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For those who were "fat kids," what do you wish your parents would have done?

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Old 03-04-2011, 11:55 AM   #1
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Default For those who were "fat kids," what do you wish your parents would have done?

Long title, sorry...

This is something I've been pondering about for awhile. Trying to get to the root of my own food issues (comfort eating, boredom eating, binges), and there have also been a few threads I've been following about concerned parents wondering how to approach their kids with weight issues.

I was never really a "fat" kid, but I was always a big kid. I was 5'5 and 150lbs in 5th grade, I felt like an awkward giant. I was home alone and preparing my meals and snacks since I was 8 (single alcoholic mom...she was working or out drinking). I learned early on that food made me feel good and that mac n' cheese was yummy and easy to make. My mother, for all her shortcomings as a parent, never once made me feel bad about my weight intentionally. Sometimes she'd say I was a "big girl" or "God put your soul in a big beautiful package" and those euphemisms were pretty hurtful, even though they weren't meant to be. And she'd halfway encourage me to eat healthy foods and not eat so much junk. But no healthy foods were provided for me, and I had already learned that eating junk made me feel happy. My father also made the occasional "big girl" comments, but he'd spoil me with hot fudge sundaes and other goodies when I was with him for weekends.

I was a smart kid and I knew what healthy foods were, but I never had them available to me and never had somebody to guide me to make healthy choices or form healthy habits.

But when I think about it, I truly can't imagine what exact steps they could have taken that would have helped me develop a healthy self esteem and normal eating patterns even if I had ideal parents. I can't think of a way, no matter how sensitive, I would have wanted them to approach my weight without making me feel humiliated and incredibly resentful. I can't imagine how they would have set up a diet plan for me that wouldn't have made me develop some complex about dieting (but I suppose I kind of developed one anyways, lol).

I've been thinking about this, as I said, to help me get to the root of my own food issues. But also, I absolutely want to be a parent some day, and I desperately want my kids to have a healthy relationship with food. I know that I have an abnormal relationship with weight/food, and I don't want that to rub off on them. So I've been pondering waaaay down yonder into the future about how I'll deal with weight/self esteem/food with my future mini-Megans.

So I'd love to hear your thoughts For those of you who were overweight as children, what did your parents do about your weight issues? What helped you? What was the complete opposite of productive and helpful? What do you wish they would have done? For parents of overweight kids, what has your strategy been?
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Old 03-04-2011, 11:57 AM   #2
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When i was a kid i use to beg for cheeseburgers! I would whine and whine until I got it, which didnt take much for my daddy lol. Looking back I wish he would have just said no and let me be mad. Ugh!!!! I dont even like burgers like that anymore lol.
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Old 03-04-2011, 12:03 PM   #3
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I think I would want to lead by example. My dad and sister were naturally skinny, my mom resorted to starvation diets.. so my parents would criticize me but not know how to help. I secretly binged in my room because I was so ashamed to eat in front of my parents.

I wouldn't make the overweight child stand out. I would encourage the entire family to do active things together, prepare meals, allow desserts in moderation.

Part of my journey has been forgiving my parents though. I know they love me but just didn't know what to do. All in all, I'm petrified of being a parent because I know my parents love me and would do anything for me. I was an angry teenager who blamed others for my own mistakes. I would make excuses for my own insecurities instead of being proactive.
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Old 03-04-2011, 12:06 PM   #4
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I've seen both ends of the spectrum. Parents that don't allow their kids any junk. Most of those kids gorge on junk food when at others houses. Then there's the kids who don't have healthy options available at home and are given whatever they want. I've seen both of these have positive and negative consequences. It depends on the person. Look at siblings in the same living situation. Everyone reacts differently.
My parents always had veggies, however they were the starchy veggies. When I have kids it's going to be a balance, the treats will be there in small amounts, but they have to at least try the healthy options.
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Old 03-04-2011, 12:10 PM   #5
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I can't really say much that I wish my parents would have done honestly. I was chubby as a kid but knowing that I have PCOS now I know it was because my parents did give me a lot more carbs than I should have had, but the food was healthy in general. White rice was a big staple in my house whereas now I don't eat it- when my mom visits I have to buy white rice for her lol.

I mean if my doctors didn't even know what I had then I sure as heck can't put anything on my parents to have done- I just wish I had known more about my condition before I got as big as I did!
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Old 03-04-2011, 12:34 PM   #6
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I said it in the other thread too, but I just wished someone had told me that "You may WANT to feel stuffed, but you need to stop eating when you're not hungry anymore." I wish I'd known what to aim for. It wouldn't have stopped me completely, but it would have made me more aware of what was "normal." I knew eating a lot was bad but I didn't know why except that it just made you fat.

I don't blame them for how I turned out though. It really wasn't their fault. They didn't know. They never had eating issues like I do and are naturally thin, and my brother is rail skinny. My parents really did want me to be happy and have high self esteem, they just didn't know how exactly how to help. *shrug*
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Old 03-04-2011, 12:43 PM   #7
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Sorry to hear about your mother's struggle with alcohol. There are a lot of alcoholics on both sides of my family. From what I remember I have always been big. My family never really taught healthy habits. I used to blame them so much, ut that's only one reason I've became big. Now I know that they themselves do not know how to be healthy and how to reteach themselves. My mom, for instance, hides food. She's been doing it for years. When I watched one episode of Heavy, one participant hid food and was a food addict. Like you, i think about having kids and raising them to be healthy and not feeling like I had felt. We learn from seeing more than hearing our parents telling us to eat healthy.
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Old 03-04-2011, 12:44 PM   #8
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I wish my mother had been more open, so I would have felt comfortable to tell her that my periods were very irregular. We probably could have identified my PCOS at a much earlier age.
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Old 03-04-2011, 12:48 PM   #9
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The only thing that would have made a big difference regarding my weight and confidence level would have been if I was put into sports.

That's definately what I will be doing different when I'm a parent.
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Old 03-04-2011, 01:00 PM   #10
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Great thread!

I was an overweight kid. I wish my parents were more educated on the subjects of health and wellness. I wish many things could have been done differently. I wish we had done more active activities as a family. I wish we didn't have nearly as much junk in the house as we did. I wish my parents didnt push the whole "clean your plate or no dessert" mentality. Honestly, the list can go on and on.

One of the things I have learned on my journey, like another poster said, I've had to forgive my parents. They didn't know nearly the information that we all know now about food and it's dangers.

As a parent, I feel the most important thing I can do for my son is to live by example. We talk about calories. We talk about why McDonald's isn't good for you if you eat it all the time. I allow him to have sweets and he gets dessert if he finishes his veggies at supper. The food choices in my house are very different than they were when I was growing up. The desserts we have are a wide range of things for us: 90 cal granola bar, 100 cal snack bag, 100 cal serving of mini marshmallows, 70 cal go-gurt. I have healthier options for my son so that if he wants dessert, I don't feel guilty. I also allow him to have fast food and full-on sweet treats but those things are few and far between. They are regarded as special occassions and treated that way. Honestly, he gets plenty of junk-ish things at his friends house or my parents house, or around the holidays at school. I feel ok if I don't have that stuff in my house because he can get it from many other sources. I also try to keep my son as active as I can from the after school program he is in to the things we do on the weekends. I have never and will never put him on a scale or say anything deragatory about his weight. It ruined me as a child, and I don't want him to have those feelings of inadequacy like I did.

This actually is reminding me of something that happened with him the other day. (My Maxwell is 7... going on 42!) He came up and gave me a hug and said that I was getting really skinny and he patted his own belly and said he was fat. After we went back and forth of me saying he wasn't and him insisting that he is, I told him that it will never be about being "fat" or "skinny" it will always and ONLY be about being "healthy" or "unhealthy" and I told him to relax because he is very, very healthy. I was amazed at it because that is a conversation that I have never had with my parents. My son makes me very proud to be on this journey. Just for conversations like that one. He is SO smart and I love it that we can have a conversation about this kind of stuff. My son is, literally, an EXACT replica of me. I can see it in his actions, mannerisms, attitude, outlook...everything. Therefore, I feel that he could be just like me when it comes to food. I'm laying different groundwork than my parents did, they weren't overly loving. I tell Maxwell that I love him at LEAST 4 or 5 times a day. Just because it makes us both feel good. He does the same thing to me.

I guess it all boils down to learning from your parents and tweaking things a little to make them your own.

Thanks again for the great thread!
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Old 03-04-2011, 01:07 PM   #11
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Really the only thing I think they could've done better (but in hindsight- how were they supposed to really know??) was to address my PCOS. To them, a healthy diet was one high in carbs (low fat), which is sort of the exact opposite of what diet I should be on.

Other than that, I was always in sports and activities, but I loved to eat and there's not a whole heck of a lot you can do to prevent a kid from eating once they figure out how to get it themselves.

I do have to thank them, my father in particular, for instilling healthy habits that I was able to utilize in my early 20's when I was ready to do it on my own. I already had a well paved foundation by that time
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Old 03-04-2011, 01:14 PM   #12
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I was the only chubby kid in the family. My mother and her mother constantly berated me for being too fat. I was told that I was so fat that no boy would want to date me, that no boss would want to hire me, that I was essentially worthless. It destroyed my self esteem. I look at photos of me from high school, and see that I was only about 20 lbs overweight and not that huge - but I didn't realize it then...I just hated myself and my life. My father says that he saw that my self esteem was being destroyed, but he didn't know what to do so he stayed out of it (my mother was a very dominating person in those days!) Anyway - I'm still struggling with self esteem issues at age 57 - but I'm much better now. I would never single out a child and humiliate them. People come in all sizes. All children should know that they are loved and worthy of love. I would limit sweets/ junk food and make sure healthy choices were available. I would encourage being active. The child will make his/her own decisions about being healthy if you provide a good example, and if you make sure he/she knows that he/she is valued and loved no matter what he/she looks like.
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Old 03-04-2011, 01:16 PM   #13
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I was a heavy kid but there isn't a thing in the world they could have done better. I was given tasty, heathly food and lots of activity. I just overate. I was educated about health and physiology, my mom was easy to talk to, etc etc.

There's a reason I didn't lose weight until this single adult attempt - I had to be ready to put into action the things in my head. Until that point, nothing was much help and I had every resource at my disposal.
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:02 PM   #14
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I wish my biological father would have let me cry when i was sad instead of taking me to the candy store to buy me a bunch of candy to make me happy(his motto was "we dont need to cry, we need to be happy") I wish my biological father would have not taken me to MCdonalds to eat lunch every saturday afternoon for 7 years when he had me that one day of the week.

I wish my step-father and mother would have taken my plate away at the dinner table instead of making me sit there and till i finished everything on my plate even though i was so full i thought i would puke.

In my personal opinion. i believe that one of my causes of over-eating was simply that i was overfed as a child and that my parents would make me eat everything off my plate instead of just letting my body say "your full end of meal"..
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Old 03-04-2011, 02:11 PM   #15
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my daughter is nearly 10, she is reaching puberty so her body is changing, shes getting hips and is wearing trainer bras. when i was a kid i couldnt talk to my mum about anything so i make sure im very open with my daughter, we discuss health but not weight. my fridge is full of fruit and low fat yogurt etc, and i dont keep much junk in the house. we have already discussed periods without it being a big deal, i started mine early so ive made sure she knows about them. when i was a kid i didnt have to ask if i wanted something to eat (which was always junk) so i made a rule she has to ask if she wants something unhealthy. i also bought her a wii and play it with her, which makes her more likely to use it. i encouraged her to join running club at school but she didnt like it, so switched to dancing, so far shes sticking at it. i dont want to force her into a club she doesnt enjoy, so when she decides she doesnt like it i try to find another for her to have a go at.
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