It was one year ago today that I stood behind the counter, smiling as my husband snapped this photo. You may not be able to tell, but I was shaking inside. I had been solely nursing Lydia until this very moment; she was 6 months and 1 day old, and it was time to introduce her to cereal. How could something so normal be so terrifying? I remember shaking as I pulled the seal off the top of the Gerber container. I kept asking myself, “What is wrong with you? You can feed your child cereal. Remember, Amy, Lydia does not carry the food issues that you do.” You see, I had been dieting since I was 12 years old, and my greatest fear is imposing my distorted way of thinking onto my child.
From the moment that I found out I was pregnant, I began praying for my baby. I began asking God not to let her struggle with food issues, body image issues, food addiction, eating disorders, or live in a constant dieting mindset as she matures. My greatest desire is that she will live free from food’s control. So, how do I navigate feeding my child when I still had a difficult time feeding myself? It is pretty simple: one meal at a time.
As believing Christians, something powerful happens when we release our fears to God. The things that scare us the most are suddenly less scary! Isaiah 41:10 says, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Whenever I told God my fear of feeding Lydia, I was no longer worried about feeding her. God was upholding me as I went to work, figuring out her nutritional needs.
STEP ONE | It’s important not to feel embarrassed or ashamed when you have food issues. Know that you are not the only women in the world who struggles with these things.
STEP TWO | Figure out your child’s nutritional needs. There are many resources online and hundreds of books available on the subject. Just be certain that you find a reputable resource. If you are really struggling, like I was, ask your child’s pediatrician for resources. They will be happy to help you.
STEP THREE | Get a notebook or note card and write down the total daily need. For example, grains (3 oz), vegetables (1 cup), fruits (1 cup), dairy (2 cups), meats (2 oz), etc. This will help you see the big picture!
STEP FOUR | After you see the big picture, you can now begin breaking these daily requirements into meals and snacks. Next, write down each meal and snack with the required food for each meal. An example would be breakfast (1/4 cup fruit + 1 oz grain). Remember, these are just guidelines. Your child is NOT on a diet; this is just a starting point for knowing what to serve. Many children will eat a heavy meal and be disinterested in eating their next meal. Don’t force your child to eat everything you have prepared, and don’t be scared if they want more. Their bodies will let them know what they need.
I hope this information has been encouraging to anyone struggling with food issues. Remember that God will guide you as you rely upon Him. Also, don’t underestimate the power of prayer. God will equip you when you ask for help. He will make things clear that were once overwhelming. It is hard to believe, but one year later, I no longer fear feeding her. I have more confidence, the more meals I have prepared for her. There has been nothing more eye-opening to my own food needs than learning about Lydia Beth’s. I am finding greater freedom and joy with each meal that I prepare for my family.