People without kids should not advise parentsUpdated 4.13.2015
In the Guardian, Lindy West has advice for parents, despite being childless herself. West is a HAES writer who’s moved on to more mainstream outlets. Here she’s attempting to tell parents how to deal with their kids if they are obese. And of course, she thinks that the very last thing a parent should do is tell the kid. At least she sort of allows that offering healthy food and getting them to move more would be a good thing.
Here’s the deal. Neither of my children wound up being obese, but we did take steps to ensure that their weight gain as they matured wasn’t too rapid. In other words, we PARENTED them, which meant paying attention to how they were developing and altered our choices as needed. The thing is, kids eat what their parents feed them. When we determined that our kids weights were rising a little too rapidly, we ALL changed our diet.
In my parenting experience (and unlike Lindy West, I have parented two children to adulthood, one of whom is now a professional ballerina), being honest worked best. We discussed the issue openly, and let them say their piece as well. I tried the hide the vegetable thing, but actually found that telling my kids what I was doing and why worked better than trying to fool them.
If suddenly the family diet changes or family hikes commence, kids are going to wonder why. And most kids aren’t stupid. Or unaware of their size with respect to others. Being forthright about the health concerns related to being obese is an honest way to approach the issue, particularly if the entire family adopts the change. Health is not only a concern for the obese child, everyone benefits from eating healthy.
Honesty leads to mindful eatingOne thing that being honest does is offer the best chance for kids to develop the ability to eat mindfully. Eating mindfully is a better bet than eating intuitively. As noted in this article, intuitive eating won’t make you skinny, eating the right amount of food for you movement will. Are there different body types? Yep. Is there a MORBIDLY OBESE body type? NOPE.
The “naturally” skinny people move more than most people realize and eat less than it seems. These habits are established most effectively in childhood.
The message to eat mindfully rather than “intuitively” is good— mostly because eating patterns are learned in my experience few people truly eat “intuitively”. Add in the fact that the body learns to expect whatever amount of bounty it’s had, and well, there’s your obesity epidemic.