Updated: Aug 9, 2022
How having fun can have nothing to do with food!
My son had his very first sleepover this weekend. His friend came to our house in the afternoon and spent the night. It was actually a really great time and the boys had a blast. They stayed up until 11pm jumping on the bed and playing cannonball onto a nugget couch we made into a bed (PS nugget couches make great beds and/or cannonball landing pads for sleepovers.)
Anyway, the next morning after waking up at 6:30, we went to soccer. The coach noticed my son was dragging so she came over to offer some encouragement. He said he was tired from his sleepover…. Guess what her first question was?
“Sleepover? That’s exciting, did you get to eat lots of candy???”
I was like, "what?" He was even confused looking at her.
He looked at her like, that’s a weird question (or maybe he was thinking, "what the heck, I was supposed to get candy at this sleepover.”)
It’s so interesting how our brains connect certain activities to food. Like connecting sleepovers to junk food. This soccer coach obviously connected the two things together. I know when I was growing up, the things I looked forward to the most about sleepovers were staying up late, having fun with my friends, and yes, eating pizza and junk food.
Make no mistake. My kid definitely has a desire for sweets, he has a normally functioning human brain. Like this weekend when it was brutally hot, he thought it would be a great idea to make “fish biscuits'' like they have in Octonauts… aka chocolate chip cookies in the shape of fish. I applauded his creativity. If you are friends with me on FB you’ve seen him eat cotton candy at a baseball game. He has a desire for sweets for sure.
However, when it came to the sleepover, the ¼ of a chocolate chip cookie was not the best part in his brain. I re-phrased the question for the coach and asked him “What was your favorite part of the sleepover,” and he responded “Staying up at night, playing cannonball, and having fun with my friend.”
I love that in his brain, the most important part of that experience had nothing to do with food.
As a parent, I am working hard at connecting with my kid and having fun with him in a way that doesn’t involve food, making sure he relates fun and connection with others to something other than food.
Think about how many times you might have connected certain activities to food…
“This sleepover will be fun, I get to eat junk food”
“This birthday party will be fun, I get to eat a cupcake”
“The baseball game will be fun, I get to eat cotton candy”
Sure they sound fun, and seem fun in the moment because you get the dopamine hit for sure… but what was really fun about those experiences?
Playing cannonball at 11pm when you are four years old.
Running through a giant giraffe sprinkler with your classmates.
Bringing your dog to the baseball game and being seen on the puppy cam.
As part of my coaching program, I want you to challenge yourself to have fun, connect with your friends, family, and children, in a way that has nothing to do with food… it’s arguably harder, requires more work, more brain power, more effort, but when I think of those moments where I really connect with my kid, food has nothing to do with it.
Coming soon on the blog, why do we so easily default to food as a source of fun, pleasure, and connection?
I think it’s because for so many of us, food was one of the only sources of connection we had with our loved ones, it was one of the only ways they knew how to show love, it was one of the only ways they knew to give us temporary pleasure, it was an easy way to provide a moment of joy and connection, and it was one of the only ways we felt love from the people who were close to us. I think for a lot of families, this was modeled to our parents, it was modeled to them and therefore modeled to us, in a totally well-meaning and loving way.
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