Low Fat Fattie.

9 Feb

“Vivian, why didn’t you eat your snickerdoodles?” I’ve emptied her lunchbox to find the sandwich, juice and kiwi missing. The only thing left are 1.5 homemade cookies, lonely in their tupperware.

“Well….I don’t want to get a belly like yours Mom. I want to eat a low fat diet.”



I want my daughters to be healthy. I acknowledge that I have work to do on my body, and have told them that the parts I’m not happy with are because I eat poorly and don’t always get enough exercise. I’ve told them that we exercise to keep our bodies strong, and we eat good food like fruits and veggies and protein to make sure we have good fuel. And we eat cookies or candy as a treat.

But then one day I saw something posted at Vivian’s school that mentioned a diet. I worried about it, thought about asking then school, but after some thought, realized it was on the “parent” bulletin board, and wasn’t meant for the kids anyway. But I still worried-what are they teaching about healthy habits and food? They serve mostly junk in the cafeteria-I don’t find shepherd’s pie or lasagna particularly healthy. And to be honest, she watches far more TV and plays online much more than I’m happy about-and most days, that’s an hour, maybe a bit more.

But I can’t be next to her every moment of the day. I wander by when I’m home, check what she’s doing online, what she’s watching. But while I’m not a fan of her necessarily having access, I also realize she’s a child growing up in a new world, and I can’t, and won’t cut her off. I can provide the commentary. I can remind her that healthy insides aren’t always tiny outsides, just as I can remind Vivian women can be warriors.

But what if it isn’t enough?

What if I cannot fight it all? The magazines, the commercials, the clothing, the people around us-what if no matter how comfortable I am in my skin, how often I remind them that health is priority-I worry that the message they will still get is that you aren’t good enough. You must give something up. You must be something else.

How many 6 year olds don’t want cookies?


Or perhaps, she’s just internalized what we see and hear and LIVE each day. That food is TEH ENEMY and we must gird our loins in preparation, and is just spouting what she sees.

Or maybe, instead of saying she ran out of time, she just said whatever came to mind, and it doesn’t mean anything.

She’s 6. I didn’t think I had to worry about this just yet.


11 Responses to “Low Fat Fattie.”

  1. flutter February 9, 2010 at 9:24 pm #

    Explain to her how moderation is the key to all things and make that your constant message. We are so used to going to extremes, aren’t we?


  2. March February 10, 2010 at 6:28 am #

    with both my kiddos, but specially with Morgan, my mantra is “all food in good quantities”. and we explain over and over that there is not bad food, just food we eat in different quantities.
    they both pay a lot of attention to my attitudes towards food. Morgan, who’ll turn 6 in April, keeps asking me why I eat certain things more than others, and why I don’t eat meat and all that. and for sure they both pay a lot of attention to my working out. when Morgan has a day off school during the week, she comes over to the gym with me and “watches” me run from the pay area. and sometimes she runs along with me on the track. I explain to her over and over that working out is part of keeping our bodies healthy and working well. and this message comes up everytime they see me take my medication. I do explain to her that running is helping me breathe better and be healthier.
    this is a subject I do touch with her over and over as I see the insanity everywhere, and I don’t take for granted that she’ll just process it well. we go over healthy food and not-so-healthy food, but we stress the point that in good quantity everything is ok to have.
    it’s so hard when we don’t control what they hear, we must stay a step ahead.

  3. Jennifer February 10, 2010 at 8:47 am #

    Yeah, my Morgan has also told me that she didn’t want to be fat when she grows up.

    She has told me that she wants me to loose weight so that I will be healthy and around for a long time.

    So, on this new venture of mine (eating like we have evolved to eat) I’ve been going along and teaching her that we are still learning about whats good for our bodies, and that many chemicals that are being used in food are not good for us and are making us sick.

    She understands that I think. She’s been really interested in the science behind nutrition and how we process carbs. Of course, I’ve had a few “ah ha” moments myself regarding this. The most important thing I’ve tried to keep in mind, is to never call it a “diet”.

  4. niobe February 10, 2010 at 9:09 am #

    Gray was like this, refusing cookies and sweets. But it wasn’t because he was worried about his weight (at least I don’t think it was), but more because what he ate was one of the few things over which he had total control. To be all pop-psych about it, it could be that with all the recent changes in V’s life, she’s using this as a means of feeling that there are at least some things that she’s the one who makes the decisions.

    I could be wrong, though. I frequently am.

  5. Hannah February 10, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    Isaac doesn’t always eat junk food when it’s offered to him – between Michael’s diabetes and my constant lectures about needing lots of nutritious food to fuel to machine, he is surprisingly responsible about his food choices for a 4.5 year old.

    Given his genetic makeup, I’m not worried about that at all – I’d rather he veer away from the cookies & stuff.

    What I don’t like is some of his totally innocent and rather hurtful comments about other people’s (read: mine and Michael’s) weight. Like, “daddy has a jelly belly” and “mommy, you must be having a baby because look how chubby you’re getting”. OUCH.

    I’m rambling. I dunno what to tell you. I am always, always giving him information about healthy foods vs. unhealthy foods, and he is totally allowed to have treats too – but I don’t know how he’s got that turned around inside of his head. Maybe he eschews junk because, like Viv, he’s afraid of having a big belly. Or maybe he’s just been listening (gasp!) to me more than I think.

  6. Titanium February 10, 2010 at 1:27 pm #

    OH…. that smarts. I remember when my daughter was two and I was leaning over to wrangle the diaper bag; she warbled, “Mommy, you have horse’s butt!”


    Her latest step-mother (conjure that image) actually told her that she was not allowed to eat ice cream because she was “too fat”- then proceeded to snarf a giant bowlful, right in front of her. And we wonder why kids have self-esteem issues…

    No, we can’t always be there to protect them. Especially from the ones closest who seem to hurt them the most. But we can model respectable eating habits, show them how to play outdoors and teach them by example that even moms with bellies climb mountains, kayak rivers, go rock climbing and kick butt at freeze tag.

  7. Marcy February 10, 2010 at 6:23 pm #

    Perhaps she could be part of the treat scheduling — you could discuss how often a treat should be included in lunch, or let her decide when she wants one, or something…

    Did she seem to feel deprived, or was she happy with her decision?

  8. Kelly O February 10, 2010 at 10:37 pm #

    Yeah, Thea refused ice cream when she was 5 because she didn’t want to get fat. We’ve got a long row to hoe, my friend.

  9. et February 11, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    everything changes. who they are and what they think when they are 4.5, 5 & 6 isn’t written in stone.

    why would anyone take a comment by a 2 year old seriously? a horse’s butt is neither good nor bad until you put a value judgment on it. from a kid’s perspective lots of things are large and proportion isn’t one of their strengths.

  10. magpie February 12, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

    Ouch. My child has made cracks about her parents’ weight – and told me my teeth were green the other day – but she has not internalized dieting in such a way as to turn down cookies. Yet.

  11. et February 12, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    Here are a 4 year olds comments:
    “I don’t like what I weigh,” she said.

    Why? I asked. Were the other girls talking about how much people weigh?

    “No, it’s just that your numbers go up to eighty-five! You have so much more than me — when will I get heavier?”


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