Thursday, February 7, 2013

Passing on my Fat Genes

This is probably going to cause a fight, but this is a topic that I hold very close to my heart. Yesterday, I was watching Anderson Cooper (DVRed - I got kids - I watch my shows on their schedule!) and it was about the "Diet Mom." You know the one - the one who put her 7 year old kid on a diet.

I don't even really know how to start this because in a room full of people, I am probably the only one that seems to be able to understand her side of the story. Dara-Lynn Weiss, author of The Heavy, is the woman responsible for starting such a controversy.

First off, let me say, I don't believe in putting children on a diet. Sometimes kids just have what I like to call baby fat. They will grow out of it.

However, childhood obesity is a big problem. It isn't something we can really deny. What is the source of childhood obesity?

  • Is it the lack of parenting in the first place that might cause the child to develop poor eating habits to begin with?
  • Is it the food that is offered due to financial restraints or possibly a lack of time?
  • Is it the lack of recesses at school to get in more education?
  • Is there too many video games and not enough time outdoors?
I really don't have a straight answer to that. But I do know that Childhood Obesity is a problem and it is something that needs to be addressed. However, I am not talking about putting your child on a diet that has 10 vanity pounds to lose. I am talking about the children whose doctors are classifying them as obese and are having health issues because of their weight.

Yesterday when I was watching the show, I was insanely frustrated. Why? Because the body image consultant blamed Weiss for passing on her obsession for weight since she had admitted to having body image problems when she was a teenager. And therefore, she was vicariously living through her daughter by putting her on a diet. And the other woman, who was blaming her for her future daughter having an eating disorder. And then questioning whether she actually loved her child because she put her on a diet. I was about to lose it. Some of these people sounded ignorant!

Why? Because they don't know what is going on behind the scenes. They are looking at the outside picture and they are listening to everyone else saying how wrong this is. And it all revolves around the word "DIET!"

I made my kids a smoothie with spinach in it so they
would enjoy their vegetables. Does that make me a bad
parent for pushing a "Diet" on my kids!
So yesterday I sat down at dinner and we had a family talk about diet. After all, I was that child that struggled with being heavy. I was that child that might have needed to be put on a diet. But on top of that, I was also that child who grew up into a woman constantly obsessed with diet pills, constantly obsessed with exercising, and constantly obsessed with the number on the scale. I would hate to pass on my fat genes to my kid! So after listening to this show, I wanted to make sure my kids understood the word diet.

The definition of diet is:
Food or drink regularly consumed. Habitual nourishment.
Ok - so it can also be used as a verb, meaning to cut calories. But for the most part, being on a diet is eating. If you have a diet of chocolate and french fries, you are still on a diet. Who am I to judge. The question is what you choose to be a part of your diet!

And if you have to count your calories so you can understand what a proper serving size is and the proper amount of food you should eat in a day, what does it matter? Does it really affect you? But the reality is, we have been teaching our kids that eating large servings of food is acceptable. It is not. It will and has made us fat! Obesity is a disease and it is something that we can change if we want to!

Now, according to the body image consultant, my obsessive exercising, my need to count calories to stay within my weight range is showcasing a bad example to my kids. In fact, they will probably have an eating disorder later in their life because of it. Why? Cause I am obviously passing on to them my fat genes.

I work out like it is a career. My kids see that. But does that
mean they will find their weight something to obsess over
or that they will find joy in a good sweat!
However, I don't believe that. Because I talk to my kids about diet and exercise. But I don't emphasize diet. I emphasize making good choices. I explain to them why it is important to exercise. Why it is important to choose fruits and vegetables.

Guess what? I may have had an obsession with dieting when I was younger and maybe even still a little even though I am adult. But my kids don't. They are healthy and to me, that is what is important. I have talked to them over and over again on the importance of loving themselves and loving what they look like, regardless of what size they are.

So what is missing from the diet aspect? It is the open communication that I have with my children. You need to talk to them about body issues, and healthy eating and healthy choices. And you also need to lead by example. And if your kid is obese and it isn't due to a medical issue, than that means you, as a parent, aren't doing your job. It shouldn't even have gotten to that.

But that is ultimately what is going to happen when your kid spends too much time in front of the TV, computer or even their Ipad. That is what is going to happen when they eat adult sized meals. That is what is going to happen when it is normal to have ice cream every night. That is what happens when you introduce them to large portion sizes and a sedentary lifestyle.

And if a doctor classified my child as being obese, you can damn well be assured that I too will be putting my kid on a diet. However, I wouldn't call it a diet. I would call it what it is... A Lifestyle Change!


  1. I have to agree with you,'s all about the communication and how you, the parent act as a role model in the diet/food scene.

    My mom was a peds nurse and obsessed with me losing 10 pounds all through my childhood. I was always dieting and miserable...and hungry!

    Kudos to you for breaking the habit and teaching your kids the healthy way!

  2. I must be passing on my fat genes to my kids too!

    We regularly have talks about making good choices,what poor choices do to you, etc. My son knows all too well what eating like crap can do for you in competition.

    Hopefully we can instill the 80/20 rule and just making proper choices.

  3. I have to say that this needs to be discussed and aired out in our society today. Blame? Its lame in my excuse. It is time we just start ignore processed crap and and be active. That is it! That is what many people did as a kid and was an average size. The problem is that the average size of a kid is growing. I tis like global warming, hard to notice cause it is nation wide.

    If kids change their lifestyle they won't need a diet. Period. I agree with what you are saying Stacy and kudos to you for saying it...

  4. Our society needs help. You know, people in 3rd world countries eat better than we do BECAUSE they go and buy fresh foods from the local market (and of course, this isn't always the case). But yeah, when I was traveling in Central America, I actually ate so well because everything was local and fresh. I can't believe that in this country of plenty, so many are starved for "real food" and end up on diets to restrict all the bad stuff we all like to consume. *sigh* Great, great post!

  5. I agree that the word diet has a very different meaning with different people...But, if the meaning diet means to exercise and keeping a tab on your intake...should be it.

    However, with the percentage of Americans being overweight, if the mom sees that the kid has or could have inherited her "fat" genes, there is no harm in applying brakes on some foods.

    Good topic of discussion and I hear ya on every angle, Stacy :)

  6. You're 100% right! Not only do poor eating habits teach the wrong thing to a child, but they create a target for the politically correct asses that only see things from one perspective. I wish I could tell you how many times I was forced to eat everything on my plate so that we didn't waste food. I was full long before completion, but that was the way of the times. The human body knows when it has had enough. Forcing more into it destroys the natural instincts. When I lost 60 pounds in four months a few years ago, I forced myself to ask myself before every bite if I was still hungry. If I was, I ate the bite. If not, I put the fork down and pushed away the remainder of the food. I lost the weight, felt much more healthy, looked a lot better. I've been doing that again, and the weight has been slowly coming down. Great post and attitude!

  7. I agree with you, Stacy, pretty much on all counts. I think that you are being a healthy, strong role model for your kids and talking to them about all this is the most important thing. It's about the health of the child and being obese is not healthy. It increase their life long risk for multiple diseases.
    I have thought about this a great deal. I've struggled with my self esteem / body image forever and I don't want to pass that on to my girls. My own mom was anorexic for much of my childhood and thinness is prized in my family and I know that the negativity from that has had a tremendous impact on the way I see myself.
    I read (just last night) a quote from Kate Winslet saying that she wants her daughter to love her body - that she never knew a grown woman (when she was a kid) that said she loved her own body so she wanted her daughter to have that, no matter what her size! I don't think I have been giving that to my girls and they need it!
    I think it's important to be able to accept our bodies and our genetic tendencies to be round or not, but not to use that as an excuse to deny that we need to take action for ourselves or our kids to improve our health with a different (healthier) lifestyle.

  8. Our society is sending mixed signals with the choice of wordage. The proper definition of "diet," as you explained, has become synonymous with having to lose weight and it's unfortunate.

    Don't even get me started on how society has caused the issues of having to be thin to be anything remotely successful. Until more people stand-up and demand a change, nothing will ever happen.

    I think you are making the right choices in showing your kiddos how to eat healthy and exercise.

  9. Great post! I really enjoyed it. Thank you

  10. Stacey. Nobody can possibly agree with you more than me. I am hearing you 100% and if that makes me wrong well then too fkng bad. I grew up with body issues because my parents never taught me to stop eating, to not comfort eat, they just let me do it for fear of drawing attention to it and possibly making things worse. I don't want my daughter doing the same so I make her aware of over eating and I educate her about how much a healthy portion size is, etc.

    It's got nothing to do with being fixated on "being thin", but being healthy and not using food as a psychological way of dealing with stress/anxiety/etc.

    Great post, really great.


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