No Wellness Wankery

68: Demi's Real Story “I feel guilty if my child isn’t eating perfectly”

July 11, 2023 Lyndi Cohen
68: Demi's Real Story “I feel guilty if my child isn’t eating perfectly”
No Wellness Wankery
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No Wellness Wankery
68: Demi's Real Story “I feel guilty if my child isn’t eating perfectly”
Jul 11, 2023
Lyndi Cohen

In this week’s Real Story, we meet Demi.  And we are SO glad to have met her. 

Demi is currently raising her 15 month old son, all while recovering from an eating disorder that has controlled her life for over 15 years. Big stuff.

 After years of battling bulimia, anorexia, and orthorexia, she decided to seek help to ensure a healthier narrative for little boy. But as many women can relate too, body image issues often intensify during pregnancy and unwanted comments can bring a constant reminder back to appearance and weight.

Challenging diet rules and trusting our bodies is another crucial part of the journey. And now it is time for Demi to make meals and food choices for her son. Lyndi helps  with ways to break down food rules without overwhelming the system too much.

Spoiler: One rule at a time.

Social media may paint a different picture, but feeding our kids is not a competition, but a journey of learning and teaching.

Raising children is hard enough. As parents let’s celebrate the small victories along the way.

📘💫BOOK TIP: If you want to stop handing down disordered eating like a family heirloom and raise kids who have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies - read Lyndi's book Your Weight is Not the Problem. It's been ranked the #1 Women’s Health book on Amazon for 10 weeks straight and is probably the best investment you’ll make in your health for under $30. Get the deets and access to a free audio sample of the book HERE.

Get my Free 5 Day Course to help you stop binge and emotional eating. 

Try my Back to Basics app FREE for 7 days.
It's got everthing you need to be healthy without dieting at your fingertips.

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy


Want to feel more in control around food? Check out my Stop Struggling With Food Guide. You’ll also find 50 of my favourite recipes to get you inspired!

If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this week’s Real Story, we meet Demi.  And we are SO glad to have met her. 

Demi is currently raising her 15 month old son, all while recovering from an eating disorder that has controlled her life for over 15 years. Big stuff.

 After years of battling bulimia, anorexia, and orthorexia, she decided to seek help to ensure a healthier narrative for little boy. But as many women can relate too, body image issues often intensify during pregnancy and unwanted comments can bring a constant reminder back to appearance and weight.

Challenging diet rules and trusting our bodies is another crucial part of the journey. And now it is time for Demi to make meals and food choices for her son. Lyndi helps  with ways to break down food rules without overwhelming the system too much.

Spoiler: One rule at a time.

Social media may paint a different picture, but feeding our kids is not a competition, but a journey of learning and teaching.

Raising children is hard enough. As parents let’s celebrate the small victories along the way.

📘💫BOOK TIP: If you want to stop handing down disordered eating like a family heirloom and raise kids who have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies - read Lyndi's book Your Weight is Not the Problem. It's been ranked the #1 Women’s Health book on Amazon for 10 weeks straight and is probably the best investment you’ll make in your health for under $30. Get the deets and access to a free audio sample of the book HERE.

Get my Free 5 Day Course to help you stop binge and emotional eating. 

Try my Back to Basics app FREE for 7 days.
It's got everthing you need to be healthy without dieting at your fingertips.

Looking for more support to feel in control around food? I'd love to support you in my Binge Free Academy


Want to feel more in control around food? Check out my Stop Struggling With Food Guide. You’ll also find 50 of my favourite recipes to get you inspired!

If you don't already - come follow me on the gram at @nude_nutritionist (no nude pics, sorry).

Want to share some feedback or have an idea for an episode, I'd LOVE to hear from you - hit me up at hello@lyndicohen.com

Lyndi:

Oh, hi everyone, and welcome to today's episode of No Wellness Wankery. I'm so happy to have you here today. I'm joined by Demi and we're going to have another real story, a real chat around what's happened for Demi, and thanks for coming on the show. I'm grateful that you're turning up on the show, because I feel like the things that you're currently working through are hopefully going to help other people who are working through it as well. Can you start me from the beginning? When did you start having a tricky relationship with food?

Demi:

Yeah, so I actually remember the exact moment I was aware of my body being a thing that people judge. I was in year six, skipping, and a friend said oh, look at your overhang when you jump. And it was just a passing comment. However, it really stuck, and I think in particular because the language at home was very much around thin being the ideal a woman's worth was based on what they look like. Lots of comments, like you know, a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips, and foods were very much either good or bad, and by me thinking that my body was perhaps being criticized for being fat, i then started fearing rejection, and not just from my parents but from society as a whole. From that point, i suppose I started being more conscious of the foods that I was eating, and then in early high school I was diagnosed with bulimia And then the purging stopped after a while and I thought that I had conquered my eating disorder, but I had really just replaced it with anorexia and orthorexia, and it really took me a while to figure that out.

Demi:

A few years ago, knowing that I suppose I wanted to have children soon and I knew that I needed to get my body right. I got an eating disorder plan from the GP. I think that was, you know, similar to what Tanya was saying a few episodes ago. It was because I didn't want to pass on any toxic behaviors to my kids. So I had a few years focusing on my recovery And then when I became pregnant, i stopped seeing my psychologist which was a silly thing to do, but anyway, hindsight And then a few weeks after I gave birth, my eating disorder became really loud again and I became quite unwell again. So for me the hardest thing has been all of the comments from everybody commenting on my body post pregnancy and also while I was pregnant, and I feel like people never compliment me on being a good mum but they're so fast to say something about my appearance which just feeds the eating disorder. So I'm seeing a new psychologist now who has helped Oh my gosh so much And I have come such a long way.

Demi:

But I know I've still got quite a journey to go, and I suppose that's why I've reached out to you, because when I started feeding my son solids he's now 15 months, so he's only eats food I found it quite triggering, because a huge thing for me is not knowing what normal eating is, so I overthink everything that I'm feeding him. I stress over wanting to make every meal perfect. I have so many food rules in my brain that I just think are facts, and it's really been hard to try and unravel that and to realize this isn't actually a fact. This is just something that you've heard along the way, diet culture has fed you and you now think it's a fact. Now I'm starting to worry about not having control with him in terms of if he's being looked after by the family members, not being able to control what he's eating, and I just don't want to have that mindset anymore. So, yeah, that's where I'm at now.

Lyndi:

Oh, i mean, this is a lot and I am excited to talk about this because hopefully we can do some juicy stuff together. Can we talk about that orthorexia and anorexia back from when you were younger And I feel like sometimes perhaps a reason tell me if this is right we don't actually end up getting treatment is because it is quite socially endorsed, just like the example of when you're post baby and people are making comments and what they're doing is they are feeding that eating disorder by making these comments about your size, about your body And in a way, it's like they're giving you a thumbs up. How do you feel within?

Demi:

that Spot on. I feel like there's so many compliments that people can give you, but what everybody thinks is the nicest thing to say is you look great, your body's amazing. I can't believe you just had a baby. Which people aren't being horrible, obviously they're trying to be nice, but all it does is feed the eating disorder. And I remember when I've been in the throws because obviously it's kind of been more hectic at times and settled down at other times And whenever you get to that spot, where you are really struggling is when I'm at my skinniest, but then that's also when you're getting the most compliments from people. So it is really confusing to try to unravel that.

Lyndi:

It's so hard And I think you're right. People do really think that they're saying something nice And I think this is why we talk about this is why we don't give appearance based compliments. Sometimes it is going to do often is doing a lot more harm than we actually think it is.

Lyndi:

Can we talk about this idea of being able to trust your brain? Because I think that's one of the trickiest things with eating disorder recovery is this idea you have, that you have your brain and your brain is something that you trust to guide you through life, your intuition, your gut reaction facts, the way you think, the blueprint you have for life And during eating disorder recovery. It's a tricky thing because it's the slow realizing that you can't always trust your brain, that it doesn't always have your back, and it's that challenging and that discomfort that I think is the hardest thing, because you get to a point where you go can I trust this? And at some point you're going. I don't know which part of my brain is helping me and which one's hindering me, but do you feel like you're at a point now where you can just you can pick up the difference between that eating disorder voice and your normal voice?

Demi:

I can. I feel like I'm definitely getting better at that. The thing that I struggle with is, even if I can disconnect the two and I can see that my eating disorder is telling me something and logical Demi is saying no, that's silly The guilt that happens afterwards is still really prevalent and still really strong. And that's what I struggle with that overwhelming feeling after the fact of not eating something that was safe or, you know, binging. And then it's the next day trying not to go back to those old habits of restricting and trying to make up for it. You know it's that all or nothing, it's Yes, even if I can push past the end of sort of waste, this still that overarching guilt that's attached to it which is incredibly uncomfortable to sit with, and then, as you said, the hard thing is to go.

Lyndi:

How does that guilt, which is an awful thing to deal with, how does that then not translate into another behavior that's going to keep the cycle going? can we talk about your psychological is that you're seeing at the moment? what advice have they been giving you it? has there been any things that have really sparked a moment of going? okay, this, i'm going to try this out.

Demi:

I suppose a lot of my eating disorder is based around the fear of not being perfect and therefore not being loved, just because the way that I took on information growing up that I did think that a woman's worth was based on their appearance, and it's that fear of if I'm not skinny or whatever it is, that You will be rejected, and so it's really working through that to go well. My work is actually so much more than that. It's people will love me unconditionally, regardless of what I look like, because I don't Fundamentally believe that it is not like I pick and solely choose my friends based on what they look like, based on their way. That is so something that's not important to me, but it's crazy that the eating disorder sets the standard for me that's so unrelenting, like, truly at heart. It's not something that I think is important in a person, but for some reason for me I've made it the pinnacle.

Lyndi:

Absolutely. can you talk a little bit more about, i guess, what you consider perfect eating versus normal eating? do you know for yourself what normal eating looks like?

Demi:

No, and that's the thing, because I have struggled with some form of an eating disorder for so long now probably over 15 years, i think. My mom never really ate that much. My dad ate Too much. There was never. I never had good role models.

Demi:

I don't and, like you said before, i don't trust myself. I don't trust the decisions that I'm making and I've categorized food as safe and unsafe. If I wasn't trying to recover from my eating disorder, i would live in the safe zone by only eating the foods that I deem safe, because I didn't want to have that uncomfortable feeling. But now I'm trying to break out of that to say I go to a cafe and I have a muffin, that something that I don't consider safe. Then in my mind I'm going I really like that, can I have it tomorrow? And then sometimes I'm like, well, yeah, you can have it tomorrow. And then I'm like, well, can I have it every day? And it's this all or nothing of well, if you can't have it every day, then you shouldn't have it. Or, you know, try.

Demi:

I'm trying to make these rules in my mind and I wish there was a handbook. And, yeah, i have no idea what normal is and that's what I'm struggling with my son to go. You know, say, i give him a banana with his breakfast and then he goes to mother-in-law's and then she gives him a banana, and then someone else gives him a banana. I'm like, oh my goodness, he's had three bananas today. Like what's going on? I'm freaking out, just little things like that. And what's the?

Lyndi:

fear of he had three bananas. This is exactly right.

Demi:

What's the fear? I think it's the fear that there's so many other things that he could be eating instead of all of those bananas, and just because he's winging for a banana, we shouldn't just give him the banana, because then he might become fussy and only pick and select the certain things that he wants.

Lyndi:

I hear. I hear what you're saying. You know it's tricky is that you do want your kid to have a healthy diet and you want them to have a healthy relationship with food, but we don't want to do that at the cost of them becoming preoccupied with food. And this is the real, fundamental challenge here, and expression that comes to mind is this idea of when we've been holding our breath, we gasp for air and when we feel like we're not allowed to have food, we binge on it.

Lyndi:

So currently in your brain, you don't yet have this safe food environment. You don't have yet the point that food, there is a reliable access to food because you have all these food rules that are constantly percolating in your brain And as a result, they're basically saying, like the muffin example, i'm allowed to have it now, but can I have it tomorrow? could I have it the next day? and at no point is there ever this full trust and belief that anytime I want muffin, i'm allowed to have muffin. As a result is the eating disorders like we need to double down on this food rule because if we don't have this food rule, we're going to lose control. We won't be able to stop eating. So it comes down to this idea that we think these food rules are helpful. Do you think you believe that your your food rules protect you and keep you healthy, or do you feel that they're actually getting in the way of you eating healthily?

Demi:

Oh, they get in the way for sure, because it's an unrelenting standard that makes eating not enjoyable. That makes me want to avoid social situations where I'm not in control and that made me miss out on a lot growing up because of that fee and that fear of not having control over a situation. And now I'm a lot better than I was. I've come so far, but the food rules definitely do not help in any way. It just makes me more confused.

Lyndi:

Exactly and I think this is a very important thing to know about food rules. So often, over years and years of eating disorders, of dieting, we accumulate hundreds of diet rules, and sometimes these diet rules contradict each other. We see them often as something that helps us, is something that that's you know these rules are supportive, but I feel like you've reached that point where you've realized these are not supportive at all, and then what we need to start doing is we need to start picking off these diet rules one by one, and sometimes I think what happens is we try and just go I'm just going to reduce all diet rules, and that can feel really overwhelming. Have you ever sat down and ridden out your, your, your food rules?

Demi:

I actually, after reading your book, i was laying in bed and I was thinking about all of the diet rules that I had and so many came up and, as I've been feeding my son, so many thoughts I have. And then I can I take a step back and I go. Is that actually a fact? or if I just made that up in my head? or have I heard it from diet culture somewhere along the way and have held on to it for some reason and are now seeing it as a fact?

Lyndi:

I love that you're challenging them, but you're kind of going listen, i could see how this is silly, but at the same time, you have that brain going. Can we trust us? what do we trust? we trust this food rule or we're going to trust our gut instinct? What is there at the moment? Okay, so, ideally, what we're going to be doing at some point is we're going to start to destroy a diet rule one step at a time, and I think it's best, best taken by taking one diet rule that you think is having the biggest impact in your life, or it could be the one that's like the lowest hanging fruit, the easiest one to dispel, and we might start going after it. So it might be something like actually, no, why don't you inform me what? is there a diet rule that you kind of feel like it's occupying too much headspace or it tends to come back to this nutrients or this food rule?

Demi:

Oh gosh, there's so many. The easiest one that comes to is not having too much dairy, and I think that's such a common one, especially in today's age with all of the different milks out there on the market.

Lyndi:

The dairy one always seems to rattle me, for some reason. What does this food?

Demi:

rule tell you that if you had too much dairy, what would be the cost? Well, that it's fattening if you have full fat dairy and then if you have lower fat dairy, then there could be additives, etc. So what's out there is that dairy can cause acne or any sort of inflammatory skin, things like that.

Lyndi:

And I'm glad you realize these are all myths. I mean I could I could throw a lot of research out that says you know people who have full fat milk. They don't tend to weigh more. There are actually are no additives in reduced or skim milk. It's just changing of the lactose levels. It's just a recomposition, not an additive, and it isn't linked with acne and breakouts. I assume you know this, though.

Demi:

It's like I do know it, but It's so hard to separate What my logic is and what my eating disorder is trying to hold on to you because it feels safe. So I do push past it. But when I go to the supermarket to buy my yogurt, I'm still buying the no fat one And I'm like why do I keep doing that? And it's because I don't want to sit with the discomfort, because With the work that I'm doing at the moment There's a lot of Pushing through discomfort and I'm like that's one small thing that I can do to make myself feel safe in the day that isn't going to Add on to the extra levels of stress that I'm feeling trying to eat all these other stuff that I don't feel comfortable with. I think.

Lyndi:

I think that's a really valid point, though We don't be challenging too much. All at the same time. You are a mother of a 15 month old. That is incredibly hard. Whilst recovering from an eating disorder, this is a huge thing to be taking on. So if going for a safe yogurt is What makes you feel like you're getting through, then I think that is totally fine. I guess the question is what are we going to start? challenging that you feel like is a burning platform Is the most important thing for us to be working on.

Lyndi:

Can we talk about your son for a sec? and What's happening now with his eating? It sounds like you're trying to be careful not to Apply any food rules. How's that going?

Demi:

It's really hard. I spend so much time cooking for me and my husband and then cooking for my son and It's starting to get really difficult because as he's getting older and he's been looked after by different people and I do Have to lose control in some aspects. It's just hard to lose control. So I've got this cookbook and you hear so much about as you've spoken about on the podcast before about the fruit bats and not having them Have too much fruit, which I'm really relaxed about fruit, but it's more me getting caught up on everything having to be natural, not organic, but no additives. You know, always the natural yogurt. So then if you go somewhere and has a yogurt, that's not one of the ones that I think is safe.

Demi:

I have this pang of anxiety and And I'm cooking all of his meals and Every now and then we just give him toast for dinner because I haven't had time to preparing something, even though He's had a cooked breakfast and a cooked lunch. And then I beat myself up. But I'm giving him toast and my husband's like, damn, it's not a big deal, he's had a great breakfast, he's had a great lunch, he can have toast. What would be the difference if he had toast for breakfast or toast for dinner There is no difference. But for me, i think it's that perfectionism coming out, wanting everything to be perfect and feeling like I'm Failing if I'm giving him something like that.

Lyndi:

I think the fact that you're turning up and you're providing him with meals here's food on the table that you know You are putting thought into what goes into his body. I think that is excellent and I think we have such a high standard when it comes to feeding our kids that it's become So overwhelming. I'm sure you've seen the memes where it's like what was a lunchbox in the 90s versus a lunchbox now, and it is. The pressure has become so much harder and higher on on parents. But we think about toddler nutrition. I want you to think about the context of the entire month, not just the day. So you might go. Well, today Wasn't a perfect day, but in the scheme of it, what we really want is we want them to have a Mix of nutrients and at the same time, we also want them to have variety. So if we're constantly feeding them the same foods that are within our safe control, there is a limit to how much variety they can have. So thinking about those times where he's diet goes off-piste, what if they were actually a really great opportunity Where your someone else is doing the feeding for you so you can kind of let go of that moment because For him to get a little bit more variety in a different moment of time is actually an excellent thing for him nutritionally. I can go into details about how this is really beneficial for our gut microbiome, because it is really important that we're getting a Variety of things and that maybe that's just a really great opportunity to do that. I just want to go back to this idea of having a reliable and safe food environment and Knowing that he can have things that he wants is one of the things we want to really give him. We want to give him the opportunity to know that if he wants to have this food, he can have it anytime he wants, and then he can start to tune into his body and his body is going to guide him.

Lyndi:

What an eating disorder does is it takes away the trust we have from our body. It tells us that we need to control food with our brain because our body won't do a good enough job, and it's the exact opposite. Is what we once trained reverse. We want to get to the point where we're realizing actually our body Knows what it needs to eat and it feels. It feels good when we're eating a mix of things, and that's not just perfectly healthy stuff. It is a mix of things you're currently very much coming at it from your brain and That I am going to control with my head, as opposed to what my body says. I Give an example of kids around Easter time where parents might be like I don't want to give my kid Easter eggs, or I'll give them one Easter egg and I'll ration them and I know this might feel like a bit of a big idea, but really what would happen if we said to our child you have free reign to eat whatever you wanted?

Lyndi:

Let's say they did eat. They demolished an entire bag of Easter eggs. At some point their body is going to say to them that didn't feel good and I don't want to do that again. That doesn't. That doesn't give me the best sensation. However, if we're always controlling their environment so they can never get to the point where they can realize that doesn't feel good, then what we're doing is we're creating a bit of that unsafe food environment for them where they feel like I have.

Lyndi:

When I get access to this food When mom's not around, i'm going to try and get as much of it as I possibly can and And they never end up getting that feeling of that satiation, to say I have had enough. This is, this is good, this is feeding me and fueling me, and so I think that's one of the hugest challenges is to kind of step back and to trust that his body if you provide the, you know, a balance of stuff that his body will be able to guide him on how much he needs to eat and what types of foods he needs To eat. Of course, this is within reason, but I think you know, give an example of him going to a birthday party. As he gets older, he's going to go to these birthday parties. You're not going to be able to hold his hands and be like, let's make sure you don't eat all the food there, and I actually think those opportunities are going to be incredibly beneficial for him.

Lyndi:

Rather than seeing it as a Scary thing, a negative thing, an unhealthy thing. It's actually the exact opposite. It is an incredible opportunity for him to learn about food trust within himself in an environment that you, i, need to step back from. I Know that all sounds a bit scary. How do you? how does it feel?

Demi:

to you. I love that and it's a great way of looking at it, and I think I really want him to be intuitive, like I Do believe that he will stop eating when he's full, and Some people see how much he eats because he is a big eater and freak out and say he's eating too much Or I'm feeding him too much. But I do firmly believe that. No like, if he's not hungry for one meal and he doesn't want to eat, i'm fine with that, and if he's really hungry at another meal and he wants more and more and more, he can do that because he knows he's got three set meals a day and a couple of snacks in between And it's up to him if he wants to eat or not.

Demi:

Whereas I know I do get a little bit of pushback from people thinking that I'm feeding him too much, but I'm a firm believer that he trusts himself, he doesn't have any diet rules. He trusts his belly, he knows where he's at. It's exactly like the mindset of an eating disorder is Scarcity. So then all you think about and all you want is food, because you all you do is tell yourself that you can't have it Or you shouldn't have it.

Lyndi:

Exactly How does it feel as well with people making comments that It's suggesting that he's eating too much. It?

Demi:

used to bother me, but now I don't really listen to it anymore because he's a great eater and I would much rather him be a Good eater than not. And I see they might see it just for one meal and think it's crazy, but I see him every day, for almost every meal, and there are some meals that he doesn't really eat much And I know that I don't have to freak out about that because I know that he's not lacking in food.

Lyndi:

I'm so interested in this process that's happening right now. So it's almost like what you're saying to me is the exact words you would tell your brain if that thought came up. You would say of course, he's gonna eat more on Sundays and less on other days. You are basically, you've got the food thought that comes up, the rule, the diet voice, the eating disorder voice, and you're counteracting it with some logical thinking going. No, this is why we are choosing and it's a choice Not to believe this way of thinking anymore. And so this is why it's so important when we're aware that the diet, that the eating disorder voice, is talking, because we can kind of go Okay, we think this might be a logical and we're trying to counteract it with much more of that logical conversation, exactly what you just did there. This is what we now need to do and we would need to replicate with other diet rules as they come along, with the exact same process Where you reach a point where you go I'm at a crossroads.

Lyndi:

Do I choose to continue to believe this diet rule or am I going to counteract it in the same way I have before? and diet rules, they get Diminished and diminished over time. So they start off quite loud and they can be quite persistent and they can keep coming up and we need to Keep dispelling them and with time that voice, that eating disorder rule, it gets reduced and reduced. So now the impact of someone making a comment like oh wow, he really eats a lot You can, much more quickly than ever before, minimize how much airspace that takes up in your brain by of some self-talk and reducing it, whereas before it would have actually occupied quite a bit more time in your in your brain than you would have liked. So just to be clear about that's the process that you were already doing and it's about Replicating that in other situations further on.

Demi:

Also a very good way of looking at it And I'll definitely try to do that going forward. And I think that, because I'm so conscious of How crazy my brain is because of the eating disorder, i'm overthinking everything with Reggie and sometimes it Helps me in terms of trying to be really relaxed around me all times. If he doesn't want to eat, it's so fine, we just move on, we don't make it a thing. But then other times it hinders me when I'm overthinking what to give him at that time. So Yeah, it's a journey.

Lyndi:

It's a journey when you say Sometimes it feels like you want to control it more. Is there any reason why there are some meals where, or Sometimes where, it feels a bit harder to step back?

Demi:

I think I'm always really Layed back in terms of how much he wants to eat. Whether he doesn't want to eat, i never stress out about that, it's more the preparing of the food. So say, for instance, i haven't Been able to meal prep for him, so for breakfast I give him oats and then say for lunch I have to give him a sandwich and then for dinner I don't really have anything. So then I'm scrambling around to make him kind of a bit of a random mix plate and I really struggle with that because I'm thinking You've had toast the past three nights in a row for, or the past three lunches in a row. I feel like I'm failing or I feel like there's just better things that I could be giving him, and I think I'm still working out how to just cook the one meal that's a family meal for him to have as well.

Lyndi:

I think that takes a long time to get to the full family meal where they're eating absolutely everything. I know that books say by one they should be eating what the rest of the family's eating. I personally think that's a very high bar to try and reach. I have a two and a half year old who now only just eats what the family is eating, and I'm a dietitian Okay, so I think that's a very high bar and standard, so it's okay.

Lyndi:

Now it is that the tricky thing is having that mental load on yourself and the physical load of having to prepare all these meals. And I think eating toast for dinner, as your husband so beautifully pointed out, is like what's the difference between it being breakfast? I think that's spot on. I think what's most important than getting this perfect diet is creating a safe food environment. So every time you have that thought going, oh, i shouldn't have eaten that or he's missing this, remind yourself that the safe food environment, which is the belief system that food is allowed, there isn't scarcity, there is plentifulness, i don't have to eat perfectly. That is more important than eating perfect meals, which is impossible anyway. Another note about toddlers it's actually much easier than you think for them to get the nutrients that they need, and I've seen lots of Instagram accounts that make me feel stressed about how I'm inadequate in the way that I'm feeding my child. So a very important thing is to check your social media feeds, and I would unsubscribe from I think you're going to guess which social media sites if you know them. You need to unsubscribe from particular podcast, the ones that will kind of talk about, you know, fruit bats and why we need to kind of avoid all those things. I think we need to avoid that information. The information is doing more harm than good.

Lyndi:

Let's talk about some simple key nutrients that we might be worried that our toddlers or our little kids are not eating. Let's go with protein. Protein is actually much easier than you think for little kids to get protein. Bread contains protein, oats contains protein, peanut butter contains protein, and without those three foods in the day, you'd easily smash your protein requirements, and so I think we have a bit of a concern that we're not going to get there. We are fruit and vegetables and nutrients and fruits and vegetables. These are the same nutrients for the most part. So if he's a great fruit eater, he's getting his veggie nutrients as well. You don't need to double down on them And the serving size requirement is quite low for it. Iron is the only one that can get a little bit tricky, so I know that when you reached out to me, you did mention liver for kids, bone broth. Can we talk about that?

Demi:

Yes, So I give him liver quite often, which is fine quite often, or maybe once a week, around once a week, or once every two weeks, because I know you can't have it that often. But it's hard because we don't eat liver, my husband and I. So I'm preparing a meal with him with this little bit of liver, or making more to freeze, and it's a little bit gross, but that's what I've read, that that's the best form of iron for them And it's really nutrient dense. And then also I've read about bone broth. So I make a you know a 24 hour bone broth and I fill up the freezer and give him bits of bone broth, and I'm making all these things that take so long. And then on the days when he doesn't want to eat it, i'm like, oh, my goodness, i'm just going to have to chuck that out, or that was just a waste. He doesn't like it this time because obviously one day they love it, the next day, of course, they don't like it anymore.

Lyndi:

So yes, it's, it's a stressful being a parent feeding a child. Yes, so that's the first thing it is. It is tricky and irrespective of your history of an eating disorder, it is always a tricky thing. It is heightened for you. The iron thing it is important for them to be getting iron rich foods And I think so anyone who's listening.

Lyndi:

Liver does contain quite a high amount of iron, which is why we want to be feeding it to kids. I personally do not feed my child or my children liver. It is completely unnecessary. Provider, that you're being mindful of the other sources of iron going into their diet And I think that might be the way to. I think perhaps loosening up on the liver thing When kids are little, i think the advice to feed them liver is because they really don't consume that much And because it's so iron dense, it's an easy way to get it even if they don't eat that much. But as he's getting older and he says he does eat volume, now of course they're going to be meals that he does and meals that he doesn't. I would encourage you to kind of step into a bit more close to that family eating style where it is something like mincemeat stir fry or something where mincemeat is one of those really easy ones You could do with noodles and mincemeat and he'll probably eat a bit and it's very rich in iron And you know two to three times a week that this isn't getting included, and if it's less it's less, and if it's more, one week it's more And that's. He is absolutely going to be getting that requirement with a less intense dose.

Lyndi:

Bone broth, bone broth. There isn't evidence to say that you should be feeding it to kids, that it's the beneficial for them. I know it is a kind of thing. I'm not anti bone broth. I don't think there's anything wrong with it. I just don't think of all the things to be putting your eggs in a basket. I think it's not nearly the one that I think is going to yield you the biggest result. How does it feel the idea of not doing bone broth? Do you feel like you'd be missing out on nutrients that you think you're providing with the bone broth?

Demi:

If you're a nutritionist and you're saying no, Well then I believe you. when it kind of takes the weight off my shoulders.

Lyndi:

I'm glad So people have talked about bone broth that we're boosting immunity. There is no evidence to support that. It does have collagen, which can be good for skin and joint health. Your child's getting enough of that. If he's consuming animal products, you're going to be getting enough of that anyway without having the bone broth. Are there any other claims that you think you'd be?

Demi:

using it for Not really. No, No, I think that what you read about it's so good for their immune system. It's so good for their immune system, for their growing joints and bones and this and that their brain, Oh gosh, heaven forbid we do anything to not help their brain develop.

Lyndi:

There are so many things that we can be doing, i think that the most important thing, what we can do for our kids, is offering them diversity. That means that we're not just going every week this is what I give you and this is what we. I know that's tricky when we have an eating disorder, because this is our safe foods and extending beyond that can be hard, but it reduces that guilt. When you aren't able to give him those foods, it doesn't matter. You're giving him variety and that is actually so much better. When you notice those, that guilt come up, like you did in the example you gave me before about him eating more and people making comments. We're noticing that thought. We're going. No, are we choosing to believe this? You counteract it with a thought. I always give this example You probably heard me talk about it on the podcast this idea that you've got a radio channel.

Lyndi:

You hear the radio channel of the eating disorder voice. Come on, you decide we're not going to listen to that radio channel. You counteract it with something else and you switch the channel. And you keep switching that channel back and back as many times as you need to until you're feeling a little bit more calm. Sometimes you just have to distract yourself because that feeling is not going to go away. Can we talk a bit quickly about in language and how we talk about food around our kids? Do you feel that you're really in your head about things? Should I say that? Do I not say that? Do you? How's that been for you?

Demi:

Up until recently I don't think he really understood what we were saying. Now I know that I say certain things and or I mention a certain food that he likes in his eyes light up. So now I am really conscious about my language, about food and about how we speak about food. I'm so worried about saying the wrong thing accidentally or about calling something bad or good. I'm just really in my head about that because I know language was a huge thing for me growing up. I want to make sure I'm doing the right thing by him and making sure that he's just seeing food as food. It's not good, it's not bad, it's just food. So is it? are you meant to call it sometimes food, or are you meant to just call?

Lyndi:

it food. I think you role model it, i think, rather than us needing to talk about it sometimes or everyday food. I think it's an adult. You can comprehend sometimes everyday food. As a child, you just go, you might have a conversation, as we don't have birthday cake every day because it's not someone's birthday every day And so that's something we just have sometimes. I know it's delicious, and if you have cake in the house and you eat it and it's gone, it's still a sometimes food. I think you absolutely can talk about everyday food.

Lyndi:

I would say, though, given your history, i would err on the side of if you're wondering how do I say this, don't say anything at all. That is the key, because if we're creating an environment where food is just food, it's not occupying much of his brain, and the minute we're kind of coming at him with different words, saying, oh, this is how we do to think about this food and that food and that food it starts to build out this idea that, well, you say food's not really that important, but the more words we give around it, we're making it feel like it is more important than it is. So if I grew up in the world and I did not. I grew up in diet culture, as you know. If I got just food put in front of me and they said, eat until you're hungry, and then I ate until I was hungry and they took the food away, i think it's a much easier way to have trust and be an intuitive eater if you're given that environment. The more we come at our kids, trying to tell them that this is really good for their eyesight and this gives you good energy and this we don't have too often, and blah, blah, blah, i don't think it's necessary. I think we role model it with the environment. If you are ever in doubt, should I make the comments? choose not to make the comments, because it is going to give them more of that neutral environment. We're not going to amp up the idea that food is more important than it needs to be.

Lyndi:

I personally find the very tricky thing is not putting less healthy foods on a pedestal, so like if I'm giving him a chocolate, i'm not like, oh, yummy, it's so great. I find I notice myself doing that, so I've got to try and count even how I say things And I don't get it right. Honestly, i just don't. Sometimes I catch myself, like the other day we were going for a hike and he wouldn't get in the back of the house. I was like have a muesli bar. It's delicious, yay. I was like amping up this muesli bar And afterwards I was like, oh, really didn't need to do that And that is a normal part of parenting.

Lyndi:

It's hard to know where you're eating disorder is and where is normal parenting. I'm telling you that is a normal part of parenting and it is okay to have those moments. I think what's important is that you're reflective and you're going hmm, okay, maybe next time I won't say that or maybe I won't do that And you don't need to beat yourself over it. I think what is more important what probably you grew up and what I grew up with is repeated exposure to this type of language. Where it was. It went on and on and on throughout our childhood and our teens, so that it became ingrained at us, making the odd slip up, especially as they're young. They're not going to really remember it And I think this is the perfect chance for you to be challenging these ideas and trying to give them language out.

Demi:

So if, for instance, as he gets older, he hasn't had chocolate or lollies or cake or anything yet but I know that that will be coming very soon As he gets older and say he wants a chocolate, and he has a chocolate, and then he wants more, or he asked why he can't have more, or he asked why he can't have chocolate every day, what would be the responsible thing to say in that instance?

Lyndi:

It's just not on the menu tonight. No, sorry, there isn't any more. It's just not available right now. We can have more at another point. You don't need to justify it. You don't need to add more sentences to it than that. It's just not available right now And it's not everyone else in the family is eating it and they get a little sliver. So you've got to create the sense of fairness where it's not like everyone's eating chocolate and they don't get the chocolate because that creates that scarcity. But it is just a simple. You know we're actually sharing with everyone, so we have to make sure there's enough cake for everyone to have the chocolate for everyone in the family to share. I'm glad you had your piece and you don't need to kind of justify it any more than that.

Lyndi:

I would encourage you to introduce sugar at some point. I wonder if you feel like it's kind of being put on a pedestal. I know people sometimes do this thing where they don't give their kids sugar until their first birthday. He's 15 months. I don't want it to feel like such a huge reward And I think at the moment probably in your brain it feels like a big deal, and so we don't want it to feel like a big deal to him. So I wonder maybe at some point we could introduce that to him, and what do you think would be a way that you could do it and that would make you feel more comfortable?

Demi:

Well, it's actually my birthday next week, so maybe I could give him some cake. I think that would be a really great way to introduce it first.

Lyndi:

I really like that. Everyone would be eating cake and ideally we're not turning you into a big deal about him having his first sugar. You can internally know, okay, he had his first sugar, it's happened. But no making comments externally. You just you know no photos of the occasion for him unless it's, i mean, he's particularly cute. Take photos of everyone. We're just not going to try and make this into a bigger deal than it is. That was yummy, wasn't it?

Lyndi:

Oh, cake is something fun we get to have on our birthdays, but we don't need to go into it anymore. We don't need to say this is all you have, this is the only piece you're getting. He might go oh, more, more. You go. Oh, we're sharing the cake, it's a birthday cake, everyone's sharing the cake, and give that a go.

Lyndi:

And then, how frequent would you do that? I would say let your social environments dictate how often that is Okay. So my son's now at the point now that he can have an ice block and he could have a few bites, and he forgets to finish the rest of the ice block, because there is no pedestal with sugar and you know, of course each child is unique, but that is how it is for my son And I think as much so you can. Let's say you're out at a picnic And that people are having cupcakes, muffins. That's the time when he eats it, and so maybe that's a bit more of a safer thing where the social environment's informing when he has it. Does it make sense or do I need to be more clear? I'm being a bit wafty.

Demi:

No, that makes perfect sense. For instance, if my husband and I go out for coffee, we could get him a little something at the time. Or if someone comes over with cakes or treats or something he can have a little bit then.

Lyndi:

Exactly. You know you could get him a croissant when you're going out. Or you know, you know, for example, when you go get a baby Chino and they give you a marshmallow and this chocolate on top, yeah, let him have the marshmallow. That's the point. It's one marshmallow. There isn't more marshmallow is not going to get more. In this way, we're normalizing this food and it's no longer becoming this like special food.

Lyndi:

I have an example in my life where every morning I have cappuccino and I have real, then chocolate on top. This is normalizing it for me, it's a daily part of my ritual. Therefore, it's never forbidden. It's never, and I don't lose control around chocolate anymore. I also add a little bit of chocolate to my porridge in the morning. These little acts of normalization mean we don't go crazy around it. So that little bit of marshmallow whenever you get a baby Chino is just his way of knowing. Huh, this isn't forbidden from me, i'm allowed this. It's not like he's going to see, you know the Chino, and then one of his friends is going to get one and he's not. How does that feel to you?

Demi:

I love that. I think that's a great way of looking at it, because I've been holding sugar as this huge thing, with this all or nothing approach of as soon as I give it to him, then he's going to want it every day and then it's going to snowball, whereas you're so right in saying that we just have to let him have it like he normally would in life, because it's going to be around And it's just another food. It shouldn't be a good food or a bad food or a special food. It's just something that he needs to have, because that's what life is.

Lyndi:

I am loving this and I want to finish. We're just talking about this one piece of research that they did. So I assume you've heard of the marshmallow test. Yes, cool, and if anyone listening who doesn't know what the marshmallow test? a researcher is a really famous psychology study. He gave that three year old a marshmallow and he said to them if you wait until the researcher leaves, until they come back, i'll give you another marshmallow, but you can't taste it and you can't touch the marshmallow. And the researcher stepped out the room and they saw which kids were able to delay gratification and wait until the researcher came back. The majority of kids were not able to wait until the researcher came back and they just ate the marshmallow as much as they could.

Lyndi:

Now we always believe that this had something about innate willpower and this idea that kids just are born with this trait of being able to delay gratification.

Lyndi:

But subsequent research that's been happening now is challenging this idea that actually the key to the kids who are able to delay gratification which, by the way, they assumed meant a whole bunch of these kids who delay gratification were far more likely to be successful in life and be healthier in life because they delayed gratification And we wrongly assumed that it was just.

Lyndi:

You were born with it And what we've realized, what the researchers are fighting at now, is that having an environment when you accept that more is available, it's a safe environment, a predictable, reliable environment. Those are the kids who are able to delay gratification because they know there is always more Okay. So knowing that there is a marshmallow that's always allowed, it's always there, means that actually we're improving their ability for delay gratification, and I know that feels counterintuitive, but I want you to keep coming back to this idea that kids who know that they can always have more when they need to have more And they have trust, these are the kids that we want to raise. And by challenging that eating disorder voice, by saying variety is more important than perfect eating, a safe food environment is more important than perfect eating, i think these are really good ways to start to challenge that guilt in your head and reduce the power of those food rules.

Demi:

That's beautiful, i love that I'll be thinking of the marshmallow from here on.

Lyndi:

While he eats his marshmallow. Demi, thank you so much for chatting with me on the podcast today. I'm so grateful.

Demi:

Thanks, Lyndi, thank you.

Recovery From Eating Disorders and Body
Challenging Food Rules and Overcoming Guilt
Trusting Our Bodies, Challenging Food Rules
Feeding Challenges and Nutritional Concerns
Food Choices and Language for Kids
Introducing Sugar and Normalising Food
The Marshmallow Test and Delayed Gratification