Weight Loss Support - How to avoid giving your kids issues?

05-17-2012, 08:57 PM
This has been on my mind a lot lately, and another mom just made a post about contributing to her daughter's weight issue, so I decided to post my own thread to see if anyone can relate!

I am the mama of two beautiful little people. My son just turned 3 and my daughter is 1. Neither of them are overweight. I was overweight probably by the age of 10. My parents are not overweight and I really don't think they contributed to any food issues I have. That being said, I'm really paranoid about giving my own children issues. My son is a human garbage disposal. He wants to eat all day long. He'll literally cry, "My belly's not full... I need something to eat" two minutes after finishing his previous snack. I just figured that he was a growing boy and really was hungry, but we just had his 3 year well-check and his weight percentile has jumped up a lot in the last year. I'm trying to explain to him in a way that he'll understand that our bellies don't need to be full all of the time, we need to let our bellies settle, etc. It's hard, but I've started telling him "No, it's not time for a snack right now. We'll get an apple in an hour." We also talk about healthy and unhealthy foods and we don't have any junk food in our house (which is nothing new).

I'm torn because obviously I don't want to over-feed him and contribute to a weight issue, but I also don't want him to grow up feeling like I always denied him food, or was overly restrictive.

There are some things that I think I'm doing right...
-They very rarely get fast food (maybe once every couple months, fruit instead of french fries), for the most part we avoid fatty and sugary foods and eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies on a daily basis.
-I never make them feel like they need to "clean their plates"
-They're active and see exercise as a normal part of life. We go to the gym most mornings and they love playing in the child-watch area while mommy works out.

I'm just wondering what other parents make an effort to do (or NOT do) in order to help their children avoid the weight issue that we've all dealt with.

Two of my best friends have also struggled with weight... One has a mom who "loved" her with food growing up, and the other has a mom who always made her feel like she wasn't thin enough and pressured her into diets from a very young age. I want to try to foster and HEALTHY relationship with food and eating.

05-17-2012, 09:02 PM
I would love to see what people have to say. I have a 4 year old and lately it seems like she constantly wants to eat... She's always hungry. I dont like telling her she can't eat, but I have been overweight my whole life and I don't want my children to go through that. I'm kinda at a loss. :/

05-17-2012, 09:42 PM
I'm glad I'm not alone... I am so torn on what to do! I always offer him healthy snacks but still, you can overeat healthy food too!

05-17-2012, 09:44 PM
I have read that the best approach is to prepare healthy food, and just leave it on the table. Let the kids pick and choose what parts of that healthy meal they want to serve themselves, and how much. To make no comment on what they choose, how much or how little. That over the course of a month, it's been proven that most kids will naturally choose a healthy diet - as long as there's no junk/sweets in the picture.

That said though, I totally get how hard it is in practice. I have 3 kids aged 8,7 and 3. The 8 year old is thin as a whip, and subsists on air. He is extremely picky, hates most veggies, loves fruit though thank goodness, and eats very little for his size and age. He is a bit underweight for his height. I have to constantly stop myself from encouraging/coaxing him to eat. I am always tempted to give him desserts after dinner just so that he's eaten something - even though I know it's the wrong approach. It's hard to watch your child eat literally nothing.

Our daughter though, aged 7, is the polar opposite. She eats like it's the last meal she's ever going to see (except breakfast, when she rarely has a big appetite). She shovels in her food in gigantic mouthfuls, uses her fingers to grab/shove things in.. really it's pretty gross. :lol: We are working on table manners, believe me.. She is not overweight, but tall and perfectly proportioned - probably because she's very sporty and active. But what worries me is that she doesn't seem to have a 'full' button - when she goes to birthday parties she'll literally eat until she vomits (usually when she arrives home). Even at the dinner table she'll keep taking seconds and thirds. I know I'm not supposed to comment or control.. but it's really hard to watch when you know she's already eaten more than an adult and is reaching for more. At that point I usually tell her that in order to have a balanced and healthy meal, if she's still hungry she should eat another veggie or have a fruit. Then she usually stops.

Our little guy is somewhere between the two, and a little chubby (maybe got mama's genes...). ;) He does make healthy choices though, likes some veggies and lots of fruits, so I try to just leave him to it. So far I think he has a very healthy relationship with food - he eats a lot some days and very little others. He never gorges himself, although he really does love some foods (which my oldest son never does).

So... long winded answer but... try not to control too much.. put lots of healthy things on the table and let them take whatever they want. Watch over the course of a month to see what they're choosing. My guess is that your little guy is probably hitting a growth spurt so needs the extra energy...

05-17-2012, 10:17 PM
My kid has her "eat like a bird" times and then her "eat like a horse" times. I just feed her healthy meals as best I can to match the times.

Sometimes I know she's just wanting to have junkier things because I'll suggest what is still missing (you are missing a veg still... let's have some of that before repeating a bread. How about carrots with ranch?)

Other times I know she's hungry because she's totally fine with going through the food groups once before repeating.

I eat diabetic style, so everyone else around here does by default. We keep to measuring out portions for the exchanges and I do not have her clean her plate. It's fine to save for later. She can pretty much help herself to whatever so long as she checks in first so I know what it is.

I remind her to eat food groups before repeating herself so it isn't the all bread channel.

I do not talk about my weight in front of her, I do not read fashion magazines, I do not body bash anything. I think she's doing fine.

She is a slim thing like her daddy and like I was before PCOS/IR -- so I don't much worry about it. She's got our shape. I worry about about her teen years and if I've passed the PCOS on to her or not.


05-17-2012, 10:43 PM
I find that children are pretty self regulating when it comes to food.

I have a 4 year old daughter and an 8 year old son.

I have healthy options available at all times. I never deny food when they say they're hungry (unless it's within an hour of a planned mealtime) and I never push food when they say they're not. I let them make those choices. They have yet to overfeed or starve themselves ;). They are naturally healthy eaters so I don't have to push the issue. Both of them would rather have an apple than a candy bar. I don't keep junk in the house anyway. It's not something they're used to having so it's a non issue. Kids go through phases, too. Sometimes they don't eat much and sometimes they seem to be bottomless pits!! It all evens out. My children are both healthy weights.

Start them off with a good foundation and they'll continue to make good choices.

Arctic Mama
05-17-2012, 11:49 PM
I do almost the same as Val. Unless we are eating soon I offer a healthy snack if they say they are hungry, because I don't want them ignoring hunger cues. If they aren't really hungry celery and peanut butter or apples will be turned down ;)

I serve healthy, balanced, regular meals and don't make them clean their plate, but they must eat their veggies first before digging into their fruit and main course. And if they're being very picky or not very hungry, I allow them to leave the table with the qualifier that they will have to eat the leftovers for their next meal (therefore if they get hungry later they get the same thing, which eliminates a lot of pickiness or refusing to eat as a method of holding out for a more preferred food ;)).

We also do treats semi-regularly. I have no problem with a piece of candy or a cookie every day or two, and my kids are happy and healthy eating just a small serving and not getting more. I teach them that these things are nice but don't help them grow big and strong, and we don't eat them all the time.

None of my kids have weight issues or look like they might be developing unhealthy food habits, so I'm encouraged so far. I worry about this too but just do the best I can to have a healthy, but balanced approach.

05-18-2012, 06:00 AM
I don't have kids so my experience is purely from an observation POV. I'd say maybe go for a bigger emphasis on exercising-especially outdoors. You didn't actually say what exercise they get so this might be irrelevant-but I see a lot of kids growing up now sat on the sofa all day with FB or something. I'm not surprised when they turn out with behavioral issues or problems concentrating and overeat. (Absolutely not suggesting this is what you do, just making a point:))
Even though I'm an adult I find my appetite is most regulated after some outdoor exercise/time, more likely to overeat if I stay in all day etc. I really hate being confined to indoors and even shops and places which are underground or with no natural lighting etc.

Imo, kids need outdoor time to play in parks, run around, bike and so on. Maybe you could even consider swapping some gym sessions for outdoor exercises or walks with them.

As for food I'd say always have things to snack on unless it is very near meal times-But make it things like carrot sticks/yoghurts/berries/maybe some yoghurt covered raisin type things. Obviously you know better what will help them grow so you can tailor it more specific to their needs.

Like I said, I don't have kids so my suggestions may be impractical but it's just my 2 cents.

05-18-2012, 10:47 AM
I agree with what a lot of the others have said. My daughter isn't really old enough (20 months) that we can tell how she is with food; so far she's heavy on protein and veggies and only picks at breads and starches. But my son goes through serious phases. As a toddler, he would eat everything but never sat still so maintained weight at or below the 50th percentile. He then got it in his head that he didn't like vegetables :rolleyes: and then he wouldn't anything chicken. :headache:

We made him try everything on his plate every meal without the "clean your plate" mentality. Protein and veggies. Finally, in the last few weeks he's gotten really good about eating carrots, broccoli, green beans, cauliflower and finally chicken! :D We have a "dessert" after dinner but it's usually fruit: natural applesauce, berries and light cream, a banana, etc. We always stressed that dinner was more important as it gave him proper nutrition which helps him grow strong. Now he'll eat a piece of chicken or carrot and ask me to feel his muscles.

Basically, I guide healthy behaviors but try not to push. There's nothing around that's terribly unhealthy unless DH brings in a candy bar but the kids nor I can see it. What drives me crazy is the Pre-K program through the school district serves lunch in the classroom and it's utter sh*t!!! Don't give my son cocoa puffs! But that's another rant for another day. :mad:

05-18-2012, 11:46 AM
I was just listening to the audiobook of "Mindless Eating" and he has a chapter on how to best encourage 'mindless' healthy eating in children. It might be worth a look.

(He's a food researcher who studies psychology and marketing, so the argument is all about how our food choices are influenced by subtle cues in our environment. He offers suggestions from his research as to how to 'trick' ourselves into eating less and healthier food.)

05-18-2012, 11:59 AM
I'm pretty lax with food "rules" as they apply outside the house. My 6 year old spends a lot of time with his grandparents and they are pretty good about not giving him too much junk because he ends up with stomach issues if they do. At home we keep fruit and veggies for snacks and bread gets made only once every couple of weeks. Dinner is meat and veggies and they rarely need anything else. My 16 month old is a good eater and a chubby, active little man. He eats real food and few sweets. I try not to mention weight too much in front of the 6 year old as he is sensitive and easily picks up on stuff like my own body issues.

05-18-2012, 12:55 PM
My daughter shocked the heck out of me one day when she announced she was cutting back on chocolate milk because she needed to lose weight. I asked her why she felt that she needed to lose weight, and she had no answer (like other kids called her fat or whatever). I took it as an opportunity to talk to her a little bit about normal weight, healthy weight and overweight. I told her that I'm dieting because I'm over weight. She didn't need to be on a diet because not only is she still growing, she's within her normal weight for her age and height. I don't know if it made any difference. I think she was just getting tired of her brothers giving her a hard time about how much chocolate milk she drinks. I told the boys that they needed to mind their own business. Honestly, why does it matter to them what she eats and drinks in a day?

I'm not a "clean your plate" mom, but I do insist that if I bothered to cook it, they're going to bother to eat it. If nothing else, I will insist they eat the veggies, and then they may be excused. If they don't eat any dinner (and I don't mean clean your plate, but eat something) or they take two bites and are "stuffed" then they don't get to snack after dinner. Sorry, if you are so hungry, you should have eaten your dinner.

My kids eat way too much junk. I don't like it, but I gave up on that battle a long time ago. I don't bring crap in the house, but my husband does. I make sure to keep fruit and veggies in the house, though, and praise the heck out of them when they choose an apple over a cookie. They are normal weight for their ages and height.

I don't think my weight stems from my parents or my family. My mom was always concerned about her weight, and dieted constantly. I was a chunky child so my mom put me on a diet, telling me it was due to a blood sugar disorder. I was never tested to support her claim. To this day, I believe it is because she thought I was fat. However, during my childhood, I don't recall her saying I couldn't have something because she thought I was fat. She always kept healthy snacks within reach and as a child, I was more likely to choose fruit over a cookie. Yet I have battled the weight my whole life! I think my big weight issues really came about due to my own crazy-making and a starving student mentality. If it's there, I eat it like it could be my last meal. Sometimes I comfort eat or boredom eat.

I continue to set a good example with fitness and healthy eating, for whatever it's worth. They're going to turn out how they turn out, but I'll try to set the best example I can and teach the best I can so that hopefully they have a decent foundation to stand on when they become adults.

05-18-2012, 01:18 PM
My two boys don't seem to have food issues yet, they eat well balanced meals and I actually still feed them whole milk and lots of nuts ect. They are both under the recommended weight for their ages (4 and 6 boys and part Asian). I was wondering if I should give them ensure?? Their doc recomended carnation instant breakfast, which I have given them but its full of sugar!

One thing I do need to be careful of is their image of me and how that translates to their own self image. They have overheard me say things like, " If I loose more weight, I can fit into this....", or " I can't eat that, it has too many calories" ect. I need to be careful what I say in casual conversation.

A boy at school told my oldest boy this week that his mom (me) was fat. Imagine my sadness as this news came after I have lost nearly 40 pounds.

I don't want my kids growing up with my issues and I want them to have respect for me and my self worth and health. I don't want them to be ashamed of me.

05-18-2012, 02:05 PM
Thank you all so much for your thoughtful responses!

Serendipity907, sorry I didn't make it clear, they get a ton of physical activity. I'm a SAHM, so we spend a lot of our time at the park, taking walks, meeting friends at the playground, etc. They also spend most evenings running around our backyard with the dogs and chickens while my husband gardens. :) We don't have cable, or video games, so they don't spend much time sitting around.

I don't mind them getting occasional treats when we're out and about (for instance, we'll be going out for ice cream tonight, as it's my birthday) but I personally don't keep it in the house a) because I don't have self control and b) because my 3 year old would ask me 87x a day if he could have cookies, candy, etc. ;)

05-18-2012, 02:26 PM
I implement an 80/20 rule for my daughter. I provide her with clean, healthy foods 80% of the time, and allow for treats or junkier food 20% of the time.

Since I put vegetables into her nuggets, meatballs, mac and cheese, etc, and I serve about 1/3 of her plate with an additional veggie, I don't worry too much about volume. She hasn't exhibited any issues yet and she seems to go back and forth from wanting to eat a lot to not wanting to eat at all.

If she did suddenly want to eat seconds and thirds for a long period of time, I'd probably think twice about the foods I give her and what can satisfy her for longer.

05-19-2012, 02:19 PM
I just thought I'd chime in with one last thing, it hasn't really occurred to me before because my dads family were very vocal about my eating and weight 'problem'-But prior to all that my mum was quite conservative on giving us junk food/sweets and sugary drinks and we generally ate quite natural and healthy foods.

She never said it was because it was unhealthy or fattening, but that it was bad for our teeth. She probably meant it too, as my brother and I were slim and this was in the 90's, so a bit before the childhood obesity issues came over to England. But either way I think it really helped not give me any funny issues with weight/food at a young age.

I think in a way if you're providing healthy foods and plenty of physical activity as you are, I would try and not over think the issue. I wouldn't put too much emphasis on portions/food types whether good or bad. But I imagine that's a lot easier to say than do :p