“Mom, I can’t wait to be 17 – so I can buy the food that I want, instead of all this healthy stuff all the time. All the other kids at school have ‘good’ food. You never let us get what we want!” This was my son’s rant in the grocery store (after Church School, no less) this past Sunday. Loudly. I did not back down. The choco-puffy-sugary cereal did not go into the cart. Nor did the pastry-frosty-toasty thingies. I held my NuVal Mom ground. Then, my son asked for money to buy a journal so that he can write his life story. Which I am not allowed to read. I gave him the money for the journal. Better than candy.
I don’t want my son to turn 17 (really this age of being able to make food decisions on his own will come sooner, not that I’m telling) and dive head-first into a sugar and fat-filled frenzy. Both my kids do indulge in treats on an occasional basis. Last week, during a short vacation on Cape Cod, we ate meals in restaurants. I compromised. My kids had skim milk with lunch, but a soft drink with dinner. But, when it comes to the every day routine, it’s lots of fruits and veggies, as many high-scoring foods as I can get my kids to eat, and as many home-cooked meals as I can find the time to make. This past Sunday, with travel booked into my schedule for the week, I was in the kitchen all afternoon making sure that a nutritious crock pot dinner was prepped for Tuesday and a Cooking Light pasta casserole was made for Wednesday. Lunches are made, not bought (except for once a week). Phew! Yes, it’s a ton of work. And what thanks do I get? “Mom, I can’t wait to be 17, so I can eat junk food!” Fantastic.
And even with all that work, who knows if my kids will continue to have their lean frames as they grow. My own experience tells me that things can change. There are photos of me at age 8 with my ribs sticking out. And then suddenly, in 5th grade, when they weighed us for wrestling, I was in the “heaviest” category. (Whose idea was that anyway?)
I recently had a unique invitation to join the pediatricians and nurse practitioners at my children’s practice (Westwood-Mansfield Pediatrics) for a lecture on the issue of childhood obesity. The guest speaker was Michael Leidig, RD, LDN Clinical Director of the Center for Youth Wellness at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts New England Medical Center in Boston. It was an eye-opening experience for me. While I’m well-aware of the glum childhood obesity statistics (more than 1/3 of children are overweight or obese), I hadn’t really thought about it from a pediatrician’s perspective. I didn’t know how hard it is sometimes to convince parents or kids that treatment is necessary. They told me that parents will sometimes say, “Please don’t bring up the weight issue again this year. It will only make my son/daughter cry.” And until that morning, I hadn’t thought about how isolated overweight and obese children can become. I was in awe of Michael Leidig and the work that he is doing at Floating Hospital and of the work that the pediatricians and nurse practitioners are doing on the front lines as well.
Interestingly, most of pediatricians and nurse practitioners are parents too. And we all commiserated over how hard it is to help our kids make the most nutritious decisions at those seemingly weekly birthday parties and other events. They were all happy to hear about NuVal scores right in the Walpole Big Y down the street and they are now guiding their patients to use this tool.
Yvonne’s Abraham’s Boston Globe column this past Sunday, entitled Reducing Weighty Obstacles, is what reminded me of the morning that I recently spent with the pediatricians. Here’s a little glimpse:
If a mother like Teneka Williams struggles to keep her daughter from sliding into obesity, America is in big trouble. Williams is the kind of mother doctors at an obesity clinic dream of. Usually, parents need some convincing that their overweight kids have a problem, and they aren’t always ready to make changes. “Teneka has been incredible,’’ says Dr Elsie Taveras. And yet she has trouble keeping her daughter healthy.
You have to pay for Boston Globe content now, but I assure you that this one is worth the small fee. Abraham goes on to say, “It seems like the whole world is set up to help girls like Tiarra gain weight.” Ugh! It sure does sometimes. That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing – trying to get NuVal into every grocery store I can, trying to educate every person I can about NuVal scores, and trying to keep my own family healthy. Even it it means that my son can’t wait until he turns 17! I wonder if he’ll ever let me read that journal he started when he was 8.
Posted in: Obesity