What a Healthy Relationship with Food Looks Like - a lesson from children
- Category: Coping Strategies
Two little girls, sisters, 5 and 7 years old, were spending the afternoon with me in my home. We are great friends.
We had been painting in my studio and running in the grass counting Buddhas (I have a lot of Buddhas in my garden).
Suddenly the five year old announced, "I'm hungry!"
The more demure seven year old gave her sister a look that said, not so loud and impolite, please while she looked at me and nodded, "Me, too."
I said, "Well, let's go look in the refrigerator and see what I've got."
They both grinned and ran into the house. The content of other people's refrigerators is fascinating to children.
We found a kind of apple they had never tasted, a fuji. Five said "no.". Seven said, "Try it. It might be good."
I peeled the apple. This was a task so totally expected and assumed that no verbal request was given. Five wordlessly handed me the apple with a most effective facial expression and automatic gesture that clearly informed me of my job.
They decided the apple was good. We also found some cottage cheese and carrots. So we peeled the carrots. I sliced the apple. We dished out the cottage cheese and sat in the dining room for lunch.
I put on some Mozart because we had been discussing the theory that listening to Mozart made children smarter.
The girls ate with gusto and no talking. Then they started talking a little as they ate more slowly. Then they talked even more and ate less. At one point the seven year old described how she felt listening to the music and wondered if she were getting smarter.
She then got up and danced. The five year old joined her. The remaining food on the table was forgotten as the girls leped and jumped to Mozart's music.
My experience? My imagery saw each child with a transparent fuel tank on her chest. When the fuel tank was empty they immediately felt hunger and knew it. The thought of food was exciting. Looking at the food, making decisions about it, preparing it was thrilling. Eating it was glorious.
As the gauge on the fuel tank registered an increase, their eating slowed. By the time the tank was full they had lost complete interest in the food. Not only that, but the burning fuel released energy to their minds and bodies and that energy turned into joyous dance.
I smiled at my cavorting little friends, thinking, This is what the absence of an eating disorder looks like. This is what a healthy relationship with food looks like.