Sunday, June 5, 2011

Big Mom, Big Kid Response

I have written before about the way people think of and treat heavier folks who ride in motorized carts at the grocery store, and how wrong their assumptions can be. I have shared my response to my innocent preschooler's question about her classmate: "Why is Max so fat?" And I have repeatedly discussed how important I think compassion is towards others. Yet it is on my mind frequently, because weight loss and obesity has been such a huge part of my focus for so long now, and I often ponder the way people, and myself, think and feel about the obese... and their children.

I asked Friday, and you answered. I know we have a sort of 'closed group' here responding, and honestly I think we get both more compassion (because we have been there) and more judgement (because we have been there), or in other words, maybe our feelings are more extreme than the general population who has never been fat. I have been appalled at the way the general public treats morbidly obese people... assuming laziness and gluttony and all manner of negative things about *all* very large people. But I think the general public also has a much stronger response to the sight of a morbidly obese adult with a similarly obese child. "They should not let them get that way." "That is child abuse!" We saw it in the comments here on my blog, too. And those are honest opinions and feelings, with, in some cases, perhaps some validity. But I personally believe that in the majority of cases, it is not child abuse. There is something deeper going on that we can't even begin to guess about.

To me, it is kind of like many of us who gained a lot of weight. It sort of creeps up on you. I gained 80 pounds in less than a year, and people wondered how on earth I could "let myself" get like that. Well honestly I didn't notice until I was pretty far gone. I knew I was gaining weight but it seemed like I exploded overnight, really. And you know how your kids grow and change and since you see them every day, you don't really "see" it? I am sure most parents do love and want the best for their children.

This question was prompted by two experiences in the past week.

1) I was sitting in my car in a parking lot, turned to look out my window, and saw a very large woman who I might guess to be 350+ pounds walking with a girl about 10 years old who looked very much like her, in every way, including her body type. The child was very obese.

Of course, at this point, there are those who are enraged that I noticed the body size of these two strangers. "It's not your business!" Well, you're right. That's why I didn't stare, or get out of my car and try to talk to them about weight loss. I don't know them, I don't know if that mother has already lost 100 pounds or if she has no idea what to eat to get healthy or if she is perfectly happy as she is. Not my business. Correct. But I will never pretend to be blind. I see. I don't understand people who say they "don't notice" a person's weight or the color of their skin or their disability. When I see a person, my EYES cannot NOT see that they are black, white, short, fat, bald, male, female, young old, missing a leg, whatever. Seeing is NOT judging. It is observation. It is a function of our eyeballs.

Sitting and assuming and dwelling on what we see *is* a choice, and I don't think *thinking* about what we see is wrong. I have long ago stopped making judgements about random people on the street. I saw those people and I thought about how hard it is to be that obese, to find clothes that fit, to go to middle school and be teased. But the biggest thought I had was sorrow at how this pair of people are probably treated when they go out and about. Not everyone has a filter. I am sure people make comments about their weight and the mother's parenting in their hearing and directly to them. And that makes me sad.

2) My daughter has a friend she met in a class she was in. Her friend, Caylee, is five years old and very obese. She is not just large, but is a weight that might be medically concerning to me if I were her mother. The rest of her family is stick thin. One day, my daughter and I went at a little restaurant. My daughter is on the underweight side for medical reasons, so we try to maximize her calories without including sugary treats. At the buffet, she chose a slice of pizza, some macaroni and cheese, a little fettuccine, and fried chicken. Everyone smiled as they walked past our table at my little girl so excited to have foods she doesn't usually get at home, savoring the fried food and grinning. (Yes I have also had people... not in person, but on this blog... attack my food choices for my daughter without knowing or seeing her, so I get how that feels). Well, just across the room I noticed Caylee was there as well with her family. And on her plate were the same foods my little girl had chosen. But several people walked by slowly and stared and even paused with a scowl. I saw someone shake their head after they passed her table. I could not believe anyone would act that way to a child, but I guess people make assumptions when they see a child so heavy with "unhealthy" things on her plate. But you know what really got me? That these same people smiled and approved and thought it was okay when these same "unhealthy" foods were on the plate of my very thin child!

I waved at the mother, we walked past and my girl said "hey that is the same thing I had to eat!" and the mother, sadly apologetic, looked at me and said, "Yeah, that's what she likes, I can't change it." I can only imagine that she felt the need to say that because in the past, people have attacked her because of her child's food choices.

Well, maybe it's true that parents with obese kids *should* control what they eat. Heck, shouldn't *all* parents? Is it fair to get on Caylee's mom for letting her have M&M's at Halloween but not get on me for the same? I dunno, it's hard when kids are involved because we are responsible for their well-being. If Caylee grows up into a 300 pound teen with diabetes, whose fault is it? I know how most would answer. And I do wish that all of us would be more careful about what we let our kids put in their mouths. It's tough living in a society where the kid goes to school and gets fed 2 cupcakes at a birthday party. It's tough when you take your kid to dance and they come out with a jelly donut and a coupon for McDonald's. It isn't any easier when every party you go to has brownies and cakes and cookies. I don't have cookies or baked stuff in my home at all, so when we go grocery shopping and my child is with me, I do let her get a free cookie at the bakery. Yesterday the baker came out and handed her a BIG chocolate chip cookie. It was a lot more sugar than she is accustomed to at one sitting. As I was pondering splitting it in half and saving the other half for another day, the baker came back out and tried to hand her another cookie! "It's okay, no thanks," I said. "Take another!" he said to her, holding out the cookie. "Really, it's enough., no thanks," I said, yet he continued to offer it to her, smiling and saying "have another!" as we walked away saying "thanks, bye!"

Anyway, I guess the summary of what I, personally think is that everyone has their struggles. We don't know what they are, so we are best to not assume or judge. Caylee's mom has, in the past, mentioned her child's weight to me. My response was to invite her to dance class, to offer recipes for low sugar whole grain snack bars, to let her know where she could get fresh fruit at a reasonable price. That is all I can do. I can send my child to school with a healthy lunch rather than letting her bring Twinkies or eat the processed meals they sell in the cafeteria. I can make sure *my* child is healthy and active to the best of my ability.


Carrie said...

Well said, as usual, Lyn. Thanks for the thought provoking discussion.

He Took MY Last Name said...

It's so hard because today, everyone equates food with happiness. And special treats like donuts and halloween candy is not an every day thing for some people. For others, its a reality. They eat donuts for breakfast every day and have a bag of m&ms for a snack.

I think one thing that really helps children though, is to keep them involved in some activity. Whether its dance, sports, whatever. I think that is more important, to teach your kid self esteem, and confidence, no matter who they are or what size they are. Being a kid is hard, but I think being a parent is even harder. I don't know that for certain, but as i am pregnant with my first child, I'm about to find out.

Maybe you can reach out to Caylee's mom and offer her some support? Not weight loss related, but just emotional, friendly support and tell her your experiences? That way she can be better prepared for Caylee too. :)

Anonymous said...

One time, when I suggested to my DIL (a thin woman) that her 2 year old should not be drinking pop with lunch, she said, "But that's what he likes!"

My response was, "How does he know that? How is it that he ever decided that he liked pop with a meal in the first place? He's two. Did he buy it for himself?"

We all know the answer to that question. The mom drinks Pepsi all day long. She actually put it in his sippy cup. My grandson drank Pepsi for lunch because that's what his mom likes and she let him know that it was good.

The thing is that children are given parents, not just a bunch of buddies. Parents are not passive victims to their children's whims. It is our job to know what is good for them...and what is not.

You do that for your child. Kaylee's mom is no less capable than you are.

Although, with Kaylee, I do hope that the mom has taken her to a doctor. Her weight sounds unreasonable regardless of what she is eating. I wonder if there is a medical problem.


Oh. Regarding child abuse. Even tho a parent loves her child, even tho a parent is trying to do the right thing, even if the parent means well--that parent's action can still be child abuse.

For example, if a mom gives her 6 year old a glass of beer every night before bed because it helps him get to sleep on time, it wouldn't matter how much she loves him, how well she means, or whether or not she drinks beer herself--we would all say that she must stop that. And if Protective Services were alerted, she would be chared with child abuse. (Although the exact words would be a little different. Child endangerment most likely. I've been out of the field for a while, I forget.)

Intent is considered, but abusive action is just that.

As far as foster care, not all children whose parents are charged with child abuse are placed in foster care. In fact, most are not. The mindset of ProSers over that last couplle of decades has been the goal of keeping families together. Hence the number of atrocities we hear so much about.

It's a tough call. Foster care is not... well, never mind.

But intent means something r/t the severity of the consequences, but endangering a child is endangering a child.

bbubblyb said...

I've talked many times on my blog about my son who has an eating disorder. I do blame myself in part for that for not trying to fix it sooner. I do have compassion for obese people too a ton of it having lived that life for so many years but I do think it's in the control of the parent from the birth of their children to teach them what healthy eating is. I didn't teach my children early on so now I am trying to fix it. When I'm around families that are all at a healthy weight I see their children eating veggies and healthier foods. I know I didn't grow up on those foods so it's not what I fed my family. I am trying to fix some of that in myself and in my family also. It's not easy with a society that loves the fatty and sugary foods and it's thrown in our face everywhere. But I also know that the occasional treat isn't what got those parents or children obese because it sure wasn't what got me that way. It was the food that I brought into my house on a regular basis. So I do believe it is the parents responsibility to help their children to know what healthy eating is. I also believe that if they can't teach their children themselves then they should seek help for themselves and their kids and make it a new family mission. I also think that help should include therapy so that the mental aspects can be addressed because we do all know that is a huge part of obesity.

I do very much enjoy these type of posts Lyn they do get everyone thinking and talking which I think is great in our blogging community.

Janis said...

Not sure about "but a thin kid had the same food and no one minded." I can have a glass of wine with dinner, too -- but an alcoholic simply can't. If one has an addiction problem with something, one needs to step more lightly around it. Is it "fair?" No -- but what does fair mean in this case, anyway? If you can handle an occasional indulgence, then yes. You "get" to have it. If you can't, then you just need to follow different rules around the stuff. I can eat one bite of chocolate or nibble a brownie and stop. Someone else can't, whether that's "fair" or not.

People won't waste a second glance on a table of diners with a glass of wine apiece and yet will indeed look askance at someone else who is drinking to excess. The wine isn't always what people are reacting to; the signs of indulgence to excess are.

If a kid is extremely heavy in a family of more fit folks, I'd recommend taking them to a doctor, frankly. They may have something going on that needs to be addressed for the kid's future health. And I agree with Deb about young kids' food choices. The mother would stop him running into traffic. She'd stop him putting vodka into his bottle no matter how loudly he screamed for it. She can damn well stop him drinking that garbage.

The Girl From Back Then said...

I know all too well. It seems so unfair as they are afterall still children, they are still developing and taking in the world. They shouldn't have to be considering this; a time in their lives when they are supposed to be the most carefree. It's this kind of heckling and bullying that causes crash dieting and equally unhealthy relationships with food later in life. It's such a double standard, like it's only ok to eat as much as you like or need, as long as you are built like a bean pole. If you carry a few extra pounds, you have to restrict, and obsess, and constantly feel inadequate to your svelte peers.

Clearly it's a very fine line as a parent, between not making food a fixation, and ensuring they aren't using it as a comfort/being excessive. How do you get that balance right? You don't want your child to feel like they have to analyse and justify every morsel. Or that they deserve less than any other child on account of the size they are. That they are worth less.

Slim is still being equated with the sum of a person's overall worth, how is that an accurate measure? Just like you wouldn't define someone by their race, or nationality or other such things.

Context is all, and everyones circumstance is different. You'll never know simply by looking at someone. A person is still a person regardless of their shape or size.

American Muslima Writer said...

Not to drag religion into things but well it is there too.
In Islam everything is about Moderation (done properly). Our goal is to moderate our lives and those around us to not to go to one extreme or the other. Eating in Moderation is always what we hear to lose weight.
So having good choices and eating perportional meals.
Same for our children. I read the long debates.

You must provide moderation for children too. Denying them any junk foods is not healthy. They will learn to crave it later and hoard it etc... but to let them go all out whatever they want is not cool either.
There must be limits and moderation. If you can't control your child then you need to be stricter in teaching them and enforcing good habits, just like brushing teeth, eating well is a goal they must learn.

i am overweight and always have been since i was a child (went through foster care) when i was allowed to go to my father's house to live he and his wife (my new mom) let me eat what I wanted and I thought that was amazing after years of near starvation in foster care. SO I ate and ate and ate and yearly grew bigger. They sometimes told me to go out and play not to stay in reading so much but they weren't stricter about MAKING me lose weight or preventing me from it and I WISH OH HOW I WISH they would have!!!!
Sure they bought me a bike and rollerblades but that was casual fun. When they saw I was out of control they didn't help me join a gym or give me educational choices about food. But I stopped blaming them as a teen and started blaming myself. It's now my choice. I tried to start eating better and loosing weight. It's yo-yo ed for years. But fianlly I've been getting it off and keeping it off. I have two children, who have sweet tooths, and I am sure to kick that in the teeth and limit in MODERATION what they eat and how they eat. i show them I'm exercvizing and eating well. I dont limit them from fun foods but in moderation they can have. My older daughter is turning into a PC-potato, but she's still a stick thin girl. I'm trying to encourage her to play more and limiting her PC time (because potatoing anything is not moderation).
I do have Islam for teaching me these things in pratical ways. I have friends who encourage me. But mostly I have my determination not to let my children suffer the same crap I did. I let them see me trying so they know it's a struggle and painful but I still try. They will be empathetic with bigger people without (hopefully) judging them harshly.

And I also agree we coddle ourselves too much in life and on blogs. We tell our friends it's okay to eat crap as long as we are trying to cut down to be encouraging: when we shoudl stay "STOP EATING THAT CRAP HONEY AND GO RUN!!!!" But then we would have to face the humiliation of her sayign it right back to us and we can't mentally handle that so we keep being nice so "they" will be nice.
So to all of you out there struggling...
Stop your whinnning and go do somethign about it....

...yeah me too :)

Godo luck and remember moderation.

Anonymous said...

It's the attitude of the parent (not only in your story, Lyn, but in so many articles, blogs, etc. about childhood obesity and our national eating issue) that disturbs me most. "That's what my child likes. It's not my fault. I can't do anything about it!" The lack of personal responsiblity, not only for your own health, but for your child's, is ridiculous. Like earlier commenters asked, WHO introduced these children to soda, junk food, huge portions, the idea of using food as a reward or a comfort? THE PARENTS...and someone on the original post asked, "what of the fathers in this equation?" And I ask that also, but know full well that it is very much mothers who do the food shopping, cooking and choices of what/where/when to eat out. The original post also posited, what if you saw the overweight parent/child pair walking or eating salad...well, I'd feel somewhat heartened but with reservations...because my experience as a formerly overweight person tells me there is a very good chance they will "reward" themselves for that walk or salad with an ice cream cone as a "treat" that they "earned." As many others have said, legitimate medical reasons for being extremely overweight are RARE. Antidepressants, steroids, psych drugs, etc. that list weight gain as a side effect...yes, maybe you could attribute 10, 20 lbs. to that...not 50, 80, 120 extra pounds. Metabolic disorder? I have Syndrome X/insulin resistance and before I understood what it was I just assumed that I had a weakness for carbs and sugar and I gave in to it. Once I was diagnosed and learned just how dangerous and insidious this disease is, I TOOK IT UPON MYSELF to learn to eat the proper foods, in the correct portions, at the proper times to keep my blood sugar stable and MADE TIME to exercise...and lost 60 lbs. without Metformin or any diet drugs and have kept it off for nearly four years so far. Like most every problem (and I know you know this, Lyn, because you are all about getting to the root cause of what's going on in your life & know that overeating is just a symptom of that) it's all in your head. I speak here of extremely overweight people, I should clarify. The college student who puts on 20 lbs in a year because they're away from home, drinking, living off takeout pizza and lying on the couch playing video games is not the study in eating psychology that perhaps a lifelong, 50+ lbs. overweight person may be. I've taken a long time to say what a few words would have summed up: you would never say you can't stop your kid(s) from playing in traffic or you can't control what they watch on TV/play on the computer...YOU as a parent PROVIDE their environment, so the defensive attitude that seems to be across the board from obese parents of overweight kids is what provokes my judgment of them. The "it's not my fault" that seems to come up in any weight-, food-, health-related conversation...

Shala said...

I am surprised at what strong feelings can be touched off in a thin person by the sight of an obese mother and child. Having been "that child" at one time, I can only say that I never understood why people stared like that or why people told me I shouldn't be eating just as I was about to enjoy something. A lot of you know that feeling. You're out having fun with friends or family and some "well-meaning" person (usually a middle-aged woman) comes along and ruins your night. Maybe you were in tears afterward. Maybe your mom was ashamed. Maybe you were mad and would have liked to dump a bucket of cold water on that "kind" individual so they could see how it felt.
Even obese people get hungry. Sometimes thin people act like they should never eat again till they are thin.
Obese children are hooked on the food rush. Obese children need to be educated about nutrition and about all the other wonderful things there are to do and see in life. They DON'T need to be belittled or humiliated. It's time for the thinnies of the world to learn that.

Anonymous said...

People get too caught up in just the number on the scale. The thin kid who eats the same things as an obese kid (and I'm not talking about the occasional treat) isn't necessarily healthier. They may be blessed with a better metabolism, but the thin kid may one day wake up to find that their metabolism has slowed down and their bad food choices will catch up with them. I know. I was one of those kids.

I don't think you can blame it all on parents, though. Sure, they could teach their kids better. But, it is impossible if you aren't making good choices yourself (kind of like a smoker telling his kids not to smoke). And what if Mom makes the right choices but is still fat? How motivating is it to make the right choices if there is no payoff for it?

Lifestyles have changed, too. As a kid, I ran around outside all day without parent supervision. Today, I would never let my kids play outside without watching them. And since I can't afford to watch them for hours -- they don't get out to play as much. And firmly believe there is more to the childhood obesity epidemic than merely poor eating because I would have been a fat kid if that were the case. Whether it is the additives in food, environmental toxins ... I don't know, but quantity of food and poor food choices doesn't explain it all.

As for seeing obese kids, you're right. You do notice. And perhaps a part of me does judge the parent a little bit but then I remember that I am not doing my best in teaching my kids healthy eating so I need to focus on the log in my own eye before I try to take the speck out of theirs ... But I have great compassion for the child. I do thank God that my fat struggle has been as an adult and not as a child or, even worse, a teenager ... As hard as it is now for me, I'm not sure I would have survived this battle as a kid.

Britt ♥ said...

I think a lot of people just assumed with obese children that the parents are enabling them. It has truth to some agree, because kids are sponges and take away from choices and values that their parents have. If a child sees their parent constantly eat badly, then it's not hard to assume that the child will think this is the best way to eat.

At the same time, you are correct. It's no one else's business except theirs (and perhaps their doctor) and both the mother and child could have lost weight already. Maybe they were out for a cheat treat on their day, and then are subjected to scowls. Bottom line is that I like your message - we never know what is really going on, and therefore we should not judge others.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that really made me think! My (supermorbidly obese) mother has said many times that it's NOT her fault that we were obese children, it was ours (even when I was obese at age 1-2.) As a mother now, I know that's absolute BS.

I saw such a nice post recently on the Medifast boards. A mom saw that her little girl had gained some weight, and worried about the direction she was heading. Without saying anything, the mom casually changed the entire family's diet, cutting back on carbs and adding yummy items like sugar-free jello/ popsicles for dessert for everyone, taking the daughter to play at the park every day, etc. The little girl's weight soon adjusted and she didn't even notice.

When I look back to my own childhood, I wonder how much pain and suffering could have been avoided if my mother had casually improved what foods she served us and increased fun activities for sister and poor sister was so obese and bullied as a child that she developed an eating disorder at AGE 8! She has been in and out of hospitals for treatment for anorexia, bulemia, and suicide attempts many times. She is now 43 and super-obese, sadly.

Obesity truly is a prison, Lyn. I feel compassion for children who are trapped there.

Hugs, Maria

Anonymous said...

I am a fat person coming from a family of anorexics. A lot less stigma for a parent of a thin child even if that child is thin from being starved. People praise it. I know I equate food with happiness. I got food as a reward and spent my childhood forever hungry and longing for something decent to eat. Being fat is one the last things people can be openly stigmatized and shunned for being.

Anonymous said...

Here's a novel idea: If you don't know how to take care of yourself, have extreme emotional problems, and have a greatly decreased life expectancy because of the lifestyle decisions you are making: maybe you shouldn't bring an innocent child into the world! It's so selfish it makes me sick. Am I saying people who struggle with their weight should not be able to have children? Absolutely not, But I feel like anyone, regardless of their weight, should educate themselves as to how to change a diaper, sing a lulabye, and properly nourish their child. For God's sake, why is this a touchy issue? All this " Well the mother has SERIOUS issues" So, what? That makes it ok? The claim that obesity in a child is related to something deeper should not be an excuse, it makes it that much worse! Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Denise said...

Here's a novel idea, Anon - if a person that you deem unfit to have children had the where-with-all and critical thinking skills make an informed decision about having a child in the first place, then they'd probably be able to live up to your standards in the first place. Simple answers usually come from simple thinking.

Eh - Anyway - first time reading,loved what you had to say.

My 11 year old is solidly in the overweight category. It's one of those things that snuck up on me. From toddlerhood til 9 years old he was super skinny. 90th percentile for heigths and 60th for weight.
Then one summer he gained 17 lbs in 10 weeks. The year after that he put on almost another 20 lbs.
Getting him to eat something was always a challenge, and then suddenly it wasn't. We weren't prepared to handle the change he made and didn't really realize that he was going from normal weight to heavy so fast, because it didn't become really obvious until that last 10 lbs or so.

Not every fat kid was *always* a fat kid. And then some are.
Like you were saying about the 350ish lb mom - you don't know if she'd already lost some weight. Maybe her kid had too.

My son works really hard at monitoring his food intake now. I've told him that our goals for him are for him to be more physically fit and to make better food choices, but that I'm not concerned with him losing weight - just not gaining any for a little while.
He was really open to it.

Anonymous said...

Well, people are probably reacting to the girls and not what's on their plates. If you see a slim girl having a treat day, she's happy and all is right with that. If you see a weight-conscious girl eating junk and probably somewhat bored or anxious about it, it sets off different emotions. childhood obesity is disturbing no matter how you cut it. When i was growing up, I ate a lot of "junk" food alongside my veggies and fruits, didn't exercise, and I was thin as a rail. I didn't obsess about foods, I didn't binge drive through foods since I couldn't drive. If I look at my 5yo nephew, he needs as many calories (due to growing and activity) as a sedentary (short) female adult, but his stomach is 1/4 of the size, so it's not surprising that he wants to eat calorie dense pizza and nuts and has no interest in salad. And he looks normal.

Anonymous said...

It may not be child abuse: plain and simple, but it's child abuse. I think it is a touchy issue because people with obese children, love their children. But yes, they are bringing their children serious physical harm, and the state/ friends/ neighbors/ strangers, should absolutely step in. It takes a village.

Anonymous said...

Denise: my standards are simply to not abuse children, physically, emotionally or sexually. Over feeding a child to a degree that they become obese, does just as much emotional and physical damage as most forms of abuse that get children taken away from their parents. And yes, I agree that friends, neighbors, and in some circumstances the state, need to step in and protect these poor poor children. Not everyone has the mental capacity to know better than to bring people into this world that they cannot care for, and sadly, that is why we need state involvement.

Swistle said...

I love "Seeing is NOT judging. It is observation. It is a function of our eyeballs."

I also love that you pointed out that people come to different conclusions depending on who's holding the plate. My kids are all thin, even though they're not very active and don't have strict diets. I get SO ANGRY when I see people judging my friend's two kids differently than they judge mine, when her two kids are in several active extracurriculars and eat far better nutrition than mine do.

Anonymous said...

What a great discussion to be having. Of course, there is no simple answer. I have two daughters, one naturally thin and one who came out of the womb loving to eat. I mean, she just seemed not to have any of the natural ability to know when she was full. More than once as a toddler she ate so much she threw up. Her weight stayed ok until about age 9 and then she started packing on pounds. But to be honest, I was packing on pounds as well, and we both ended up obese. I went through agony over how to help her, worrying myself sick over the situation, feeling helpless in the face of her food choices and the amount she was eating, and also feeling defensive for her and feeling it was her right to eat what she wanted. NOBODY can feel confident or happy with someone telling them what to eat or not eat.

However, at one point I finally took decisive action. I gave up my own extreme love of cooking/baking/eating. I threw out all my fancy cookbooks and recipes and started cooking very simple, plain wholesome foods. I stopped cooking pastas and other quick to fix meals. I emptied the cupboard of fudge brownie mixes and other such junk. I loved baking but I gave it up and only baked at Christmas and then for only one special family day where we all made our favorites. Its become a great tradition. I stopped cooking a carb at dinner (other than a random sweet potato) but I always had good quality whole grain yummy bread available to eat as desired, as well as two vegetables. I never had sugary cereals or soda to begin with so those weren't an issue. And I focused on making myself healthy and active. And I left her alone to eat what she wanted of what was there. And that worked. She eventually lost all the extra weight on her own without ever going on one official diet. Today she is a gorgeous college student who is a size 8 or 10.

The work was with me. The example of going out to a buffet was an interesting one. Personally, I can't see any place for a buffet in the eating plan of a family with trouble with obesity. Better to go once in awhile to a higher quality place where there is table service and waiters and make it an event versus another excuse to eat a bunch of crap. But it took me a very hard look at myself and a willingness to truly change my own idea of what a healthy diet is before I could see any of this.

Looking back my biggest mistake is in not realizing just how little food our bodies really need. There is no way a gigantic plate of pasta with meat sauce with garlic bread on the side is a "normal" meal. But for me it seemed like it was. I needed to accept that there are a lot of very delicious foods out there that just aren't ok to eat--except once or twice a year. Nobody even misses the old ways, we all love our new way of eating. I lost 75 pounds with this approach (took me three years), my husband lost about 20, overweight daughter lost about 30, skinny daughter who never ate more than she wanted to begin with stayed the same.

Inspiring.Informative.Important said...

I just love your blog!!
Thnx for such wonderful info

Anonymous said...

@ anon: Ok Let me simplify it for you:
Child: "I'm hungry, can I have more dinner?"
Parent "WEll Sure sweetheart, let me get you some more steamed fresh green beans and roast chicken."
Child "But I'm hungry for oreos!"
Parent: " There are no oreos in the house, and your sister/ favorite show/ neighbor/ family game night/homework is waiting

What if they have been playing outside all day?

What do you mean what if they have been playing outside all day, I sure hope they have, thats what kids do! They don't need a bag of cheetos and a soda because they have been active.

What if they are in a growth spurt?

Again I ask, what child is not in a growth spurt? Its not like I would have reached 5'9 instead of 5'8.5 if I had eaten just a few more snickers, a dozen more butterfingers, 15 more icecream
cones, and 18 more bags of chips.

It really bothers me when people have to take things to such an extreme. ( stunted growth etc) Should anyone starve their child to a degree that they have stunted development? NO! and that is not the issue. Don't go to extremes to defend your case as to why over feeding a child is ok.

What if they complain of being hungry all evening:

Approximate the number of calories that they have eaten in that day, bring them a glass of water to make sure its just not thirst. If its right before bed? THEY CAN WAIT! Tell them a story instead. A lot of children just want to eat because they are bored. Genuinely starving? Ok, Celery and peanut butter, carrots and hummus, kale chips etc

Do You ban all sweets from the house:
YES! You can keep the sweetness of having a happy healthy family in the house, but the twinkies have to go.

Control what they eat at a friends house?
I should hope so! You want to make sure that the mother of your childs friend knows that you dont want your child coming home bouncing off the walls on soda and if that is unreasonable! Don't just drop your kid off anywhere that you deem unsafe, or where you know that your parental requests will be disrespected.
And Finally, What 12 year old girl isn't throwing a fit? Her dad could say, " come slit this cheesecake with me" and she would say " YOU ARE TRYING TO MAKE ME FAT" ARrgh etc.
Weak, weak argument

Anonymous said...

You know, I think people are very judgemental about this issue and it is unwarranted in many ways. My mother tried very hard not to follow the mistakes her mother made and to help us with weight by getting us into fun physical activities, feeding us healthy foods, and taking us on active family outings often. My sister and I are both obese. I think there are many things we could attribute this to, but our parents aren't one of them. I am now the mom to a skinny kid, who not only can eat whatever the heck he wants without others making judgements about it, but is subjected to outright food pushing by relatives and friends. He has been pushed food until he throws up by a well-meaning famiy member twice and family members routinely insinuate that I am not feeding him nutritiously enough (e.g., one family member insisted that not feeding him goldfish crackeres on a regular basis was leading to a lack of nutrients because they are enriched). In addition, EVERY ONE of his activities (dance, soccer, t-ball)ends with a crappy snack --something we would never eat at home. The public school he'll go to next year provides lots of terrible food as well. I certainly think parents have responsiblities to watch their children's eating habits and I take my job at home seriously in this regard (for example, "I'm hungry" is answered with the offer of a fruit or vegetable, we eat healthy foods with fruit as a dessert and a once/week ice cream out treat). However, my mother did the same and it did not solve the issues that I have with eating. Blaming is the easy way out, IMO.

Ron from NJ said...

I have to admit, when I read your initial post, I didn't intend to comment because of my opinion on the subject...but then I started to read all the comments and my ire grew with each one. It made me so annoyed I had to write my own post on it. Thanks for letting me share it with you and your readers...feel free to let me know what you think.