How do you Diet and not Give Your Kids an Eating Disorder?

I’ve always had a fairly healthy body image, even though I wish I wore a bikini more in my 20s when I didn’t think I was perfect.  (Now I know I was).

I’m 40, I’ve had three kids and I can’t eat what I want anymore.   Extra pounds started to creep up on me and even though I didn’t love my rounded face in recent pictures of myself, I was fine with the other curves. I didn’t feel the need to worry too much about my weight until right before the holidays when I stepped on the scale at the doctor’s office.  The number was close to my third trimester pregnancy weight, meaning, I had gained back the baby weight I lost (baby is 15 months old).    Even worse, the medical assistant asked what my other kids thought about the new baby that was coming.  Needless to say, it was a low point.

My best friend from high school who has always struggled with her weight gave me some gentle pointers on how to enjoy the holidays and obtain some control.  I promised to email her what I ate every day, and I found myself choosing healthier options, especially when I knew I was going to booze it up that night.   After New Year’s Day, I joined Weight Watchers with a friend from my town.  I’ve lost almost 12 pounds since that fateful day at the doctor’s office and feel good and more like myself.  I am making healthier choices each day (more fruits and vegetables, more conscious of eating protein and portion size).   It’s only been 2 months so I am not going to do an Oprah and say my life has changed forever because I am skinnier and I’ll never be fat again.

But I worry about the message I’ve been giving to my kids.

Last night at bedtime, my daughter said, “Wow, mommy!  You are good at losing weight!”   I believe she was trying to compliment how smokin’ I looked in my Gilligan O’Malley Target pajamas but trying to mother a girl to have a good body image can be diminished if her mother is counting (subtly on her iPhone) Weight Watchers points.  I was open with my two older kids:  “I am eating healthier to lose some of my belly weight that I gained from having your baby brother.  I am eating more fruits and vegetables.  I am walking to get my body stronger.”   My middle son was talking about counting fruits and vegetables for a Strive for Five contest at school and asked “should I join Weight Watchers, too?”  I think he was asking because of my cool iPhone app, which is way cooler than the paper calendar he’s using for Strive for Five, but again, I cringed.

I have friends with eating disorders whose mothers dieted throughout their childhood.  I don’t believe in owning a scale.   I am annoyed by today’s parents who say, “McDonald’s is poison” or don’t let their kids have real butter and give them lite this and that.   Real food is good, practice moderation and enjoy a Happy Meal once a month for Pete’s sake I always say.  But now I am the Points counter.

Hearing what my kids have to say about Weight Watchers has made me think twice about what I model.  I don’t want them to worry about their weight because they are perfect.



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One response to “How do you Diet and not Give Your Kids an Eating Disorder?

  1. First of all, kudos to you for joining weight watchers or whatever organization will give you strength in numbers with support and feedback, even though it is not for me. Too many people in today’s society have been brainwashed as to what is actually healthy food. Contrary to what they have been told by the media and through commercials that are just trying to sell their latest product, those products labeled “light” and “Low fat” are actually bad for our diets and have many other dangerous ingredients added while eliminating some of the most important nutrients that our bodies actually need. I have been spending a good deal of time the past couple of years reading up on the importance of good fats in our diets. Perhaps I could turn you on to some articles about why we need real “grass fed” butter and other healthy fats such as coconut oil in moderation to feed our cells and keep us healthy along with building our immune system at the same time. I’m not an expert, but I try to make as many folks aware out there that they have been brainwashed for a very long time with some very inaccurate data, all in the name of boosting the bottom lines of many big food companies. Good luck to you and my advice is to continue to educate your children as often as possible with the facts about health and make learning about eating well fun.

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