My Eats

How "The Accidental Fat Chick" Hatched...

Welcome to The Accidental Fat Chick's new online home!

During the summer 0f 2008, I woke up one morning with a drive to live a healthy lifestyle. Since then, I've made many changes and lost nearly 50 pounds. Many of my friends and family members have come to me, asking about what I'm doing & how I'm doing it. While I certainly would never claim to be an expert, I'm happy to share what I've learned along the way.

So after careful thought... "The Accidental Fat Chick" has hatched... with the hope of helping at least one person and to be the accountability I need to finish what I started. :)

Thank you for visiting!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Kids & Food

It seems there has been a flurry of chatter in blogland about kids & diet talk, etc. This is a post I've been working on all week - I swear something must be in the air - and thinking about much longer.


A few weeks ago, I was at dinner with a friend, his two daughters and The Boy One. The oldest girl is the same age as The Boy One (12) & is very nearly my size. So, at dinner she ordered this HUGE platter meal - literally enough food to feed me for an entire day - and proceeded to eat the entire thing! Upon completion of the meal (er, feast), she looks at The Boy One and says, "Look how much food I just ate!!!" There was such a look of satisfaction on her face & glee in her voice. Her joy over this "feat" made me sick to my stomach. It was all I could do to bite my tongue. I felt just sad for her... sad that she thinks eating like that is something to be proud of... sad that her father apparently knows very little about nutrition and what it means to eat healthfully.

Since that day, I have paid careful attention when dining out. The occurrence with her really opened my eyes... but it is far from isolated. It seems nearly every time I dine out, I see/hear children being praised for the amount of food they eat and/or chastised if they dare to leave food on their plate. In one instance, I actually heard a mother tell her child, "I'm paying for that meal and we are not leaving here til you eat every bite." And omg, a trip to the buffet (where I go only for sushi) about had me wanting to cry for the children being allowed to go back for three and four plates of food.

Here in blogland, I have read multiple accounts of people who do things like preparing two meals each night - one healthy meal for themselves and then the "usual" stuff for their kids/spouses, purchase school lunches for their children while packing a healthy lunch for themselves, etc.

All of this has gotten me to thinking A LOT about kids & food. While I would NEVER encourage my child or any other to "diet," I do think we have a responsibility to teach children the importance of eating healthy, nutritious foods.

While I understand the temptation to feed kids a different set of food from what we eat when we are trying to lose weight, I have to be honest and say its not something I agree with doing.

How many of us site how important our children are & wanting to be more actively involved with them as a reason for wanting to lose weight/get healthy? If that is true, why would we want to continue feeding our children foods that set them up to have the same struggles with food that we do? Why would we want to continue feeding our children foods that will put them at an increased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, maybe even cancer? If we recognize these foods are not healthy for us to be eating, why on earth would we feel comfortable feeding these foods to our children?

How many of use grew up in homes with an overweight parent (or two) and learned the eating/activity habits that lead us to becoming overweight adults? Its no secret kids learn by example and (especially the little ones) want to mimic the adults they look up to in life. If we are setting a good example, by eating healthy foods, why not take it one step further and feed the whole family the same healthy foods?

In our home, we all eat the same foods. That's not to say we don't have treats... but they are treats we ALL indulge in. One day a week, The Boy One & I have ice cream after his therapy session. On weekdays, we all eat a healthy breakfast - for The Boy One its a Cheerios type cereal with low fat yogurt. Then on weekends, he is allowed his choice of sugary cereals, in a reasonable portion. On our "payday" dinners, we all eat whatever looks appealing on the menu and I don't worry about what I'm eating because I know its just one meal. While things like cookies & chips don't typically come in the house, we all enjoy them as an occasional part of life... not the daily norm. The Boy One knows candy is something we have once in a awhile - because it tastes good - but that it is not "real food" to eat on a regular basis. The Boy One (and The Husband when he's here) happily eat the healthy recipes I prepare... they are tasty & honestly I don't think they even realize they are eating "healthy food." For me, this is part of the "doing it in a way I can sustain for the rest of my life" approach. It only makes sense to teach him to eat, now, in a way that he can eat for his whole life to maintain his health & wellness.

This is the approach I have taken with him since he was small & it works for us. A few years ago, he had a beloved uncle pass away after battling cancer & congestive heart failure. In the process of explaining the illness to him... we told The Boy One gently, but honestly, that part of what contributed to his uncle becoming ill was his unhealthy diet, drinking alcohol excessively, and smoking. That put the first seed in his head that he needed to take care of himself. Today, he watches his Grandma's health deteriorate and when he asks why she is sick... I continue to be honest with him. He knows that while people are sometimes predisposed to illnesses, that there are ways you can take care of yourself to help stay healthy. And yes, despite his "differences" he really does know and understand these concepts. Am I burdening him in some way by being so open and honest about these things with him? I hope not. I believe with my whole heart it is important to be honest with him & not beat around the bush when it comes to matters of illness & what can be done to minimize the risks.

For me, it is critically important to help our children learn to eat in a healthy manner, NOW when they are young, so that it becomes a life long habit... not something they struggle to learn as they reach adulthood. Because of that I am going to focus most of my healthy recipe tests on meals & snacks that are kid friendly. I'm guessing this will involve some recipe "makeovers" and some brand new creations. We will let The Boy One be the "kid taste tester" and I will share our findings.

For those of you that take this approach or a similar one, what are some of your kids' favorite "healthy" meals?

And for those of you who feed your kids a different "diet" from yourself, I'm genuinely curious as to why you do this.

Please know I'm not trying to attack anyone for the way they choose to feed their children. I am merely burdened with fear over what America - at large - is doing to our children (often without even realizing it). It makes me sad to see a generation of children growing up on Happy Meals & cardboard pizza... especially when there are so many ways to make kid-friendly healthy meals.

I keep coming back to this one thought...

If we love ourselves enough to fuel our bodies with nutrious foods on a regular basis... shouldn't we love our children enough to do that and more?


Life as a Caterpillar said...

This is a great post Julie, there is a lot in there to think about. I'm a lone parent, so i have always dished up exactly the same food to my daughter - it sounds simply crazy to make two or more meals- that's creating work for yourself and division int he family. My daughters favourite meal is Spaghetti bolognese. I am a vegetarian weight watcher, and she is neither of those things, but that is her favourite meal. She's never had mcdonalds, kfc, burger king..our biggest treat would be going down to the local pub and having fresh fish (for her) and vegetable pie and chips (for me).That's maybe once every other month. I have always been adamant that she will never have weight problems like me, and she is almost 10, 4ft 7 and 60lbs. She is athletic and goes to dance, netball, football, swimming, running and athletic clubs during the week. I agree with everything you say


solidice242 said...

I love this post and you are so right. I love this post. But I am kinda of on the fence about this subject. I can understand both side of the fence. Another thing I realise is that your opinion of the matter may have been swayed by the fact that the child is overweight. If she was underweight or average sized, maybe your perception of her glee may have been swayed. I am not criticizing your post because I do think you are right I just think that this topic is so debatable...

Drazil said...

So heartbreaking....but what a great post Julie. Love your take on this....take care of you.

bbubblyb said...

I agree great post Julie. Since both Mike and I were obese for so long we did give some bad habits to the kids. But I think we have corrected so many. I could ramble on and on about all that has changed in the past 39 months but I will just say I do see great changes in my children. I would rather "burden" them with good knowledge then see them go down the road I did for so many years.

As for recipes I took a lot of our favorites and just made them healthier. Since Nicholas (my 13 yr old) has an eating disorder he does eat differently than we do. But I do try hard to make his choices the best I can.

Gina said...

I think you're right on the money too! We don't have kids yet, but from the posts around this subject that I've read & watching my sister & how she feeds her two young kids (4 & 1), I definetly agree with you. There's also something to think about with fat cells. What I've read/heard is that the more junk you give your body, the bigger these things grow. They don't shrink back when you change your diet or some nonsense. Not 100% confident in the source or really the accuracy, but it makes some sense. That's part of the reason it's so hard to lose weight. Who wants to make two meals & sets of unclean dishes anyway;-) Good post. You shouldn't have to worry about offending anyone since you didn't use anyone as an example that is a reader & you're entitled to your opinions.

cmoursler said...

over the past year our whole families diet has changed drastically.
It started with me making my own dinners and me making dinners for them....
slowly it's become about 70 percent all together dinners and 30 percent dinners seperate.
and usually the seperate dinner comes about cause I flubbed during the day with my calories and as such can only 'afford' a 300 calorie meal. Not enough for the kids at all.
So like last week I made them chili and I had eggs for dinner.
Tonight though, We all had tacos and it was so funny.
We used to do white tortillas...then we switched to corn shells...and I slowly introduced latortilla whole grain wraps. Now they eat those with it.
I went from full fat cheese to 2 percent. iceburg lettuce to romaine, plus bell pepper, sour cream to greek yogurt. etc.
We stopped going through the drive thru two years ago. Fast food has been had twice in our home in the last two years. once kfc, once burger king.
We eat turkey kielbasa. We all eat much healthier.
The only snacks I keep are fruit and goldfish and pretzels.
Once a week I take the kids to barnes and nobles where we each get one sweet.
I get 2 snack sized peanut butter cookies...kate gets a brownie and sophie gets a cinnamon roll and that is just what it is, a treat.
Great post.

Amy said...

none of my nieces or nephews eat and we do spend every meal in or out begging them to eat enough calories to sustain growth. It's awful and frustrating and it makes every meal a battleground, as much as limiting food would. We do feed them a different diet in order to get them to eat and high calorie macaroni and cheese while gross and totally non-nutritional is one of the few things they will eat.

That said, I did baby sit for people who kept their snackfood in a locked closet that the kids spent all night staring at. To which I wonder, why would you buy something you had to lock up that wasn't alcohol or guns.

Christina said...

WOW! This is a wonderful post! You've just inspired me to write a similar one. Thanks, girlfriend!!

Cara said...

This is so interesting and TRUE! My mom and her brother spent most of their lives being obese, and my uncle blames it on their parents forcing the "clean plate club" thing. To avoid perpetuating the problem in his mind, he lets his elementary school-aged kids subsist on tiny diets of pizza and macaroni and cheese while he and his wife eat other things. My mom took the other route and frequently forced the clean plate thing when my sisters and I were kids. (we all have food issues as adults) As someone who wants to have kids soon, the food thing really freaks me out, and I struggle to figure out what is right. Great insight!!