I believe that our bad relationship with food is taught to us as children. We are taught to deal with our emotions by eating. Food is offered instead of comfort. When bad feelings happen, food fills the gaps.
How often do you see a parent putting a pacifier in her child’s mouth when he cries? This is so normal that we don’t even think about it. The child has legitimate need that needs to be addressed, and instead of getting help for his problem, something is put in his mouth.
Every time he is hungry, or tired, or wet, or sad, or upset, or too cold or too hot – something is put in his mouth. After months of this, he learns that this is how you deal with problems. Something isn’t right? Put something in your mouth.
This child will internalize this. He’ll either learn to eat or smoke or drink whenever he feels any twinge or any anxiety. When things aren’t going right, don’t find the reason for the problem. Self soothe by putting something in your mouth.
This is so simple that it is overlooked. This is so obvious that nobody sees it.
We need to stop using a pacifier and actually pacify children who are upset. We need to find out what the problem is and address it. They can’t fix their own problems. They can’t change anything about their environment. They let parents know that something is wrong by crying. Crying is natural. Crying keeps them alive. Ignoring it is neglect.
Say they have had enough food, and their diaper has just been changed, and they are still crying. They might just need love. They certainly don’t need a piece of plastic shoved in their mouths.
We have to think about the deeper lessons we are teaching children, those lessons we don’t even realize we are teaching them.