My daughter Rebecca, age 12, and I were in the kitchen serving ourselves extra large portions of dessert when we had the following conversation:
Me: I love dessert, especially if it is chocolate!
Rebecca: Me too!
Me: Eating is my hobby!
Rebecca: Eating is my life. I couldn’t live without food. I love to eat.
At that point, there was a pause as I had a flashback to when she was a toddler and eating was the least favorite activity in her life. She hated to eat. She even hated the sight and smell of food. Most of the time, she ate just enough to stay hydrated and barely nourished. She wore out her clothes before she outgrew them. An illness such as a cold was enough to cause a noticeable weight loss and a prolonged disinterest in food. I had to smile when I thought of the contrast from toddler feeding aversion to now.
It did take a long time and a great deal of hard work to get her reflux under control. I will be honest, overcoming poor eating from reflux was very stressful, and I became discouraged at times. It just did not seem possible that she would ever overcome her feeding problems and eat normally. Unfortunately, many toddlers and children with reflux experience picky eating and feeding issues at some point. When I talk to parents who are in the midst of toddler feeding issues from reflux, I try to convey a sense of hope. If Rebecca could declare eating as a hobby at age 12, then certainly their little refluxer can learn to eat, too.
We still have reflux issues, but the discomfort is minor, and reflux no longer controls our lives. Nor has reflux had a lasting effect on Rebecca’s growth and well being. On occasion, Rebecca will tell me she ate too much “rich food.” This is her way of saying she had over-indulged and her reflux was acting up. Gone are the days of extreme picky eating and barely staying on the growth chart. But, on occasion, we are both reminded that at age 12, she still has reflux and needs to watch what she eats, especially the high-calorie and high-fat foods. It always tastes good on the way down, but it often comes up a few hours later.
Published On: June 13, 2007