April 2008

“Uncommon Common Sense”

I have had people respond to my advice regarding kids and food and remark: “Isn’t this all just common sense?!”

And I respond: “Yes! Absolutely!” What I find amazing actually about parenting in urban areas these days, (I can’t speak for the country), is that I think alot of things however, that used to be ‘common sense’, are uncommon. Meaning, that common sense seems to be on the decline, and we are so bombarded by expert advice, that we can fail to use our instincts and again, I will say it, ‘common sense’. Parenting seems to be a career, vs. a natural evolution of the life cycle process that some do or don’t choose. I think in fact this comes with alot of moms delaying child rearing and giving up careers where they got to control alot of their work life. Parenting and kids are different than jobs. There is alot that we can control but more that we cannot. The key is figuring out where to stake your battles, your limits and what you want for your family life.

So, for all of you that rely on others for advice on what to do, or seek experts out to figure out what to do, think first of your own instincts.
I always say that you are the one who knows your kid best. You know yourself best too.

Not that our instinctual response as parents is always best. I have had to work really hard to veer away from my natural response at times, or especially emotional response in dealing with my kids sometimes. But even if you are working at controlling your own temper, (my problem at times,) and want to do something different than the way you were raised, try not to get too far from your instincts.

Usually you are dead on.

Tales From the Food Couch

Being that I am a therapist, and not just one that deals with food issues, I am going to start to share some dilemmas/problems that I work with, not only because of course we are all in part ‘voyeurs’ and are interested in other people’s stories, but because they truly can help us identify and learn things.

I of course will be obscuring the identities and issues so that everyone’s anonymity is protected. My family of course is excluded as they give me permission!

But I need to share with you guys one of the funniest things a mom who I interviewed about her own Food Legacy and how it was affecting her son who was a Picky Eater. She said to me: “My first experience with religion was with Weight Watchers, because my mother put me on a diet when I was 10, and the meetings were held in the temple.”

I thought this hysterical, but her struggle was so poignant as she talked of her frustration as she could not get her child to eat anything she tried to feed him. She herself always loved food, felt like she had to restrict food, always wanted more than she thought she could have, and had sworn that she would never ever put her kids on a diet or make them feel baadly about their eating habits in the way she had felt as a child and teenager. Everyone else was allowed to eat chips but her, for example, and she swears that she looks at photograhs of herself as a kid and sees that she certainly was not fat!

So here she is, and her kid just won’t eat. He is a small guy, barely has an appetite, and she can’t contain her frustration and anger when he won’t eat what she prepares for him. She sees the doctor, the doctor tells her to just ‘back off’ and stop worrying, her kid is fine, he is healthy, thriving and on his growth curve, and she goes nuts still when he fights her with food.

So as she is telling me her Food Legacy story and what she swore she would never do, it began to dawn on her that of course she was doing the same thing, only it appeared different. It was about under eating vs. over eating. As we began to laugh at that and she could examine her own behavior more, she could see that the more she pushed, the worse it got, and the more tension got created. Of course for small eaters, tension and anxiety just cuts down their appetite more.

So all of this is simply to share the struggles that I think we all do to different degrees and with different issues. We come to feeding our kids with our own Food Legacies, histories, and this certainly can impact how we behave with them and their developing relationship with food.

There is alot more that goes into giving our kids good eating habits than we think.

Happy Feeding!


I love one of the posts I just read about the secret to losing weight: taking in less food, and exercising more!

I am laughing because the common sense that it implies, is what I call these days: “Uncommon sense”. Why is it that we can’t seem to make certain connections about very basic things that seemed so easy for prior generations?

Now I am not only talking basic weight gain. Here. Simple input output. I do think it hysterical that someone asked me the other day about the new ‘blood diet’ and what did I think about it? Pure and simple insanity I say.

We always want a simple solution that doesn’t require too much thinking. I don’t even think that we mind the work. In fact people work so bloody hard trying to diet and exercise all the time, they give up. I think the work just goes in the wrong direction.

The blog just written recommended writing everything down that you eat. Doing a food log.

What that is basically trying to train people to do is actually to be aware of every bite they put in their mouth. I always thought it hilarious that my father, who was always on a diet and never ordered dessert, didn’t think the calories counted, when he took the dessert off of all of our plates! All four of them!

Or the moms who are feeding their kids and are starved themselves, who take bites here and there of their kids’ food. Or whatever is leftover on the plates.


Simple awareness of what you put in your mouth actually does take work. It takes focus and concentration. The problem is, many people out there don’t want to focus on what is going in, because then they feel too guilty.

Enough with the guilt now. Focus on your food. If you don’t have the patience to write it all down, try to be as conscious as you can at all times. Don’t let guilt get in the way.

Taste your food. Be aware of it in your mouth, and going down into your stomach. I can promise you that if you do this, not only will you invariably take in fewer calories overall, you actually might enjoy eating! You will feel satisfied and stop sooner.

The new ‘miracle diet’. Enjoy and be aware of your food!

We are still missing the boat with eating disorders

I was appalled the other day when reading this bit in the New York Times about anorexia. There was not one mention of the recent research and findings that there are genetic causes to eating disorders; particularly anorexia.

I know that it is easier to blame the media and family problems. There certainly are enough reasons girls want to lose weight with this insane emphasis on thinness that we see in the media day in and day out. But to ignore the 30 years of research and particularly, very valid findings that there are genetics that play into anorexia, and that the gene expresses itself in adolescence, is plain and simple, negligent.

We have spent too long as therapists, blaming families. There are new treatments available and the tide is turning toward supporting and helping coach families to help their children when this gene turns on and expresses itself. Let’s get out of the dark ages of seeing eating disorders as solely the blame of the media and families.

Remember how schizophrenia used to be seen? This for years was seen as an illness due to the ‘schizophrenogenic’ mother. Finally we are finding very real places in the brain and biological reasons that eating disorders get expressed in families. Let’s stop blaming and providing support. The tide is turning. We as the public need to know. For more information, go to websites like NEDA.org, and current research on eating disorders.

No more blaming. Let’s be proactive and try to avert risk and put into place supports that can help decrease the expression of these genes.