Friday, December 4, 2015
Twinkle, Obesity and Fat Shaming
But my word, can she pack away the food. It's a standing joke that when I go to pick her up from nursery and they tell me what she's done that day, it's just a long list of everything that she's eaten. At home, she's obsessed by mealtimes, constantly asking if it's dinner time, or wondering when I'm making dinner. If someone mentions food or if she sees any food she immediately proclaims, "I'm hungry!" There's never any food left on her plate at the end of a meal.
I have heard enough parents worrying over their child's picky eating habits to know that many would consider me lucky to have a child that is so easy to feed. But it's not that simple.
Twinkle can't leave food. She just can't leave it. If she can see food, she has to have it. She has no sense of what her body is saying to her about hungry/not hungry, full/not full. If food is served buffet style, she will load her plate with as much as she can physically carry, and then work her way through it as though slogging through a marathon. Leftovers in the bin are fair game.
On the occasions when she has been sick, it has been immediately evident that she barely chews her food at all. She just inhales it.
After six months of rigid routine and predictability around the provision of meals, and the reassurances, and the availability of snacks, and the special plates and cups, she has finally begun to utter the words, "I've had enough." But it's a chimera of progress. The moment I approach her to remove the unemptied plate, she repents. "No, I want it!" Her brain is wired for food survival, never sure when, or if, the next meal is coming. "Eat up now!" it whispers to her. "You might go hungry later."
I wonder whether one day all of this will catch up with Twinkle, and she will join the statistics of the obesity crisis we hear so much about. And if that happens, will someone, Katie Hopkins style, one day call her lazy? Or stupid? Or say "How could you let yourself get like this?" Or hand her a cruel, cowardly 'fat-shaming' card while she's minding her own business on the bus?