Tuesday 25 February 2014

Food (not so) Glorious Food

A month or so after Missy came to us, her food anxiety reared its head.  Portion sizes, other people eating when she's not, obsession with sweet things and when her next meal is have all caused massive anxieties over the last year.  Generally her anxieties have lessened quite considerably which is great but the relationship between her and food is never going to be an easy one.

At a Christmas party with other adopted children, all the kids were served a plate full of party food that the parents had brought and had been shared equally among the children.  Of 20 or so children, 17 ate (apparently) happily, stopped when they were full, were more interested in the games but three, including Missy, stayed at the table until every single crumb had disappeared off their plates.  And then she had jelly and ice cream. And then she won a sweet in Pass the Parcel - as every other child had eaten theirs, I didn't feel it was fair to say no on this occasion.  

Throughout the day Missy will ask about the timing of the next meal or snack.  If we are going somewhere, she will want to know if we will be eating there.  She needs to know exactly what is going in her sandwich bag each day and watches over me whilst I prepare - I used to usher her out the kitchen but soon realised that this was something she needed to do.

We and the SWs can't be sure exactly where her food issues come from.  Unlike some children who go into care, she wasn't consistently deprived of food although we do know suspect that there were times when she went without or was fed at inappopriate times.  She tells me she was fed a lot of sweet stuff and we know that at contact her birth mother would bring a lot of sweet things and Missy would down the lot, probably to please BM.  So it's not the deprivation food that I think is ultimately Missy's issue and thus it was interesting to read this article this week about food issues.

I think Missy's associates food with love.  Being fed equals being loved.  She looks at food as comforter, a friend, an emotional link with her carer. There's also the link with shame.  I get it - I've put on a stone over the last 18 months through 'comfort eating'. Then I'll feel bad about my weight ..... and so eat more because I feel bad.  It's a circle that I can, if I put my mind to it, get out of.  But Missy can't do this, she needs our help to help her work through the deep rooted negative feelings she holds within.

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