The Real Reason for Baby Fat

NOOOOW I get it. When I was 12, we moved to the city and I discovered walking to the convenience store to blow my allowance on candy. My mom started teaching farther away and I was on my own for breakfast and lunch, which meant I didn't eat them. Add puberty and you have the recipe for a 145 pound 12 year old. Even at 5'7", back in the late 70's, that was Fat. (Remember all those sooooper skinny ladies from the '70s?) I didn't appeal to boys until I joined Old Weight Watchers and dropped 20 lbs.

My daughter is officially 5'9" at her last checkup with a BMI of 20. Kids are bigger than they used to be, she's an athlete (basketball), and she's pretty much normal size. She is also pretty and has been the object of crushing here and there. Well, she's decided to return one of these crushes, and her father and I are amazingly unthrilled about it. He's a very nice boy but he's older by 3 years and she's only in 8th grade. I've told her since forever that she can't date (except going out as friends in groups) until she's 16. I've been kind of tying myself in knots over how much guidance/supervision to exercise around her food (probably making it harder than it needs to be), wanting to spare her as much as possible from the health and social hassles of getting too fat, while skirting the yawning abyss of eating disorders. (Also, I don't want to be an a**hole about it. So much potential for "Can you believe Mom used to" stories.) Here I've missed the obvious answer: donuts and cookies! Twinkies at every meal! Forget rollerblading, curl up with a book! 15 pounds of protective puppy fat and her Dad and I could stop hyperventilating about Facebook posts and texting. Or I could write "I'M 13, BACK OFF" on her forehead in Sharpie.

How do you guys pass down good food/weight/health messages to your kids? I read everything I can on the subject and I still don't have any "truth" to pass down other than Eat Real Food and Exercise.

PS I had an interview today. I'll keep y'all posted.


  1. Remember, she is 13 and YOU are still in charge. YOU set the rules, especially with dating. And, it is NOT too early to talk about all aspects of sexuality with her, that is for sure.

    I only have thinking of a 13 year old daughter dating is a bit foreign to me. My 15 year old son had his first "date" a couple weekends ago. They went bowling (4 of them all together) then came HERE to our house for lunch. They played wii. Jumped on the trampoline, etc...lots of laughing and girl was amusing. Then, the girls left. It was fun for everyone....did not involve any "dark corners" or situations where anything physical could really develop. I'm not wearing blinders....if the physical stuff is going to happen, it is going to happen. But, I am making sure that they have an environment where they can have fun, be kids, and hang out together without all of that "other stuff".

    Food wise....I do not really limit my kids much as long as they are physically active. There was a point when my now 15 year old used to sneak cookies and snacks into his bed (when he was around 10-13) and it just KILLED me....because that is what I used to do! Erg! Somehow, we got through that....he exercises daily (swim team and marching band), and he eats when he is hungry. He also makes his own most days and I am always impressed that it is a balanced meal. We got a pull up bar right by the 15 and 13 year old have contests. 15 can no do 3 sets of 12 pullups...which is amazing to me. 13 can do 3 sets of 5-6 pullups. 8 year working up to one real one...and is getting close. 6 year old is completely uninterested but likes to watch.

    We DO talk about food a lot....the importance of enough protein...of fruit, veggies....limiting but not eliminating unhealthy snacks..etc. But, the biggest and most important thing, I think, is ongoing daily activities and exercise. Keep em movin....keep em active.....keep em fit....then they will be healthy, burn lots of calories, sleep well and not have time for making trouble!

  2. I"m laughing because I have twin daughters that will be 12 in December who are the opposite of me in my youth. They are slender, love to be active and are beginning to get great figures.

    I like the sharpie on the forhead idea myself.. :) We have already begun to talk to our girls about keeping their virginity until marriage and about staying pure before God and to themselves. Not too many details, just enough. I agree with Greta about you make the rules. She may not like it sometimes now, but she will appreciate them when she's grown. Believe me...I had strict parents and I appreciated it so much when I was grown and saw what they saved me from by not allowing certain things.

    As for healthy habits to pass on. One thing I've done with all three of mine is not made them eat beyond full. Now, if they are hungry in an hour, then I know we have a problem. But I've never served large portions to them and I always tell them they can have seconds if they want it. They still don't eat much, except when the ballerina comes home from ballet - then she's an eating machine. But, hey, so am I after a good workout.

    I also started making sure there is always fruit available for snacks and I tell them only one treat per night. If they are still hungry after their dessert/treat, then they can have some fruit.

    I have to say I didn't grow up in a family that had the finances to keep fresh fruits and veggies around often, so I feel blessed that I can have this for myself and my family.

    My children also have great metabolisms (like their father) and I just remind them that as they get older they will need to stay exercising. I think/hope seeing me exercise regularly will be a good influence on them for the future years.

    Oh, and I wouldn't harp too much on your daughter. Honestly, I think you're right that it could get out of hand and make her more self conscience about her weight than necessary. I say that because though I was heavy growing up, I'm so glad my parents didn't get on me about it. I felt the pressure from everything on the outside of my home..I didn't need that in my home. hhmm... there is balance, but I had to get that out there also.

    Good Lord! This comment is a book..sorry. I can relate so much to what you wrote because of where my kids are now and how I also don't want them to suffer through being heavy like I did.

  3. I had one of each, a boy and a girl. Treacherous waters, indeed. I see now, tho' that those waters are much more shark infested earlier. Neither of my kids could date until they were 16, and we were lucky, they were ok with that. I see kids today out on real "dates" at 13 and 14. Things just happen too fast. I do, however, like the Sharpie idea.

    The Food Saver is a tabletop device and comes in many price ranges. It seals foods, camping stuff, matches, etc. in water tight, freezer burn preventing plastic wrap. Rather like a ZipLoc bag with the air sucked out of it. It uses a vacuum and then heat seals (melts a seam). YOu can make any sized bag you want/need. I got a mid-priced one at Cabelas online. I used an old device this summer for my sundried tomatoes, blanced green beans, roasted corn, etc. I buy foods when they are on sale and vacuum pack them for storage. Many things at Costco are a wonderful value, but the bundles are way too large for just the two of us. I weigh and divide portions and seal them up. My old sealer was a grocery store model that was so cheap they stopped making it. Food Saver has been making these things for a long while. As a matter of fact, years and years ago, I remember one of the first infomercials being about the Food Saver. If you need more info, feel free to email me.

  4. I don't have much advice as we don't have children. But, setting a good example by eating healthy, exercising, and getting her involved in meal preparation can work wonders.

    Good luck with the interview!!

  5. My 13 year old son loves junk food but is not so keen on being active. While I don't restrict junk food completely - because you know those teens just gotta have it when you tell them no - I limit the amount of junk that's in the house. If it's not here, they can't eat it.

    The schools here are toying with the idea of sending home BMI reports about our kids - which I object to big time. They've slashed the phys ed programs, allow them 10 minutes of recess and during a kid's biggest growth spurt, they tell a kid whose hormones are all over the place and who isn't fully through the growth spurt that he's fat. Give me a break. While I am watchful of his weight/height (they are evening out now), I am especially watchful of people's "good intentions".

  6. @ Gigi, a lot of parents are not happy about the BMI thing. Some get quite pissed about it. It doesn't really bother me, maybe I see it as (a) just a number and (b) it's meant as feedback, not moral judgement. Now if that number went anywhere but to the parents, I would have a huge problem with it. But many parents really don't know and seeing it written down might get them to change the environment at home. I so wish we could look at weight the way we do at cholesterol and blood sugar-- you don't feel like a failure if you're cholesterol's high, but you do want to take steps to make things better. I do wish they'd allow more recess. I particularly hate it when they take it away as a punishment. Like that's gonna help a rammy kid concentrate! Ah well, a post for another time.

  7. Larkspur, I really struggle with this. I have a son who is walking down a similar path to me. I hate to see it coming, but I know how I reacted to someone trying to force me to be healthier. It didn't work. I wish I knew how to handle it.


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