Attachment Parenting: Feeding With Love and Respect

I am so glad to be back in the area to take advantage of all the wonderful support groups the Phoenix area has to offer.  Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the Attachment Parenting International meeting in Chandler.  The topic was “Feeding with Love and Respect”, based on that principle of attachment parenting.

Here are some of the ideas presented by Amanda, the API leader:

  • Feeding is about more than giving them food – it is an exchange of love between parent and child when you consider the time it takes to prepare and serve
  • Breastfeeding is the method that promotes the most bonding: closeness in proximity, it provides warm nourishment on cue, meets baby’s needs while meeting mom’s needs
  • Bottle-feeding can be AP, too: Keep your baby close, feed in your lap, make eye-contact: preserve what you can from the breastfeeding experience even when breastfeeding isn’t an option
  • As your child grows, there is definitely a decision to be made about making food at home versus purchasing processed food in the stores.

She made an interesting point that I had not thought about:  when we start solids, we literally start moving our child away from us.  Up to this point, all their food has come from mother and/or in proximity to a care giver.  Once they start being fed solids, children are usually set in a chair away from us.  It is not unusual for children to crave closeness and want to eat in your lap, which is exactly what Otter wants to do more often than not, especially when we are eating out.

Now I get it – she is in a strange place around people she knows are not in our family, eating a meal.  Mealtimes for her are usually at home, around our table, with people we know – no wonder a restaurant makes her want to be close to mama!! I will totally embrace her instead of hesitating to give her my lap space when we are supposed to be “eating out”.  It is totally appropriate for her to find comfort in my lap, because that has been and still is her “safe space”. She knows she is loved and safe when she is in my embrace.

Amanda also talked about weaning…she did say that AP teaches to offer breastmilk first (up to a year-old), and then to offer solid food.  There may come a point when baby totally bypasses you and goes straight to the table.  That is okay, too; it is honoring the child who does not want breastmilk at that instant.

We also had the pleasure of hearing Blue Russ share her perspective on food with the group.  Here are some interesting statistics she shared:
90% of the food in grocery stores is processed
If you think about it, we are advertised to almost every waking moment by billboard signs, computer banner ads, television ads and the radio.

She encouraged us to let go of any guilt that we have associated with our food choices, and instead, look at the choices we are making and accepting them as the choices that work for us in this time and space.  She reminded us that our children learn about food from us – they taste the flavors delivered in our breastmilk, they watch the choices we make, they learn our rhythm of life.  If we want them to learn healthy habits, then we have to live the habits we want them to learn.  Among them, to let go of any shame, guilt, blame and stress that we feel about food.

We have all been there – we are in a rush, we need to go, and we make the choice to go through the drive-through instead of feeding the food we “should” be eating.  One mama had a great perspective to share: she tried to remember it was more important to feed herself than go hungry, and that the opportunity to make a better choice existed in the future.

Blue invited us to look at the connections between our lifestyle, stressors, and our choices.  Could we see any correlations?  If we wanted to make changes, she encouraged us to look again at this day – just today.  What was one thing we could do, what decision would we make, to support the choices for a healthier lifestyle?

Here are some of the time-saving ideas shared in the group to help us eat well when we all feel the crunch of time:

  • Wash, dry and cut a bulk quantity of greens and/or other vegetables.  Then freeze them in meal size portions so that all you have to do is cook them when you are ready to eat them.  The question came up about freezing greens – yes you can! (think frozen spinach, or see top image)
  • Prepare a large quantity of main dish meals that can be augmented with sides for dinner.  Eat your portion one night, and freeze the rest in dinner size portions for later.
  • Make a stock soup in large quantities – use broth for enriching rice or pasta.  Puree veggies for a veggie soup, serve meat with meals, reserve some broth to re-heat for a quick “to-go” meal that you can drink.
  • Check out THIS link for more info on salad-in-a-jar and The Fresh 20; both time-savers.  The salads make for fresh, healthy convenience food, and The Fresh 20 is a planning/prep guideline that calls for one shopping/prep day and easy dinners on meal nights.
  • Prepare a week’s worth of food, and cut-up and label snack foods for fresh noshing.  Amanda makes a pasta salad that can be eaten cold for her anyone in her family to eat anytime, while staying out of her labeled items to be used later in the week for meals.

We also talked a little about how we prepare food.  One mama does Reiki over it before preparing/eating.  I shared that I say a prayer for God to bless our minds, our bodies and our souls with the food he has provided for us before I make a meal (especially when the meal is a gift to another recipient).  Basically, the idea was to prepare food with intention, because that is also part of feeding with love and respect…pouring our love into every action, including meal preparation, that will directly or indirectly be affecting our children.

In the Mexican tradition, we have a saying that if we are angry when we are preparing a meal, our food will be spicier.  Do you have any traditional beliefs about food in your family?  How about time-saving tips?  Any thoughts to share on the topic?