Am I responsible for her Eating Disorder

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Parents play a powerful role in children’s eating behavior, providing both genes and environment for children. For example, they influence children’s developing preferences and eating behaviors by making some foods available rather than others, and by acting as models of eating behavior. As a parent, you play an important role in shaping your children’s eating habits. You have a big influence over the family environment where meals take place and the types of foods your children eat. Positive experiences about food early on may help your children develop healthy eating habits later in life.

 

Dear Readers,

 

Please find below a very heartfelt account of a struggle with current crisis and eating disorder by one of our readers. Please read this with open mind. Our aim of this post is to create the awareness of parental influence on children’s eating habits  . Like Mother, Like Child: The Influences of Maternal Attitudes and Behaviours on our children  is something we need to take into account and also parental influence on children’s eating habits. As a parent, you play an important role in shaping your children’s eating habits. You have a big influence over the family environment where meals take place and the types of foods your children eat. Positive experiences about food early on may help your children develop healthy eating habits later in life. We hope you’ll find the post below useful. Thank you for this great piece and thank you F-Ahmed for editing.

 

 

Am I responsible for her Eating Disorder

 

 

A quick wedding getaway the city where no one sleeps; the city of lights and insomnia – Karachi. I booked a flight for my family of four as my soul sister promised me it will be a time of memories, fun and glamour.

A vacation was much needed for us all as we went through hell in the previous six months. My daughter displayed early signs of having an eating disorder and deep down, I knew why she was becoming this way. She was constantly looking at herself in mirror and felt that she was not pretty at all.

 

Talks of Coronavirus were increasing but we regarded it as something distant and confined to certain countries – how wrong was I?

 

The challenge began immediately after booking our tickets. Things were changing but I stayed optimistic. It’s only for 14 days, I thought to myself, we will be back in no-time.

I brushed my anxiety aside and ensured I was stocked up on vitamins, granola bars, kale cakes, spirinula and wheatgrass powder.

 

As soon as we arrived in Karachi, things began to change as we were busy and my daughter was somehow lost in the background.

One thing which really disturbed me was that my daughter was always watching me – especially when I was eating. She would often point out: ‘mum you didn’t have your breakfast or your lunch and now you’re having salad for dinner’. Her watchfulness drove me crazy.  I worked in industry where looks really mattered. I was often reviewing one product after the other and was often away on PR trips. Additionally, I was also always doing a type of cleanse. I always thought of myself as cautious and health conscious.

One day, I received a phone call from school informing me that my daughter fainted in her PE class. I went to school and they told me that they fear she was showing early signs of having an eating disorder. That moment I felt as though the earth was pulled from under my feet. It left me cold, stone cold.

That evening, I cried and I am not one to shed tears. My husband blamed me and my “weird eating habits.” We went for therapy and the school started to monitor her closely. I always presented a picture of a protective and considerate mother and never once acknowledged my weird eating regime or, at times, no eating regime.

I never disclosed my brief stint with a  therapist over my low weight before my marriage.

I never acknowledged that how I was always using a monitoring scale.

I kept hidden that every month I went on any type cleanse, one after the other.

I was grateful when in our joint session, my daughter never once brought up my eating regime, though she did mention how I sometimes skipped meals and I laughed nervously telling the therapist that my priority was my children. I usually ate before I woke them up. I was convincing myself more then than anyone else. I remember feeling nervous that day and was asked to fill in a food diary.

Our therapist and dietitian wanted us to start eating our meals together so she gave us a meal plan to follow as a family. We both started to gain weight and I could see that she was getting her color back and was back to her chatter box self. This torture continued for six straight months and then we were kind of released, you could say, and now we were travelling to Pakistan on a holiday. It will be good for all of us.

 

Before our trip, I did go on a detox and numerous other diets. When we arrived in Pakistan, I was super relaxed. I had manage to shed those extra kilos. I ensured it was hard and away from my daughter’s eagle eyes.

 

During the first week, we were so busy that she disappeared in the background. I breathed a sigh of relief and then came the dreaded news of lockdown. Everything happened so suddenly that we were all left shocked and startled. We had our approved return tickets confirmed but with each passing day, we lost hope on returning. Flights were being cancelled globally and the borders were getting sealed. Pakistan announced a lockdown. We were ready to take any alternative route and the next two weeks were spent in lockdown and on the phone trying to sort something out. I wanted to get back at any cost. The worst was that were stranded in my husband’s home town away from the main city. We had gone on Am I responsible for her Eating Disorder

A quick Wedding getaway to Karachi- city of lights and insomnia. No one ever sleeps in Karachi. A family wedding with full dash of glamour and unlimited fun, this was promised to me by my soul sister, my dearest friend. I booked a flight for all four of us. We were all due a vacation away from here. What a perfect ideal vacation, I thought to myself. We went through hell in the last six months. Last six months were tough for me. My daughter displayed early signs of having an eating disorder and deep down I knew why she was becoming this way, always looking at herself in mirror and feeling that she was not pretty at all.

 

We had heard of Coronavirus but regarded it as something very far from us and confined to certain countries, how wrong was I?

 

The challenge started as soon as we booked our tickets. Things were changing, but I tried to stay optimistic. It’s only for 14 days, I thought to myself. We’ll be back in no-time. The aniexty was there, but I brushed it aisde. I stocked up on vitamins, granola bars, kale cakes, spirinula and wheatgrass powder.

 

As soon as we arrived in Karachi- things started to change, we were busy and my daughter was somehow lost in the background.

One thing which often really disturbed me that my daughter was always watching me, especially when I was eating. She would often tell me, ‘mum you didn’t have your breakfast and your lunch and now you’re having salad for dinner’. Her watchfulness always drove me crazy.  I worked in industry where looks really mattered. I was often reviewing one product after the other and was often away on PR trips. I was also always you could stay on one cleanse or the other.

I’m just cautious and very healthy, I often told myself. And then one day I had a phone call from school, she fainted in her PE class. I went to school and they told me that they fear she was showing early signs of having and eating disorder. That day, I felt earth was pulled from under my feet.

It left me cold, stone cold. That evening, I cried and I never cry. My husband blamed me and my weird eating habits. We went for therapy and the school started to monitor her closely. I always presented a picture of a protective and considerate mother. I never once acknowledged my weird eating regime or at times no eating regime. I never disclosed my brief stint with a  therapist over my low weight before my marriage. I never acknowledged that how I was always monitoring scale and every month I went on one cleanse after the other. And I was grateful when in our joint session, my daughter never once brought up my eating regime. She did mention how I sometimes skipped meals and I laughed nervously telling the therapist that my priority was children and I usually ate before I woke them up. That day, I felt so nervous, she asked me to fill in a food diary.

Our therapist and dietitian wanted us to have our meals together and she gave us a meal plan to follow as a family. We both started to gain weight and I could see that she was getting her color back and she was back to her chatter box self. This torture continued for six straight months and then we were kind of released, you could say and now we were travelling to Pakistan on a holiday. It will be good for all of us.

 

Before our trip, I did go on a detox and numerous other diets. When we arrived in Pakistan, I was super relaxed. I had manage to shed those extra kilos. It was hard and away from my daughter’s eagle eyes.

 

During the first week, we were so busy that she disappeared in the background. I breathed a sigh of relief and then came the news of lockdown. Everything happened so suddenly that we were all left shocked and startled. Maybe in next few days things will approve. We have our return ticket, it’s confirmed and with each passing day , things got worst. Now countries across the world were cancelling the flights, the borders were getting sealed.

 

And then Pakistan announced a lockdown. We were ready to take an alternative route through Emirates and then to United States. This sudden change of events left all of us very shocked and the next two weeks were spent in lockdown and on phone trying to sort something out.

The impact it had on my family, I have no idea. I wanted to get back at any cost. The worst was that were stranded in my husband’s hometown which was away from the main city. We had gone on a one day trip to see my father-in-law and with the announcement of lock down, we were now stranded in Northern Pakistan.

My anger was at its peak and I wasn’t willing to compromise on anything. I think fate had another plan. My daughter fell down the stairs, another fainting episode and this time it came with the cost of a broken ankle, a hair line fracture and to top it off she was not eating. These are not the times to visit hospitals. The chances of exiting Pakistan or even Abbotabad became slimmer. We were fortunate that my father-in-law had good contacts so we were receiving a good treatment.

I am trying my best now to accept the situation and do what is good for all of us. My husband and son are happy and have adjusted to their new quarantined lifestyle. My father-in-law is happy to have all of us by his side. Despite the pain, my daughter is doing okay. We all make sure she eats and I eat with her. We had a zoom session with the therapist and she was greatly concerned about the weight loss. I tried to brush it aside but deep down, I know why there is a significant loss of weight and what happened to my missing cleansing pills. I am guilty of many things. All those inconsiderate diet talks in front of her, all the time discussing no-carb meals in front of her and always passing judgement on others and their weight. I don’t do this intentionally. I always wanted to be a mother and having a mini me was always a dream of mine. I am blessed with two children and now my only fear is, what if she develops an eating disorder? She’s okay right now and her therapist is happy with the progress we are making. My fear is so great that for the first time in eight years, I’m eating chappati and rice. When it comes to food, there’s a choice here and my stress levels are so high that I often forget to pay attention to what we are really eating.

From this quarantine, I have come to know and acknowledge that my eating habits are not right. I see how low my daughter’s self-confidence is. I observe how my son is detached from all of us. I notice how the distance between me and my husband is so great.

The lock down has been extended and we do not know how long we are here for, but nevertheless, this is a time for me to make some changes.

I will allow my children to play freely and happily on the rooftop.

I will let my children embrace the love of their grandfather.

I will let my children learn about a new culture, new traditions and foods.

I pray my daughter stays this way – her love for eating her paratha (fried chappati) in the morning with honey and sometimes sunny side eggs, her enjoyment in eating fresh mangoes, her devouring shaami kebabs with lentil and naan. I loved seeing her eat without any guilt. She hasn’t mentioned calories once neither has she refused a meal – maybe this is because we now eat together. Often we eat from one plate, sometimes I eat more and sometimes she does and this how the balance should be.

Please take notice of your surroundings and perhapos this is the time to review ourselves and attempt to make things right. Ramadan is around the corner and this will be the first Ramadan that we will be observing in Pakistan. I want to make a conscious effort not to use this month for my personal gains but instead use it to simply change my bad habits.

I’m lucky that she’s at that special age where we can really influence her. And with no outer influences here, I see that she’s gaining her confidence. This lockdown has pushed me to be fully aware of my family’s situation and make changes. I no longer want to sugar coat any issues. I am grateful that we are currently safe and that God has allowed us to spend valuable time with each other.

Praying for the safety of everyone.

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About Author

Islam and Eating Disorders founded in 2012 – run by Maha Khan, the blog creates awareness of Eating Disorders in the Muslim world, offers information and support for sufferers and their loved ones.

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