My Sister-in-Law sent us the article "the Junk Food Gene" from the March 2009 issue of Good Housekeeping.
In response to a woman's worry about her eight-year-old daughter's obsession with chocolate, a doctor responds:
"'On your way home, stop at the store and buy enough chocolate to fill an entire kitchen cabinet. In your kitchen, designate one cabinet The Chocolate Cabinet and fill it to overflowing with the chocolate you bought. Now tell your daughter that this is hers and hers alone. Tell her that she can eat as much of it as she wants and that you will fill it back up when the cabinet gets even a tiny bit empty. Do not criticize her. Do not watch her with hawk eyes. And make sure that cabinet is brimming with chocolate. Wait three weeks, and then let me know what happens.'"
Fast forward three weeks.
"'When I first told Gracie about the new plan, she didn't believe me. She waited until I left the kitchen, and then she plowed through the contents of her cabinet before I could change my mind. I filled up that cabinet four times that first week (with gritted teeth, I admit). But when Gracie realized I was not going to criticize her and that I was absolutely serious about letting her have as much as she wanted, she ate less and less. By the second week, I only had to buy a little chocolate, and by the third week, none at all. She is more relaxed around food. She is losing weight. I am a chocolate-cabinet convert!'"
The author replies:
It's not about the food. Although the chocolate-cabinet idea was radical, I was almost positive that what Gracie wanted wasn't candy. She wanted her mother's (positive) attention. She wanted her mother to trust her. But mostly, she wanted to believe in and trust herself, and the only way she could do that was first learning those skills from her mother. The drama around food and weight gain was the language that Gracie was using to communicate with her mother. The real issue is never about food.
And here's more:
Mothers from around the world ask her: "How do I best love my child when it comes to food? What will help her the most?"
And she responds: "'Attend to your own relationship with food first.'"
"And ask yourself this question: If you could fill a cabinet with anything--food, attention, time--what would it be? Chances are, it won't be chocolate. Commit to being lavish with yourself with what you really need. As you do that, you will become a living example of self-care and trust and love. You will be who you want your children to become. Believe me, they'll notice.'"