Hello Korio
19. 10. 2015

Oh ho ho, see what I did there with the title? You don’t yet, but you will in a second, and you’ll understand why I hate myself.

If you follow me on Twitter or you followed my old blog, you know I’ve been on a diet for a while. It’s been pretty successful. I don’t really want to get into the hows and whys of the success, because, I don’t know, it was just a combination of health stuff and just hitting the point of ready to be on a diet. Kind of like quitting smoking. I halfheartedly tried to do it a bunch of times, but one day I was just actually ready to do it, so I did. So now I’m a non-smoker (6 years now!) and I have also lost 40 lbs over the last 6 months.

I haven’t found it difficult to lose the weight – that is, the diet that finally clicked for me isn’t one I find super challenging and it doesn’t make me sad. I don’t feel starved or deprived and I’m generally doing all right with it. It’s called keto, and there’s tons of information out there if you’re interested, but basically it’s super low carb, which automatically means it’s not for everyone. I absolutely do not think extreme low carb is sustainable for everyone or even most people. For me, though, just a week or two into it made it very clear how my body deals with carbs: poorly and in huge amounts. It’s worked well for me, and that’s that.

So here’s the thing. I have a kid, right, like a ton of you do. And I’m conscious about her health. I’m aware of the childhood obesity crisis. I’m also aware of how fraught weight issues can be for young adults and adult adults and how much of that can start from what you see and hear when you’re younger. I’m not concerned about Penny’s actual weight number right now – she’s a healthy weight for her age and size, she’s super active, gets plenty of running around every day along with organized physical activity. She eats a standard four year old diet – not exactly what a nutritionist would assert is necessary, but it’s not entirely candy and air. She’s got good eating habits, too. She stops when she’s full, no matter what she’s eating, and drinks plenty of water throughout the day. As far as feeding her goes, I’d say we’re doing solidly average as parents.

For a long time, I was really careful not to say the word “diet” around her. I don’t think it’s wrong for her to know I’m on a diet to lose weight, but she doesn’t see my body as anything but her mother’s body, so I didn’t know quite how to frame “mine isn’t okay but don’t worry about yours and if yours ever looks like mine it’s not anything to feel bad about except maybe you might want to lose weight because my body is not an exactly ideal situation but whatever happens you are still an absolutely fine person with no moral failings related to food because that is not actually a thing even though I kind of feel like it’s a thing for me but you’re a blank slate on this front so let’s not put ideas in your head.” Basically, overthinking it entirely to the point where I just said nothing.

She is a nice kid, so she offers to share her food a lot. “Look, Mama, I have two M&Ms, one for me and one for you.” And I’d say, “Oh, no thank you, I’m not hungry right now, but that’s nice of you.” Or she’d say, “Mama, look, Daddy got pizza for all of us, come have some with me,” and I’d say, “I don’t feel like eating pizza right now, I’m going to have this chicken.” And I’m fine with the chicken, I really am. My lack of pizza is not the issue. Sometimes I’d say I don’t like this food or that food, or I don’t feel like eating right now, or that I try not to eat when I’m not hungry but maybe later.

I think, though, at some point, Phil told her “Mama isn’t going to eat that because she’s on a diet.” Or she heard me say something to him, or something like that. Now she has questions. Not super deep ones or anything. Just like, “We’re having pizza, are you having some?” No, I’m not going to have pizza. “Is it because you’re on a diet?” I just don’t… I don’t want pizza. “Do you like pizza when you’re not on a diet?” No — I mean, yes — I mean, I DON’T KNOW.

KERMIT

STOP ASKING ME ABOUT PIZZA.

She said something the other night like, “I don’t have to be on a diet like you because I’m a healthy girl.” And I said something stupid, probably, and half-stuttered in response like, “Right, you’re very healthy, and I want my body to be healthy, too.”

The thing is, I know it’s my responsibility to teach her about making healthy choices and all of that, but the whole thing is so fraught with kids. I mean, they don’t know it’s so fraught, yet, but I do, and it’s been on my mind a lot. It’s very possible – very likely even – that I’m entirely over thinking this. And I think part of my issue has to do with the fact that my diet is so extreme. I don’t know when I’m supposed to start talking to her about maintaining a healthy, active body. I don’t exactly know how to do that in a way that doesn’t place a value on weight, or in a way that won’t make my words stick in her head if she does put on some pounds through puberty or as an adult. I know a lot of us can remember the exact words and phrases and expressions of our own mothers in these situations, and even knowing full well it wasn’t meant to be something mean or that stuck in your head forever, you still hear the exact tone and inflection whenever something to do with your own body comes up.

It’s especially difficult because if I talk about my diet with her, I want it tied strictly to health, because justifiably or not, I am totally all right with myself otherwise, as a person and as a parent (well, you know, as much as you can be all right with yourself as a parent) and all kinds of other things. I am basically my favorite person. So in talking about what I eat for my health, I run into the particular problem of my diet – just about everything I turn down or don’t eat or say “no, thank you” to is stuff she enjoys the hell out of. It would be one thing if it was cookies and cake and ice cream, and I could say to her that I’m just not having those once in a while treats that you have. But it’s bread and potatoes and corn and pizza and bananas and tons of stuff that she loves to eat and there’s no problem at all with her eating them. I don’t want her to think her favorite foods are something negative she should avoid if she wants to be healthy. And that’s not even really getting into the whole thing about talking to a four year old about weight in a way that doesn’t give her a negative self-image or a negative attitude toward weight in general.

I said this isn’t a heavy post up there because I don’t think it has to be. I think if this is on my mind, plenty of parents are running into the same issue or have run into it and dealt with it before. I don’t really know if there are any answers that work for every situation and every kid, and it’s more something you have to come to on your own, so really this was just a pointless meandering ramble like most of the stuff I put here, but my own pointlessness aside, I’d kind of just like to know if this is something that’s come up in your home now or in the past, how you’re dealing with it, or generally just what you think about the whole issue of raising healthy kids, both physically and mentally, when food and diet issues are alive in the household. Even if it’s this same kind of rambling baloney about your own ideas or situation. It’s been on my mind a lot lately, and I just feel like talking about it.

42 responses to “Not necessarily a heavy post.”

  1. Kara says:

    Food issues and body issues- I have so many. On top of that, I have daughters. Over the past two years, I’ve lost 60 pounds- mostly changing my eating habits drastically, a minor bit of increased activity. Some of the diet changes were family wide, others were me specific. As a family, we don’t have carb heavy dinners any more. It just doesn’t happen if I’m cooking. As an individual- I don’t eat bread, potatoes or anything that’s really carb-loaded on a regular basis. I can’t. So no sandwiches for me, but the kids have sandwiches for lunch every day. As a family, we have a lot more vegetables with dinner than we did in the past. A big thing that I need to work on is not forcing my kids to eat, just because it’s meal time. They may not be hungry when I am, so I can’t force them to follow my schedule. Or force them to eat certain portions of something- they have the autonomy to decide what’s the right amount of something. And as long as the decisions aren’t ridiculous (a jar of Nutella is not a good meal choice), I need to let them make them.

    • korio says:

      I am trying really hard to reframe my ideas about meal time and how much of what she should eat and when. I feel like getting too crazed around that area is where a lot of issues can stem from, but at the same time, no matter how much you remind yourself they won’t starve, and everything is going to be fine, keeping kids fed is one of the most basic parenting things you’ve got to do and it is STRESSFUL AS HELL when they – the little ones especially – want to go their own way. It’s hard to not lay down strict and fast rules about what has to be eaten and how much, even knowing that down that path lies disaster and insanity.

  2. -Jen says:

    My kiddo (6, boy) asked how many calories were in something about a year ago. I was floored. I later found out that a woman at his daycare was talking about her diet. I was not prepared to talk about calories with my kid. So, I feel you on this topic. We’ve landed in a place (since he still often brings it up) of talking about calories as fuel. It’s not great, but it works for him. We talk about the things he gets as treats have more calories, so he can run more and such things.

    • korio says:

      I know everyone says kids hear everything but they really HEAR EVERYTHING. And then they turn it over in their own minds for awhile before you even find out they’re processing something kind of big. It reminds me how not only do I need to be hyper aware of the way I talk around her about stuff like this, but also have to regularly kind of check in with her so see what kind of stuff she might have picked up somewhere else. We’re only going to be the biggest influence for so long, eventually they’ll be hearing stuff from other kids and it will carry more weight from peers. It seems like there’s so much to get across before that time.

    • Jenny says:

      I ran into a scenario like this with make-up and a self-image conversation I wasn’t prepared to have with my 3 year old daughter. She grabbed a compact and pretended to put on make-up while complaining about how red her face was. I learned it stemmed from her daycare teacher frequently fixing her make-up, apparently. I have nothing against make-up; I use it and enjoy it. I was a little upset my daughter was finding pretend faults with her image at such a young age.

  3. Haclyn says:

    There are so many issues like this I find cropping up as Jules gets older. I don’t want to give her certain ideas or feelings but I don’t know how to talk about them neutrally all the time, either. Stupid parenting and the lack of instruction manuels.
    As for how to talk about your specific diet – I remember you mentioning that it is in part to help with other health problems you were having. Could you explain it from that angle to Penny? “You know how Mom doesn’t feel well sometimes? Well I’m not eating some things because it helps my body feel better, but you don’t have what I do so you can still eat them!” Adding in details depending on the actual specifics of the situation.

    • Cherie says:

      I think this is the winning angle. It’s not about the food, it’s about how it makes your body feel.

      Does she have any friends with food allergies? Because my kids do and they seem to get that line of argument pretty easily. So you could just say, “Thank you, but that’s one of those foods that my body doesn’t really like, kind of like an allergy. I hope you enjoy it, though!”

      • korio says:

        I don’t know why I didn’t think of it, but she HERSELF has many food sensitivities and issues with digestion. She knows she can’t eat certain foods, and when she feels bad, she knows it was something she ate. I think it’ll be fairly easy to tell her I’m trying to make sure my own body feels good the same way we do for her.

    • korio says:

      I HATE TALKING NEUTRALLY ABOUT THINGS I HATE. Especially with things where I know I need to teach her the “right” thing but she’s eventually going to know the reality anyway. You know, like a situation where a kid is being a shit to her and other kids on a playground or something. I tell her, “Well, that wasn’t a nice thing for him to do, but still, we should be nice to him and maybe he’ll play nicely, too.” When I really want to say, PENNY, SOME PEOPLE ARE SHITTY AND YOU NEED TO JUST STAY AWAY.

      • Jaclyn says:

        ugggggh WORST. A big one for us is when kids are blatantly acting like a maniac or doing something we tell her she can’t do and she gets all “BUT S/HE’S DOING IT!” But the kid’s parent is right there not giving a shit so I have to be all diplomatic about completely insane behaviour. Running around in restaurants was the most recent one. Sorry, bud, that kid’s family has different rules than ours. But you still can’t run around like a wild animal.

  4. Natalie says:

    My daughter is only 2 but this weighs on my mind as well. It seems like in your situation, you could frame it as “what makes one person’s body feel great and work right, isn’t necessarily the same for the next person”. This could maybe also be useful for helping her learn not to overeat stuff she loves (like, see how that makes you feel, not good) and learn what DOES make her feel great physically.

    And that’s all totally true. I can’t have too much sugar for breakfast, but my kid can eat waffles and applesauce and apparently be fine. My husband completely does NOT correlate what food makes him feel bad physically, he has an extremely emotional relationship with food. This is what makes it difficult for me, I like stuff but I don’t have anything I couldn’t give up. If it makes me feel bad physically (I’m looking at you, Chinese food and Sonic cheeseburgers) I don’t eat it. When I was nursing exclusively, fast food made her gassy. I gave it up. No big.

    I guess I fell into the “ramble” category. This is all to say, I think you can handle this with P. Everybody has food issues, it’s just kind of inevitable. But I think you can make them a little less for her, because you are very aware.

    • korio says:

      My husband’s body has such SPECIFIC reactions to certain foods, and until I stopped eating carbs, I never made ANY similar connections for myself. It amazed me that he knew such exact things about the foods he ate, but I think it just showed I really wasn’t paying any attention at ALL to how I felt with regard to food. Just, you know, eating what I liked when I liked and enjoying it. Changing this one [big] thing has made the (probably obvious) connections between what I eat and how I feel much more clear, so I think you’re right – it does make it at easy way to explain to her. A couple of years ago or even earlier this year, I don’t think I could have said the same.

      • Natalie says:

        I honestly feel like I missed out on a lot of that stuff from my parents, generally – like people will say “broccoli gives you gas” or “cheese blocks you up” as if everybody knows this, and for a long time I was like … It does? How do people know this stuff? I only learned my particular reactions after a lot of trial and error, and a lot of that knowledge has become more clear only through research, after having my kid.

  5. Lawyerish says:

    MAN, how fraught this stuff is. I’m going to go ahead and ramble, since you invited us to do so. And maybe I’ll just do a blog post about this, too, because I have MUCH TO SAY.

    In short (relatively speaking), I try not to make comments about bodies (my own or anyone else’s) around Felicity. For years, I didn’t say the word “fat” even if it was in a book, but now she can read so she calls me on it if I skip any words. I want her to not have a judgmental/negative feeling about any particular body size/shape, and I reinforce constantly the idea that everyone is perfectly made just as they are. But then in preschool last year, someone used the word “fat” as an insult, and that kind of blew up a lot of my careful efforts.

    And then there is the health/eating issue, which is snarly as well. F is a good eater with a balanced diet, generally. She loves sweets but she will eat one jelly bean and call that her one treat for the day. She’ll stop mid-cookie if she gets full. But she relentlessly negotiates for treats, which is exhausting, and I think all the time about whether I’m being too restrictive or too permissive about sweets, and whether I’m making them into something she’ll one day binge on or what.

    Anyway, even in her constant pursuit of candy, she acknowledges that we need variety in our diets and she is learning how to listen to her own body on fullness cues and how she feels after eating X vs Y. She takes pride in eating all of the (very healthy/balanced) lunches at school. I don’t think she has made a connection between food and weight/body size, but it’s only a matter of time.

    A couple of times last spring, she asked whether something had “a lot of fat in it” and I was like, WHUT. It was something she’d overheard from someone other than me, and she hasn’t mentioned it since, but at the time I was like, NOOOOOOO, she’s only five! But kids have these passing interests in things and then they move on, and it’s very easy for us to throw our own baggage onto things that they ask about purely innocently, so when she says or asks something about these subjects, I try to take a breath and look at it neutrally, rather than being all OMG SHE IS GOING TO HAVE AN EATING DISORDER LET’S BURN EVERYTHING DOWN.

    And in the meantime, I try to show her that I enjoy whatever I am eating (and that I enjoy running — she sees my coming/going from runs and we talk about how it makes my body feel good, with no discussion about body appearance), so whether or not she notices what/how much I’m eating, she can see that food is something to be enjoyed in life, rather than fretted over. So like with your diet, I think it’s awesome that you actually LIKE what you’re eating and it isn’t a source of tension/misery in the house — you’re not like sobbing into your kale because everyone else is having pizza, you know?

    So I don’t know. I have no answers. This stuff is hard, man.

    • korio says:

      One, you should do a post about it, because I am really into the whole thought process on this whole topic and the different ways people have of approaching it. Two, PENNY TOO WITH THE CONSTANT ASKING FOR TREATS. She can’t even hold that many treats! Why does she always want them! But then I end up questioning myself – am I telling her no for a reason? Am I foisting my concerns about X, Y, or Z onto her and is that why I won’t let her have a mini Twix? Is a mini Twix REALLY that big of a deal? I am giving MYSELF a complex trying to avoid giving HER a complex.

      • Lawyerish says:

        Ok, I wrote a post about it! It’s very long and kind of pointless, but I appreciate the chance to ramble about this because I think about it a lot, too.

        So maybe you could just give me writing assignments and I’ll do them and then suddenly we’ll be all like back to old-school blogging again!

  6. Phancy says:

    Oh I think about this so much, with an5 and 2 year old daughter. The preferred diet for my body is one without bread, sugar, cheese or alcohol. I just feel leaps and bounds better. And it’s the only way I can lose weight, which face it, I’d like to lose some so that I can fit in my old clothes instead of buying a new winter wardrobe at this current size. This current size is actually a new one for me, but it isn’t new in that it is the biggest, I just apparently have skipped this size so I own too big and too small clothes and I would prefer to fit in the smaller ones but I am totally off topic. So far when I try a diet like that I end up not being able to stick to it because of kid sharing or someone sharing or something. (Which probably really means I’m not ready ready, but again, off topic here.). What I have done is to say something along the lines of “my body doesn’t feel as good when I eat that food, so it isn’t part of my diet.” And explain that a diet is what you eat, whatever it is you eat, and not a calorie restriction I want to lose weight and am unhappy with my body.

    I don’t know, the whole things seems fraught with so many pitfalls. I’ll do one thing perfect and then a side effect totally backfires. Sigh.

    • korio says:

      I think you’ve hit on a really good way to explain it, and one I’m going to use if she seems interested in talking about it. I think it will work well for her, because she has several digestive issues and is always interested in what she ate that made her feel bad. It should be an angle she can get and one I can explain in fairly basic terms for now.

  7. Charleen says:

    UGH!!!

    This is something I have been worried about for a long time, way before I ever had kids. And now I have one (6 months) and on the one hand I feel like it won’t be as big an issue because he’s a boy, but on the other hand, guys can have body image issues too, so I don’t want to fall into the “don’t have to worry about it because I don’t have a daughter” trap either.

    And who knows, I might still have a daughter. But whether I do or don’t, it’s still something I need to address.

    I just want any and all of my present and potential future children to be healthy and comfortable. And because of my own food issues and body issues (which are two completely separate sets of issues, despite the fact that they’re related) I just DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO THAT! Healthy eating is something I need to put so much effort into, but it shouldn’t be, and I don’t want it to be for him, so how do I present it as something that’s important but also totally normal?

    So yeah, no answers here. But thanks for giving us all an opportunity to ramble together.

    And congrats on losing 40 lbs! (Or should I say, congrats on adjusting your lifestyle in such a way that you feel so much better, both in your body and about your body? Ugh. No, I probably shouldn’t say that. I’ll just say congrats on losing the weight, and we can just both agree that I’m not saying there was anything wrong with how much you weighed before.)

    • korio says:

      Food issues. I can barely sort out my own, let alone try to figure out what kinds might manifest in Penelope and how to cut them off at the pass. Ideally, of course, I want her to have no issues with food. But… I want her to enjoy food. I want her to understand that it’s fuel and morally neutral, but I don’t want her to feel entirely joyless about it. Above all, I want to be able to communicate this all without making it a THING, because I feel like if she senses it’s a THING, it will become a THING. You know? I said thing too much.

  8. kristin says:

    1. Are you sure Phil didn’t title this post?

    2. When I had to go gluten-free, I explained it to my littles like “I worked with the doctor and found out certain foods aren’t good for my body, so I’m choosing not to eat them any more. But it’s just for MY body – YOUR bodies are different and you don’t need to worry about it!” etc.

    3. Funny timing. I have a post coming out about how to frame this dialog now that I have an older daughter. She’s almost 13, so way more savvy at picking up subtext, is surrounded by body talk at school, so… how do I update the conversation and be more honest about things like body image issues, maintaining a healthy diet, how those things are sometimes linked, etc.

    • korio says:

      1. He can’t remember the URL to this blog, so he’ll never be able to lord my shame over me.
      2. I think that is a good angle, especially because Penny can probably easily understand it with her own food issues.
      3. I don’t want to think about the teen years with regard to this issue yet. It seems entirely too overwhelming. And I know it will come regardless and it will probably be fine, but just in case, write down everything you say and do and how it works out so I can cheat off you later.

  9. Tamara says:

    I feel like as the mom of boys I also have to be very careful about the way I talk about my body, because as a kid hearing boys talk about bodies in a negative way made me feel even worse than when girls did. It’s so crazy how parenting has made me a better person when it comes to self talk and talking about others. (But it’s certainly hard given Manny is so adorably fat!) I just want to teach them to like people based on how they act not what they look like and that includes everything from race to body size to perceived wealth/lack of wealth.

    • korio says:

      I feel like all kids – boys included – really quickly learn what a sore spot physical appearance and body shape can be for other people and it becomes such an easy way to lash out at each other. It STILL bums me out to hear adult men speak about women’s bodies sometimes. Like, is that what they REALLY think? For real? And of course thinking of your own boys being the ones hurting feelings with casual comments someday sucks. It’s just… a lot of stuff to impart so carefully.

    • Charleen says:

      OMG, I was totally worried about passing my own food/body issues onto my son in regards to his self image that I didn’t even THINK that everything I say and do is also influencing how he will see and treat other people!

      It turns out I can’t handle this parenting thing. Is six months past the return policy, do you think?

  10. Rebecca says:

    I’ve battled eating disorders, compulsive exercising, the works-so I’m freaked out that anything I say will badly influence my kids. What I’ve tried to emphasize is a well-rounded diet, i.e “those doughnuts are yummy, but let’s make sure we have fresh stuff at our next meal so our body gets the right type of fuel”. Time will tell if that works. And I also really liked going low-carb, although optimum intake for me is around 150, so it’s not “low”.

    • korio says:

      “Time will tell if that works.” Doesn’t that infuriatingly sum up everything about parenting? I have a choice of parenting method X, Y, or Z for a given situation. I make a choice. Now we just wait 30 years to see if any lasting damage comes out in therapy.

  11. Carrie says:

    I dont have too much to say except two items:

    1. I am 35 and finally got the courage to ask my mom to not call herself fat in front of me.

    2. Still remember the time by best friend in high school came home and got so excited because she thought she found chocolate in her house and was never ever allowed sweets. She ate it all. Turned out it was her mom’s calcium chews.

    • korio says:

      It took me a long time to tell my mom not to try to discuss my weight with me anymore. We don’t see each other often and for the last, I don’t know, 10 years or more, every time she saw me, she’d say, “Oh, you look like you’ve lost weight.” First thing. Within minutes of seeing me. Whether I had or not. It just started to get under my skin – in a way I’m sure she never meant but after a lifetime of other not meant but still kind of niggling things. I knew she was giving me a compliment, as far as she was concerned. But if the “nice thing” you think to say to me every single time you see me is that I look thinner, it really shows where values lie, and since I wasn’t and am still NOT thin, well. I’m sure you can follow the path of logic from there. And it’s one of those things, like asking your mother not to say anything about her own weight, that is so difficult with certain people, who will be so quick to say they don’t mean anything AGAINST you, or about YOUR body, and you’re taking it the wrong way, and kind of lightly pressure you to not be so sensitive and just continue dealing with it since it’s not MEANT to make you feel sad/bad/anything at all, and I totally get the whole working up to saying something just because of the whole THING that saying something can become.

      • Brooke says:

        I don’t remember what the exact comment was, but my mom linked my weight to disappointment. She and my sister always talk about food and one-up each other (and me) about healthy choices (like if I had an egg white spinach omelet, my mom had that AND CHIA SEEDS) and I finally learned that my mom is not a safe person to talk about those things with. It sucks, but part of doing the best things for your health is something cutting bad foods and bad thoughts/feelings/conversations.

  12. Brooke says:

    I think/hope that the fact that you’re conscious of the language you use with Penny means that you’ll be more successful in avoiding the very situation and issues you’re hoping to. Also, I think our generation has acted against body prejudice more than the generation that raised us. We’ve fought for models and idols who represent realistic and diverse bodies. I sincerely hope that my friends who are raising girls have it a little easier with more positive body talk as part of their culture.

    I went from being super skinny as a teen (eat a sandwich!) to overweight (do you need that sandwich?) and feel that I’ve felt some of the pressure on both sides. No matter what, though, I know that people of all sizes have insecurities – none of us are immune – and using positive body language and a focus on fueling a healthy body is the best way to go.

    Basically, I think the fact that you’re conscious of this is a solid start. The end.

  13. Jenny says:

    From your quotes, Penny sounds like a wonderfully loving, sharing kid.

  14. Jessica says:

    Do you think our generation is the first to really internalize not body-shaming in front of our kids? Because it seems like we basically have it down – my kids have NO IDEA my body size is a thing. A thing I spend way too much time thinking about. (Am I ok with it? Am I not? If I am, but my pants don’t fit anymore, do I have to try to make myself not ok enough to get back in them?)

    But my mom…I wouldn’t say she has body issues, she just wishes she was slimmer for a multitude of reasons. And talks about it appropriately with her grown daughter (me) who is mature enough to have that conversation. What kills me, though, is she always starts these conversations in front of my kids. Even if we’re not talking TO them, they have ears. They’ll pick up on it. I want to shout MOM, MY KIDS DON’T KNOW I’M FAT. DON’T TELL THEM.

  15. Carla Hinkle says:

    You know what makes this topic even MORE fraught? I have two daughters (currently 11 and 8.5) who have two COMPLETELY DIFFERENT body types & interests/attitudes towards food.

    Daughter A fluctuates between the 65th and 85th % weight depending on growth spurts (she’s about 40% height). Daughter A loves food, especially sweets & carbs. She likes sports but is also a big reader and can sit still for long periods of time. She is a foodie and loves to cook–she finds recipes to make on the weekends. Her body noticeably responds to exercise — you can see her slim down or chunk up depending on if her sport is in season, if she has PE, etc. Daughter A is NOT obese (I think she’s perfectly healthy, actually) but she is usually one of the bigger girls in her class.

    Daughter B is 15% height/weight. She’s TINY. She has a ridiculous metabolism and is in constant motion. She prefers to eat fruit & meat. If she didn’t have a very high energy level & keep growing steadily, I’d worry about her being underweight. She is not super into food, even sweets/pizza/etc.

    So it feels like with two such different daughters I have to walk a tight rope all the time. I love that Daughter A likes to cook and is a foodie–just like me! But she also does better with a lot of exercise & sometimes needs to be reminded of that because she’d rather read a book (also like me). Daughter B could really eat whatever, but her “whatever” is super healthy & she moves so much she could probably eat pizza and ice cream three times a day and stay the same. Which she would never do. But she could. (You catch my drift.)

    I try to keep the language very neutral, obviously. Daughter A is a great, healthy kid, as is Daughter B, they live in the same house and look very different. Which is OK. I just want everyone to keep feeling it is OK.

    I don’t know. When I see how different my two kids are, with the same parents, it makes me think a person’s size is somewhat out of our control. I mean, it’s not, but it is, you know?

    • phancy says:

      It literally just occurred to me that what if my daughters end up like this too? I have two, and so far they are 2 and 5, and both right average for height weight. But my mom and her sister were like your two. Not to mention their body types are so different (long vs short waisted, broad vs narrow shoulders, long vs round face) that if they were canines we would have them as different breeds, I swear.

      • phancy says:

        By “like your two” I just meant that they were differing body types, not that they were different in the same way as yours. They’re screaming, I’m having trouble thinking and writing.

  16. Jess says:

    Oh man oh man gahhhhhhhh I don’t know. OK. I have a lap-band. My kids don’t know that yet. But at some point they will. And I do not yet know quite how to articulate the reasons for my lap-band to them in a way that’s consistent with my overall messaging to them about bodies and diets and health and blahhhhhhhh. It’s so HARD.

    In your case, actually, you have a bona fide health reason and I would probably stick with that. Like, I would say that you know what? I have a health problem that gives me these headaches, as you know because sometimes I’m sick and have to lie down, and my doctor told me that certain kinds of foods make that worse, and so I’m not eating those foods anymore, because of this specific health issue that is mine and not yours. That, to me, is honest and avoids the issue of framing it around diets and body image and whether health is connected to weight and GAH GAH GAH.

  17. Hello Korio says:

    […]  I have really enjoyed everyone’s thoughts and comments on yesterday’s post. A lot of people have the same kind of angst and a lot of people have some good thoughts on how to […]

  18. Catriona says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments, so someone might have already said this but I wonder if you could explain your diet to Penny by saying you’re eating this way because you’ve found that when you do you get fewer headaches and you’re trying to take good care of yourself so you feel better. She doesn’t have to avoid eating pizza because it doesn’t make her feel unwell, but some foods make some people feel a bit yuck so they don’t eat them. You’ve mentioned before Penny has a sugar intolerance I think (?), and so doesn’t eat some things because of that. Depending on how much you’ve talked to her about that you could say it’s basically the same thing for you only different foods? This way it’s framed in terms of keeping healthy, and reinforces her need to avoid certain foods too, without getting into issues about weight, because you’re totally right, 4 is not the age for that, and people are supposed to be all different shapes and sizes, no one body shape or size is better than the other. Either way, I’m glad you’ve found a way of eating (I hate the word diet) that is helping you feel better. And also, Penny is gorgeous.

  19. Jenny says:

    We are a church-going household, and we tie some of these issues to our ideas about God. You know how people are beautiful when you love them, even if they don’t objectively look like movie stars? You love their smile, or how their eyes crinkle up when they laugh, or that little birthmark? God made people in all shapes and sizes, and he made them all beautiful because he loves them. “Fat” is just an adjective, like tall or short or blonde or freckly or flexible. We’re all beautiful.

    The other thing is that of course I want my kids to be healthy, but we aren’t in perfect control of our health. In the US, we tend to have this idea that if we eat perfectly and exercise perfectly and have the perfect flow of vitamins, we will never get diseases or die. But that’s not true. We can give our kids delicious organic balanced meals in perfect portion sizes, and they’ll still be at risk every day. All we can really do is our best with food and those issues, and also teach them about love and kindness and courage, to themselves and everyone around them. Then if they are healthy, they’ll be prepared for that, and if they aren’t, they’ll be prepared for that, too.

    It’s hard as hell, but anyway that’s what I think.

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