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Old 05-20-2010, 01:10 PM   #1
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Default Kids on diets?

First of all, I am NOT a parent, so I can only speak from opinion and observation, and not experience. I know raising a child is probably the hardest thing to do, and each family's situation needs to be handled individually. I am not passing judgement on anybody.

Whew, anyways...we all know that overweight and obese children is an issue these days. They talk about it on the news all the time, and you just have to drive by a park or community pool to see a surprising amount of more-than-babyfat chubby kids. Whether it's a result of crappy food served in schools, parents bad influence, the fast food companies, etc...it's a problem.

Well I was just wondering how all you moms (and dads...and non-parents, maybe those of you who were overweight kids have an opinion) would feel about putting your kids on a diet. On one hand, of course you want your kids to be healthy, and you want to protect them from teasing, etc. Many of us were overweight youngsters and know how it feels to grow up with low self esteem because of our weight. However, how would you approach the situation? Would you explain to your kids that they're fat and they need to do this this and this to get down to this weight?

This is just kind of a discussion thread on the topic. I started because I just found out one of my good childhood friends has been hospitalized or anorexia. When we were about 10 years old, I was snacking on some Teddy Grahms or something, and she looked at me horrified and said "don't you know how many carbs are in that!?" Whenever I went to her house, her mom was always talking about her weight, asked if she'd weighed that morning, what she'd eaten, etc. She was a loving mom, and was trying to do it in a fun way with gold star stickers and such, but I don't think she realized how much damage she was doing to her daughter. When I ate at their house, the rest of the family and myself ate "normal" food, while she ate a bit of grilled chicken and salad. Sure, she lost weight, was a skinny girl all through high school, but she had incredibly low self esteem. And now she's in the hospital for anorexia.

I personally think that if I had an overweight child (again, not a parent, so not speaking with experience), I would NOT put them on a real diet. I would not tell them they were on a diet or that they needed to lose weight or anything of the sort. I'd emphasize healthy eating. I'd have them help me plan meals to make sure we got all the food groups, take them grocery shopping and teach them how to read labels, show them portion sizes (2 tbsp of peanutbutter is about the size of a golfball, I'd ask them if they had a golfball or a tennisball of PB...stuff like that). I'd also encourage them to be active and make darn sure that I provided outlets for activity. It would never about "you're eating less because you're overweight" it would be "we all need to eat right and be active to live a healthy happy life."

Anyways, thoughts on the subject?
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:19 PM   #2
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This is a tough, tough issue as a parent!! It's such a delicate balancing act. In this very thread you're going to get people who say they wish their parents had done something when they were young and you're going to get people who were scarred from their parents doing just that. It's hard knowing which type of kid you're going to get.

With our little guy, we started focusing as a family on "eating healthy". We talk about healthy foods OFTEN. We talk about balance. He knows he's overweight. He doesn't need me to tell him that. He knows that his goal is to maintain his current weight while he grows. Focusing on a kid's weight is scary while they're growing. My son is a perfect example. A week ago, he weighed 108. Today he weighs 113. But he's lost 1/2 inch in his waist.

We have a pair of size 14 pants he would like to fit into. (Kids' sizes are weird...they're more appropriate to height than to weight. By height he should be in a 14, but he had grown out of even the 14 husky.) He's in them now, but not comfortably. He has maintained his 114 weight for six months which is pretty impressive for a growing boy.

He decided on his own that he wanted to start exercising so Dad started taking him out to do the C25K program together. Then my son decided he wanted to do push ups and sit ups. More power to him!

There are some kids who are just more sedentary by nature. Our son is a reader/thinker/gamer type. Likely that's not going to change as he ages. So we think it's important that he know NOW that exercise is going to have to be a part of his day for the rest of his life. "Playing" doesn't cut it for him. The kid doesn't play! And NEVER has!
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:24 PM   #3
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1) Okay, i totally understand what you're saying about NOT putting them on a diet. I have a friend who is about 7 months older than me and has a baby... She's been anorexic since she was 12, even before I personally knew her! She was anorexic all throughout her pregnancy even, and when she gave birth, we all thought he was going to die. If you already have a pretty average/skinny kid, be happy that their moving enough to keep the crappy food of today down.

2) Don't blame school food. Schools menus have changed a lot even since I just left last year. They have to follow the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Child and Adult Care Food Program. This means that menus can only have 2 sugar items a week, and each person served the right amount of grains, veggies, fruits and meats at EVERY meal. I know this is true because I work as a chef for a daycare and the regulations are STRICT.

3) I also understand on the other side of things, that yes, some children do need to be put on diets. Not hard core diets like some people these days are on, but they need to be regulated at home. When I was a kid, up until 5th grade I only weighed 62 pounds, close to 30 pounds underweight at that time. The doctors were worried that I was anorexic and sent me to a psychologist who then put me on medicine for my apparent ADD. Over the next year and 3 months, I gained close to 150 pounds due to this medicine that I recently found out is actually used to treat those with bipolar depression... it has Lithium in it, a component that they use to make anorexics gain weight. Although I wasn't anorexic, it worked on their part a little too well I guess. And ever since I've been stuck up here in the 200s.
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:30 PM   #4
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2) Don't blame school food. Schools menus have changed a lot even since I just left last year. They have to follow the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Child and Adult Care Food Program. This means that menus can only have 2 sugar items a week, and each person served the right amount of grains, veggies, fruits and meats at EVERY meal. I know this is true because I work as a chef for a daycare and the regulations are STRICT.
I disagree. It probably depends on where you live. I DO agree about the daycare though...ours was strict about what we PACKED.

But school lunches...suck. French toast and sausage? Nachos? (Chips are the grain, cheese is the dairy, taco meat is the protein.) Pizza? Chicken nuggets with macaroni and cheese? Yes, they're getting the prescribed requirements, but yikes. And sugar comes in the form of white crap too. And I hope they're including the milk as a "sugar item" because 99% of the kids choose the strawberry or chocolate.

Oh and breakfast! Glory be. I serve it to kids with severe disabilities three days a week. Samples:

Stuffed bagel, orange juice, cheese stick
Pastry, choc. milk, fruit cup
Cereal bar, choc. milk, orange juice
Animal crackers (????), choc. milk, fruit cup
Teddy grahams, choc milk, orange juice.

Notice each of the menus has a grain, a dairy and a fruit.

Crap, crap, crappity crap.
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mini goals: ~211-10% lost;12/24/09 ~203 class I obesity 1/28/10; ~199 Onederland/15% 2/19/10; ~188-20%; ~185 half way 5/14/10; 179-bye 180's 6/12/10; ~174 overweight 7/3/2010;169-bye 170's 8/13/10;~164-30% 10/23/2010159-bye 160's~11/1/10; 153-35%~12/23/10; 149-bye 150's~2/11/11; 145 normal~2/14/2011; ~141-40%; 139-bye 140's ~135 GOAL! (129-45%; 117.5-50%)






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Last edited by Eliana : 05-20-2010 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:30 PM   #5
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What a great thread!!!!!!!!

I am a parent. The doctor's have told me that my son is in the 90th percentile for his BMI since the minute he was born. (9lbs, 14oz.)

My son does have some extra on him. My personal stance on this is that I do not call attention to the extra weight that I know is on him. He's 6 by the way. He is bigger than some of the kids in his class, not all though. There are a couple of kids in his class that I am shocked to see how big they are.

The way I handle my son's extra lbs is that I enrolled him in swimming once a week, which he LOVES. I make sure that he has time to run around and play outside every night that is good weather for atleast 30-45 minutes. I have removed potato chips and junk food from our house (he now loves flavored rice cakes). I have even gone as far as to remove regular bread and we use whole grain sandwich rounds because they are only 100 calories instead of 2 pcs of bread for 160ish cals. We don't go out to eat at McD's and the like anymore. The place we go is Subway. I make sure to give him healthy balanced meals, etc.

I also had a great talk with my son about being healthy. It started with me telling him that we're not going to McD's anymore because that food has too many calories and if you eat too many calories and don't exercise, it will make you fat. So it sparked this amazing conversation with my son about what calories are and what it means to eat healthy. It was a great conversation!!!! I was amazed that I was having that conversation with a 6 yr old and that he GOT it. He actually suggests Subway when I mention McD's in a moment of weakness. HE actually keeps me on track at times! He is amazing.

So I guess what my very long winded point is that I don't say anything about his weight, but I actively take part in making sure that he is active and I feed him healthy, balanced meals. I was an overweight child, which lead to being an overweight adult and that is my worst nightmare for my son. I feel, that by doing the things I am doing and being an active part of it, he won't end up an overweight teen or adult.

Oh, and we always eat the same things in 1 version or another. I never feed him "lean meat and veggies" and then I eat "a burger and fries". Just want to throw that one out there.

I'm going to stop now. I could talk about childhood obesity and how scary it is ALL DAY LONG! I can't wait to see what more of you have to say!
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:35 PM   #6
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I also agree with Eliana's comment about school foods. My son's school counts french fries as a vegetable!!!!! I have his menu taped to the fridge and atleast 3 or 4 days a week, I make my son's lunch. I would rather that, than to have him eating the stuff they serve. Granted, his school offers a healthy choice daily such as a salad or lunch meat sandwich on wheat bread, but what kid is going to pick that over pepperoni pizza or chicken nuggets and fries? Just my opinion.
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:39 PM   #7
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I disagree. It probably depends on where you live. I DO agree about the daycare though...ours was strict about what we PACKED.

But school lunches...suck.
The USDA regulations don't change depending on location. You have to have 3 years menu's to show them when you are inspected by your state(which is a USDA inspector) and if you fail to have those items your institute will be fined close to $50,000.

For instance, heres our lunch for one day next week:
Milk
Apple sause
Pasta with broccoli
Turkey & Cheese bits on crackers.

To me, that sounds pretty damn healthy.
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:39 PM   #8
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I disagree. It probably depends on where you live. I DO agree about the daycare though...ours was strict about what we PACKED.

But school lunches...suck. French toast and sausage? Nachos? (Chips are the grain, cheese is the dairy, taco meat is the protein.) Pizza? Chicken nuggets with macaroni and cheese? Yes, they're getting the prescribed requirements, but yikes. And sugar comes in the form of white crap too. .
I was going to say the same thing. I am a teacher and while they do have regulations, it doesn't include how its cooked or what extra they put in it (at least it doesn't look that way) Today for example is chicken nuggets, dirty rice or beans, roll.. then something else.. maybe a veggie. Didn't look and see. They also have a snack line... with the options of chips, ice cream, boudain and canned lemonade or tea.

Back to the OPs question - I don't have kids yet.. but I will make a point to raise them knowing how to be healthy. My parents let us eat pretty much whatever and I was a chubby kid. I didn't know green beans out of a can weren't the best type of veggie. Full of sodium and additives.

But then there are parents that go to the extreme like someone else posted. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. I would teach them how to take care of themselves, so when they got older then it would be their decision.
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:41 PM   #9
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I also agree with Eliana's comment about school foods. My son's school counts french fries as a vegetable!!!!! I have his menu taped to the fridge and atleast 3 or 4 days a week, I make my son's lunch. I would rather that, than to have him eating the stuff they serve. Granted, his school offers a healthy choice daily such as a salad or lunch meat sandwich on wheat bread, but what kid is going to pick that over pepperoni pizza or chicken nuggets and fries? Just my opinion.
The parents should have the say. Not the child. I mean, that's why we were given parents. To direct us in the correct way!

When I was in elementary school, yes they had both choices but every week the parent had to check which they wanted their child to receive and sign it... Do schools not do this anymore?
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:44 PM   #10
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I was going to say the same thing. I am a teacher and while they do have regulations, it doesn't include how its cooked or what extra they put in it (at least it doesn't look that way) Today for example is chicken nuggets, dirty rice or beans, roll.. then something else.. maybe a veggie. Didn't look and see. They also have a snack line... with the options of chips, ice cream, boudain and canned lemonade or tea.
But you can't just group the school you teach at or another persons childs school together. Their not all the same, you have to remember that. And there is a PTA for a reason people!! My parents for one protested at my highschools PTA meetings for the fact that they were serving breaded foods 2 times a week. From then on out, they only served it differently. Like instead of breaded chicken, grilled chicken.

Take a stand, don't just blame people.
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:44 PM   #11
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Vixsin Your son sounds like one smart kiddo! I agree with your methods. I would never tell a child they need to lose weight. That is setting yoruself up for disaster.

Another example of one of the school lunches: Pizza, cheesy green beans, fruit cup and grahm (sp?) teddy bear
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:44 PM   #12
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Right, schools do NOT do that anymore. And schools get to decide what is a "grain" and what is a "diary" product. It's crap, I tell you! The menus I posted are no joke! The district I WORK in is far worse the than the district I live in.
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:46 PM   #13
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But you can't just group the school you teach at or another persons childs school together. Their not all the same, you have to remember that. And there is a PTA for a reason people!! My parents for one protested at my highschools PTA meetings for the fact that they were serving breaded foods 2 times a week. From then on out, they only served it differently. Like instead of breaded chicken, grilled chicken.

Take a stand, don't just blame people.
Awesome stance!! Really commendable. But the sad fact is, parents do NOT do this. The schools ARE feeding children crap and the parents allow it by not packing...and we have a problem with obesity in the nation. They appear linked to me.
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Old 05-20-2010, 01:47 PM   #14
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The word "diet" is a dangerous word to use around children, especially in the early teens..It sets them up for issues for the rest of their lives. Obsessions with weight loss or food dont just "happen". They are created. As parents, at least at home, we have control over what our children eat. If the junk is not there, the kids dont eat it. Of course, this can also lead to a backlash effect when they are at a party, or just a friends house, where maybe the choices are not so healthy. If you restrict too much, they go crazy when the bad stuff comes available to them.

It is a hard line to walk! Probably one of the hardest. If you restrict too much, they could likely rebel and go way overboard when out of your sight. If you dont restrict enough, then you are reinforcing bad habits.

God, one would think we would all be sick of the word moderation by this point, but really, thats what it all boils down to. Most anything is okay to have in moderation. If you totally forbid something, it becomes almost irresistible, especially to a child. As parents, we have to reinforce that moderation in our children..teach them when enough is enough, and hope that it sticks..and maybe (if they are older) tell them a little of our own problems with controlling our impulses and hope they can learn from our mistakes. Parenting is a rough road..but a wonderful one.

Oh..forgot to add. I too am shocked at what they call "lunch" at my kids school. I only have one still in public school, but when his lunch consists of a prepackaged "uncrustable", or even Hot pockets??? Really??? Hotpockets? OMG..that stuff is a heart attack on a plate! And yet, they insist that the school vending machines only have snack of 100 calories or less..for the record, this means that no fruit juices can be in the vending machines, because they break the 100 calorie rule. can you say, 'HUH??"

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Old 05-20-2010, 01:47 PM   #15
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Right, schools do NOT do that anymore. And schools get to decide what is a "grain" and what is a "diary" product. It's crap, I tell you! The menus I posted are no joke! The district I WORK in is far worse the than the district I live in.
Ever think it's because parents just sit aside and let them? Most parents now seem like their too busy to be active in their child's life, I'm not saying that is you, don't take this the wrong way please. But schools do what they can to cut corners to make it the fastest, easiest, cheapest way they possibly can. Take a stand, show them you're not okay with it and you can petition with other parents to get the menu's changed.
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