To start with I am so happy that Michael loves food. I have watched so many of his friends struggle with eating, allergies and other food issues, that it is great that he can pretty much eat anything he wants to. Unfortunately, due to his Dad and I having been a little too relaxed at birthday parties and other social occasions and focusing more on behavior issues which were the priority (and still are quite important), Michael formed some bad food habits and has put on some excess belly weight. What worries me most is why he is eating. I realize it has become a habit, but I also think it has become his way of dealing with stress and anxiety. He has told me that when he eats he feels better. Don’t we all! The problem is that his food choices are the processed ones versus fresh fruit and vegetables. Even though I make fresh fruit an option and he will when pressed have some, he prefers the granola bars and dried fruit and of course cookies to fresh options. Dad and I are modeling eating good fresh food ourselves, but the habit has been formed so now it will be more difficult to change. But change it we must. His pants don’t fit around the stomach, and though he is not considered obese, he is dangerously veering on that line according to his pediatrician.
We have been talking to him about making healthy food choices and being more active. He is active, but we need to increase the activity now which will be a lot easier than decreasing caloric intake. I am especially worried as we don’t want him facing obesity struggles later in life. But with food he is obsessed, wants more of something, and seems out of control. When we push for control, he becomes even more rigid and now we are dealing with some of those issues. Our next step will be consulting with a professional who deals in nutrition about starting over with good health habits. Michael’s issue and his eating choices have given me much food for thought, no pun intended. If children can draw the emotional reasons behind why they overeat, then adults need to be able to do the same thing. Particularly adult parents of Exceptional Kids who are very controlling and rigid in their behavior due to anxiety and sensory issues. They really need parents who can find a way to demonstrate the balance of healthy eating and exercise versus overindulging. This is not always easy as parents, and I speak for myself and Michael’s Dad, are constantly worrying about our children’s sleep, academic progress, life skills, social skills, that nutrition will get left aside sometimes. In our family now, however, we are making it a priority as it is as important to healthy functioning of our child than anything else.
Exceptional Parents, how is your child’s appetite? Are they little, medium or big eaters? Do they eat a balanced diet? It’s important, as I have learned, to monitor this as well as your Exceptional Child’s other relevant issues so that they can be healthy and grow in mind and spirit. New tools may have to be introduced to help with anxiety, control and other factors, but you know your child best and will be able to find your team. Until next time.
I am a writer and parent coach at “Exceptional Parenting/Exceptional Balance.” I am passionate about empowering parents to trust their own instinct when raising their exceptional children with autism, and remembering that parenthood is as much a journey for us as childhood is for our children. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and GooglePlus. For more information on my parent coaching programs, and to book a FREE 30 Minute Consultation, see my website: http://www.exceptionalparenting.net.
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