Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Eating Habits, or Hobbits Eating

I have noticed lately that my husband and I clash a bit over eating habits. We've always been different, but until recently it hasn't been a big deal. Now we're trying to establish guidelines and house rules for Charlotte, and it's becoming more apparent how different we can be.

My husband likes meat. And he can eat a rather large meal at one sitting. That meal rarely includes broccoli. In fact, I think he prefers to get most of his calories at 2-3 meals a day with little or no snacks in-between (we won't count liquid snacks for the moment, though sodas and Starbucks probably should count). He has basically no sweet tooth (except for the aforementioned sugary drinks), so he rarely eats dessert. He is truly one of those people who can be satisfied with a *bite* of a dessert. He also somewhat frequently skips meals. He has gotten much better over the last year or so about eating breakfast every day, and eats a rather healthy one (lately, granola cereal with milk and orange juice), but is known to forgo lunch (or wait until 3pm to get around to eating it). He claims that he gets too busy to have time to eat.

I on the other hand am much more of a carb lover. I love my steak and veggies, and dairy products. I have a major sweet tooth (especially when it involves chocolate). Basically, I like all kinds of food. I eat breakfast every day, no exceptions. I don't skip meals. If my husband skips lunch, he is rather grumpy by dinner time--if I were to skip lunch, I'd be that grumpy by, say, 12:30. I cannot eat 2 or 3 large meals in a day with no snacks. If I eat the 2 or 3 large meals, I will still need a snack 2 hours later. After about 10-15 pounds that I put on when we first started living together, I realized that I need to eat a lot less than my husband does at any one sitting, and plan for the snack later. Otherwise, I just pack on the pounds. If I eat until I'm stuffed and can't eat for 4-6 hours, then I'm quite miserable (between an overly full tummy and low blood sugar, it's just not pleasant going). For me, there is no such thing as being too busy to eat. If folks at work were demanding my time and I was hungry, I would either excuse myself or eat in front of them (sometimes, you just can't get through to people otherwise). Pregnancy makes all of these things a bit worse. Actually, when I was preganant with Charlotte, I ate much more like my husband (didn't want chocolate, downing 12 oz of meat every night for dinner, couldn't touch a veggie, etc)--and I gained nearly 60 pounds for my trouble. This baby seems to be content with a more normal diet for me, and I'm on track for closer to a 35 pound weight gain.

When we were a family of two adults, we merely accepted each other's eating habits and took care of ourselves the way we need to. But now, we have a toddler. A very hungry toddler, who seems to combine both of our eating habits. When I was pregnant with her, I joked that I was having a hobbit--one who ate first and second breakfasts, lunch, noonsies, afternoon tea, dinner, supper, etc. Well, she still does that. And she can still pack away the meat (the kid eats 2 hotdogs in a sitting, or 4-5 oz of steak, and I've seen her down 5 sausage links as part of her second breakfast of the day).

As much as I want to help her develop healthy eating habits that don't involve as much of my sweets and chocolate cravings, I tend to feed her when she says she's hungry. My husband tries to force her to wait for official meals, and tries to discourage her from wanting a snack in-between (even when she ate her meal).

Last night, for example, she ate the bbq pork from her plate, some of her bread (all of the butter...another trait she inherited from me...), and most of her milk. I think the only thing she didn't eat much of was her corn (which is kind of unusual for her). An hour later at a friend's house, she was asking for a snack, and my husband tried to tell her that she should have eaten more at dinner. By bedtime (fully 2-2.5 hours after dinner), she was still insisting that she was hungry, so I got her a bowl of Cheerios and milk (which she devoured). I am trying to respect my husband's desires not to let her snack so much that she doesn't eat proper meals, and not to feed her sugary treats for every snack. But at the same time, I have a feeling that our little hobbit has a metabolism like mine, that requires smaller meals more often. I don't want to force her into feeling like she has to clean her plate full of too-large portions and then sneak snacks later, which could lead to her gaining too much weight later on (ask me how I know). I wish sometimes that there were a single answer or formula that we could use, something that doesn't make us defensive of our own eating habits.

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