Wednesday, April 07, 2010
That's it. I have had enough. I am at the end of my rope with the endless vortex of time spent feeding these kids. Something has to change...starting today.
I won't go into the history of our feeding woes, because it has been pretty well documented here. What I can say, with a trace of pride actually, is that we have made a TON of progress. Holland and Eden really enjoy food, and they are not picky eaters at all. They each have their preferences and eat their favorite foods with gusto. They have slowly but surely gained weight, and while both are still classified as "underweight" based on their BMIs, they are the closest to "normal weight" as they have ever been (and maybe ever will be).
That's where the pride ends and the guilt kicks in. We have clearly stalled in our operations. Yes, they eat, and yes, they enjoy eating. The problem is that we still have to feed them the vast majority of their meals bite-by-painful-bite.
This was acceptable to me for a long time. It was much more enjoyable than the active resistance to eating that we endured in the past. But I gotta admit that it is getting really old. Meals take forever. They are SO passive about eating that it is annoying. They do whatever they can to distract us, talking, playing, singing when they are supposed to be eating. There are many meals where they won't even pick up their fork and/or put One. Single. Bite. of food in their own mouths.
We are finally at a place where I feel like they WILL EAT if they are HUNGRY. This was not always true, and we resorted to feeding them in a (now deemed successful) attempt to avoid feeding tubes. But now, finally, I do trust that they will not starve themselves.
Soooo. Where do we go from here?
I read a book "How to get your Kid to Eat, but Not Too Much" by Ellyn Satter eons ago (before we were anywhere near ready to go there). It's a good book, with a lot of tips that make good sense to me. Her main philosophy is that it is our job as parents to decide what foods we will provide for our child, and our child's job to decide what and how much they will eat. Outside of our job of providing good, healthy, well-balanced meals, we should be entirely hands off about eating. This is pretty much the opposite of what we have going on right now and at this point our methods are not helping...and are maybe even harming Holland and Eden's relationship with food and with their bodies.
To put our new plan into place I (we) will have to do a lot of deep breathing and relaxation training. We are going to have to change A LOT about the approach we have been using up until now. It means more than just no more actually putting the bites in their mouths. It means no more verbal coaching, "take a bite, take a bite, take a bite." It means no more "5 more bites and you can go play." It means no more "if you finish your whole plate of food you can earn a surprise from the prize box!"
It means that we are going to really have to "keep our nerve" and let them do their jobs of deciding what and how much food they need to grow the way they are supposed to grow.
I started working on it at lunch today. I had a talk with them and told them that Mommy and Daddy and Nana and Papa aren't going to feed them their food any more. I told them that they are old enough now that they are ready to feed themselves. I made them a plate of food that I know they like...macaroni and cheese, sliced cucumbers, and pear cups. I sat with them and ate my lunch. I was finished with my meal before they took a single bite. Eventually they ate a couple of bites each, then they started with the games and I could feel my stress level rising. It was very difficult for me not to pick up their forks and start feeding them. I KNOW they would have finished most, if not all, of what I made for them if I fed it to them. Normally I would sit with them until they were done, but instead I HAD to walk away. I told them I had some work to do, and I set the timer for 20 minutes. I told them this was all the food they would have until later, so they should eat as much as they needed so they would not get hungry. And I left them to it. For the first 5 minutes they were quiet and eating. Then they just kinda sat there and goofed off until the timer rang. Each ate about 1/4 of a cup of pears, 4 slices of cucumber, and five good sized bites of mac and cheese. Maybe 100 calories worth of food...maybe.
About 2 hours later they started asking for snacks, and I set them up again with the rest of their mac and cheese. They each ate maybe another 2-3 bites and I ended up tossing the rest of it.
Dinner was pretty much a repeat of the same thing. We had chicken, rice, and green beans. They each ate most of their rice, and a couple bites of green beans and chicken. Again, maybe 100 calories.
If I can stay strong, I know hunger will kick in eventually. It's going to be tough to make it through the week though.
I feel like I need a coach, someone I can call when I am locked in the bathroom during meals to help me keep my nerve up and stay strong. I need someone to tell me...
They will eat when they are hungry.
They will not starve themselves.
They will eat what they need to grow.
They will grow at their own pace.
You are doing the right thing.
They will not die.
Posted by Billie at 9:55 PM