25 September 2009

My child obese??

I would not even allow that to the extent that I have the control.  There are certainly extenuating circumstances that explain why "some" children are obese, but the bottom line is, whoever is the guardian or parent of a child must take responsibility for monitoring the health of a child.

I have met some parents who seem to blame their child's obesity issue on everything "else" except themselves.  I don't understand that since I am a mother who could have been raising an obese child right now.  My son LOVES to eat, and if the food is indeed delicious, forget it, he would keep eating until you STOP him.

When I first brought him home from the hospital, at a nice round weight of 8lbs. 8 oz, he felt "heavy" to me, despite the fact that he was not overweight.   From the onset, when I was nursing him, he just seem to be insatiable, wanting to nurse every 1 1/2-2 hours, and I was amazed, worried, proud and exhausted all at the same time.   Family members would reassure me that he was considered a "healthy" baby and that his appetite was an indication of the fact that he would grow up to be a strong, vibrant young man.  So funny how "old fashioned" ideals can make you "believe" certain things to be true.

I have to say, it was very easy to "wean" Miles when I had to return to work because he was not attached to "me" so much, but more so attached to "eating."   He grew leaps and bounds for sure.  Initially, he was growing at a rate of about 1/2 lb a week, and I did not see any end in sight.   Though he was extremely adorable with the most gorgeous head of hair, he had a big head and a huge belly....LOL.  His belly seemed to be growing the most.   At that time, he inherited the nickname, "Cherub" from me.  Oh gosh, will this blog come back to bite me in the caboose about 10 years from now when he finds out I shared these little details with the world?

At age 1 1/2 yrs old, though not tall, he was wearing a size 4.   He continued to love to eat, any and everything.  I referred to him as "my" child, because I was not a picky eater, and neither was he.   His father had a much more limited taste bud, and so I was so happy about this personality trait of his.  Salmon, fruits, vegetables of all colors... this ... that.  If he saw it, he would try it, and if it tasted good, he wanted more.   When we would go out to eat as a family, as soon as we would put him in the high chair, we would frantically beg the waiter for a basket of bread, chips, crackers, whatever... just bring something NOW!   If we did not do that he would start to get impatient.    Things were very clear for my darling boy: RESTAURANT=FOOD=NOW!  

I had huge concerns about his eating habits, and his belly.   I took it upon myself to exercise my concerns as a mother and to streamline his diet.   We had nannies over the years, and I made it emphatically clear what my child was allowed to eat, how much he could eat, and how often he could eat.  We made sure his day was filled with various activities from learning, to having fun, to running, jumping, playing, enough to make him realize that his existence here on this earth was for more than just sitting around and eating.  And, I started to pay attention to the signs of when he would "express" that he was hungry and make certain it made sense that he should eat again.  I required that "we" keep a daily journal of all his meals/snacks, and activities to see the balance.

By the time Miles' sister Nia was born, he was 3 years and 3 months old, and much of that "cherub" belly that he had started to get smaller/stretch out as he got taller too.   We were never ever afraid to say to him, "you have had enough," or give him extra vegetables, or an extra fruit if he said he was still hungry.   We never bought sodas and it seems that us not keeping too many fattening snacks in the house on a regular basis helped to not create any "cravings" for him.

I still remained worried though he was losing the "belly," because his father was a big eater at times.   Breakfast was his favorite meal of the day, and he would want the BIGGEST breakfast you could imagine.  A big ham and swiss cheese omelette, followed by a huge stack of blueberry pancakes, with a side of bacon, and a side of sausage, AND buttered toast, or a buttered bagel, washed down with HUGE glass of orange juice.   I used to shake my head in disbelief each and every time because I just could not fathom how it felt to eat all of that food in one sitting.   That was "his" thing, and I can tell you that I did not sit and argue with him about it, but one day, I realized that I could no longer keep my mouth shut.

It came after we separated, and when my son would come back home to me after being with his father.  With a big "satisfied" smile on his face, he would cheerfully tell me about how he had a big delicious breakfast with his father, breakfasts that included all of what I listed in the previous paragraphs.  This to me, felt like I got a huge, nausea inducing blow to my stomach.   It made me ill when I heard it.   He was only 7 years old (with a 7 year old's stomach) at the time, and the thought of a 7 year old eating that much food was just beyond disturbing.

I heard a great thought today, "much of the children who are obese are so because of the example they have set before them."  Kids don't go out and earn a salary and then go shop for their own food or dine out on their own, WE provide for them.   WE let them HAVE.  Perhaps to overcompensate for something else that is missing.... food CAN NOT provide whatever the "IT" is that is missing. 

It took many, many, many attempts to get my ex-husband to realize that it was totally UNHEALTHY for our child to eat that much food.... and that much of that TYPE of food.  There is nothing cute or endearing about a child copying a habit that is not healthy from his parent.  Things are a lot better today, but it's still going to be an on-going issue because Miles enjoys food, and I can see that times when he says he is hungry, I know it's not hunger, but probably boredom or possibly stress.  His father still eats the way he does and so he will continue to be an influence on his son. 

As a parent you need to be careful about the habits you exhibit in front of your children because it could come back to haunt you in 5, 10, or even 30 years when you see your child with the same habits.   Also, we have to be careful about the things we say about food.  Many of us utter things that we think are harmless, but children are SO receptive.   Things like, "oh, I am so stressed out, I am going to have a huge bowl of ice cream.  Who cares!  I need it."   Children will adapt that to, "eat when you are stressed" or "eat whatever you want to eat when you are stressed,"  or "eat something fattening when you are stressed."

Childhood obesity is a HUGE problem, and it is very unhealthy for the children to have this issue.  They can develop heart problems, breathing problems, diabetes, high cholesterol, circulation problems, learning problems, self-esteem problems, poor digestion, colon issues, and MORE just like an obese adult.   Childhood does not prevent these major health problems when a child is obese.   

It IS our job as parents to HANDLE our child's health on all levels.  They need a proper diet, good sleep, exercise, LOVE and NURTURING.

Today I can say that Miles still loves food, but he does stop and consider what choices he is making (at least when he is with me) and he will say, "no I don't want to have that because I already had ......earlier today."  He has had a few "noticeable" unpleasant experiences with his stomach after he has eaten certain things, or after he has had too much of something...and he did NOT like it one bit.  Sometimes I have to remind him about them and it does the trick to keep him making sensible choices.  There are times he wants things that I do not agree with, and I will just say to him, "can we find something else that would be healthier for you to have at this time."  He understands that certain foods at certain times of the day are not ideal.  Of course, I let him have his "treats" from time to time, and he understands about balance, and moderation.

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