetic I wouldn’t utter anything against it. All I do is to take minimal serving of the food item. Why go far, the vendor at our office sometimes brings something called tadka dal and we literally have to jump into it and swim across to find 3-4 grains of dal. I still never complained. Of course, I did record my displeasure in the feedback register. 😉 A trait imbibed in me by my Dad during his 10 year vanavasa. We used to write letters regularly to each other and Dad always shared his official trips to various countries and the different food items that he tried. I especially remember his Philippines trip during the year 1994 when Sushmita Sen won the Miss. Universe pageant.

In one of the letters he mentioned having tasted crabs and lobsters. I wrote back to him with a ‘Yuck! That’s terrible’. His reply was a letter which made me accept that we should be thankful for every bite of food that we get to eat because there are plenty of people on earth who do not even get that one bite. He also mentioned that one must adapt themselves to eat anything that they get if they truly wanted to survive. He connected it with the food chain. I still have that letter in my collection of Letters from a Father to his Daughter.

~~~~~

My first international trip was in February 2004 (just a year after marriage) to Bangkok, Thailand. Since we were working in the same organization, hubby too was travelling on that trip. In those days, we got only a fixed amount in dollars for our expense during the official stay. Salaries were in lower four figures and we were a bunch that were taught to save as much as for the rainy days. So there I was with hubby calculating every single expense, telling ourselves multiple times that this is not something we can’t live without, killing our urge to buy something interesting every single time. Money honestly was an issue during those days because we had just started living independently and were trying hard to prove that our decision to be together was a well-thought one. Thus we used to save enough from the fixed allowance which helped us come back with enough money to buy some big utility item for our dream home.

It was during that trip that I along with hubby and some more colleagues went out to have lunch. We went to a local shop, which we were told was the only one which offered vegetarian food (they selected that one only because I was a vegan during those days. So sweet naa 🙂 ). Thailand streets have a strange kind of smell which nauseated me. We sat down and the boys (sales reps from hubby’s team) ordered vegetarian food for the bhabhi. First came the yellow-colored plastic plates and then came the rice, pure white. Then came the main dish, a blood red colored liquid which smelled awful. I took just one bite and I ran out of the place. That trip was awful until the last night when our MD met us in the hotel lobby and took us to Sukumvit Soi, where there were lots of Indian restaurants including vegetarian ones. We had a celebratory meal at Dosa Corner. A simple single masala dosa in that year costed us around 800 bucks. :-/ That was a realization for me that you can never be sure that you’ll get your kind of food at all time and within your budget.

Another episode was my trip to New York in August 2007. Jet lag was a major trouble and then there was food. There were those boiled veggies, sauces and other dishes which I couldn’t make out as vegetarian or non-vegetarian. But by this time, I had started taking non-vegetarian food occasionally. Thanks to the husband! So, I managed with some boiled corns, salads, and steamed beans and fish. Though I would not say, I had them happily. On our last night there, along with a colleague I went to Saravana Bhavan at Lexington Avenue and had a sumptuous meal. But these trips were eye-openers and I accepted that one has to be ready for adaptability if one wishes to survive and excel under all circumstances.

A lesson I wish Anu learns sooner.

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43 Replies to “Kids and Eating Disorder”

  1. Don’t worry, they both will – they are my angels.

    Thanks for your criticism and the later part as well. Your experience has taught you of the necessity of adapting to the given circumstances, which was my intention all along.

  2. Since I eat nonveg, I don’t face as many issues are vegetarians do.

    About food, to have to eat it under dire circumstances is different.. but to make a child eat something they detest, that is another thing altogether

    1. Very true. I hate to make the day begin on a bad note for anybody, specially the kids. Though I agree what the father did was not in bad taste at all. It is tough being a Mom, especially if you’re from the senti lot. That’s all I can say. 🙂

  3. My grandfather used to say that kids stop eating when they have eaten enough. So, it was good for us kids when he was around. 🙂 Nice post. 🙂

  4. Thanfully for me the exotic factor of food increases all the more if I hvnt ever teasted it…. so hvnt really faced a issue when am travelling But yea I so empathise with what u saying .. I hv a sister who loves her rice, sabar v much 🙂

  5. Wow, that was quite a post inspired by something as simple as your little one crying over some food that she didn’t like. And you know what the best part about the post was, the fact that your dad was the first one to comment on it 🙂 Typical Grandfatherly comment there “they are my angels” 😀 How cute is that 😀

    Lovely post.

    1. Oh I just need to take the name of the girls and he’ll stand up for them at any hour of the day. 😀 Yes, typical grandfatherly comment it is. 🙂

      I am now missing my grandpa. 😦

  6. Don’t worry Rekha; They will. Great post, inspired by your childhood memories and experiences. As for the force feeding bit, have to agree 100%. Kids know their stomachs, and hence their appetite. And just like us, for them too, the appetite is governed by a number of factors and moods; so go easy and they’ll be absolutely great.

    1. Thanks Sid! Yes, with time they do get disciplined with the food intake on their own.
      And you know what, my Dad used to force me to eat when I was a child and now he is the one who asks me to be mindful of what I eat. What a contrasting statement…huh! 😀

  7. Very true one should not be very fussy about food . It does become a problem while travelling abroad. I also believe that kids should eat as much as they can. Even I’m against forced eating. They normally eat better after a good session of physical activity. Great experiences and great lessons.

    1. Yes, let them play for an hour or two and then you don’t even have to ask them to eat. They’ll eat it all up even before you complete the sentence. 😀

  8. My mum always says the same thing – force feeding is no and when Kids are hungry – they will let us know.
    Also, my mum never allowed us to sulk over food.. no throwing tantrums either…
    I’m glad she was strict, because that taught us discipline and the fact that food is not something that should be wasted…

    1. Very true Pixie! I feel a kid who has survived the age of one will surely be able to understand when hunger strikes. They eat enough for their appetite. It is us who always worry about the amount that’ll be alright for them. Yes, we need to discipline them and teach them not to waste food. I once showed the girls a video clip of some kids who ate food thrown away by people at McD or a similar outlet and trust me that did make a lot of impact on the first-born. The second one I believe is a bit small to understand it yet.

  9. My son has always been a very picky eater. It is exasperating! Still the doctor always assured me that my son would eventually let me know what he likes and when he is hungry he will eat. It has taken extreme patience on my part and real observance to figure out what works for him and what doesn’t. It helps keep the tears and tantrums to almost nonexistence which is a big relief.

    1. I have personally observed that if you try to force feed them, they are sure to make tantrums. It is always better to keep the situation lighter and joyous. They do finish off fast without tears and tantrums.

  10. I too feel that at dinner table everyone needs to eat in peace. And any kind of distraction or disturbance is unwarranted. More so with kids. I was a very fussy child and often I too like you had to eat in tears or at least anger. That kind of eating never really adds anything to your body. SO upto an extent you are correct. But then kids never want to eat anything healthy! What to do!!

    Richa

  11. Thankfully, no kid in our family was/is fussy eater. But we have had strict rules… whatever is cooked at home has to eaten and whatever is in the plate has to be finished. Hope you have lots of smiles on your dining table every day! Cheers 🙂

    1. That is one rule I have at home too Shilpa! Eat whatever is cooked. And guess what, the kids do eat whatever is cooked. It’s the father who is fussy about it. He takes only a select list of veggies, whereas the kids eat anything that I cook. All the more reason for my displeasure…isn’t it? 😀

  12. I used to crib about my Dad to Mom and Mom to Dad 😀 …. typical Child syndrome! 😛 … And like Anu I also never liked to have anything before knowing the taste or its history… and but now I eat anything that can be put inside my mouth 😀

    1. Yeah, typical Child syndrome. Anu just needs to be coerced a bit, and then she’ll eat it. But if you try to force it on her, she looses it. She eats everything that I ask her to. I believe it’s the way you bring it to her. Who likes to be forced? 😀

  13. Vegetarians can have a very tough time while travelling abroad. In many countries, ‘vegetarian’ generally means ‘no meat’. Thus, meat stock is used to prepare various vegetable items.
    A vegetarian who travels abroad must either be able to adapt a bit or must have tons of money since ‘Pure Vegetarian’ restaurants are generally pretty expensive. (A couple of decades back, even money couldn’t buy ‘pure veg’ food in some countries!)

    1. Oh yes! I completely forgot about that bit. They use Pork oil in Bangkok, so I guess there are no vegetarians left in my company. 😀
      Vegetarian food is pretty costly compared to non-vegetarian in many countries. That’s why I love my India. Khao piyo mast raho! There’s enough varieties available for all categories. 😀

    1. Oh yes! The sad part is my girls don’t like Pizza and that is my favourite. 🙂 They prefer home-cooked food and even when we eat outside, they themselves declare the food to be healthy or junk food. Advantages of Modern Day Education. 😀

  14. Lots of good food stories here, Rekha. It’s hard for non-vegetarians too travelling to some Asian countries, so I know how hard it can be for vegetarians!
    PS: Loved your daughter’s request for a new Dad! Kids!!! 🙂

  15. Well written Rekha! I agree to your point that forcing kids to eat only makes the kids to hate eating. Just like you, I don’t compel them to eat but I have learnt to set them timings to eat with a long gap in between..and soon when they are hungry they know they got to eat it 🙂

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