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my 8yr. old daughter is packing on pudge

How can I help my daughter? I don't want to tell her to be careful or she will look like me because I am concerned about her self image at such a young age, but the truth is - I can't help but think it. She loves junk food - like her dad - and does not care for the healthy things that I try to encourage. Although she is not overweight now and she is an active child, she is not the fit and slender child she used to be. I see the cellulite in her bottom and legs and she is starting to acquire some bulge in her torso. She does not have the stamina to walk with me, though she plays hard outside. What can I do? Any ideas would be appreciated.

Thu. Apr 20, 10:21am

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I think about this a lot and what my mother could have done differently. First, I think children cannot just hold healthy habits on their own. If you have a dual parent home, BOTH parents should participate and set an example of healthy living. Do as I say not as I do, problem?

I'd say first, talk to your husband. If he won't change his bad habits for his own health maybe he will for his daughter's. Try eliminating the easy stuff from the house: processed sugars, candy, pop, chips. Make the same changes for yourself for the whole family. But, DON'T give out the lowfat, 1/3 fat, modified carb stuff that is not real whole food and not good for anyone.

Example: Crystal light is pure chemicals and not good for children especially.

Try having outdoor family activities. I gained baby fat at around 9 and lost it all with a little effort and activity at 12, it could just be that (we also moved to the beach, so I was always swimming, walking and playing outside).

It is a very sensitive age, and what comments I heard about the baby fat still sting to this day when I was 8, so keep that in mind.

Thursday, April 20, 2006, 10:33 AM

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Watch -Honey we're killing the kids.

and for heavens sakes do something now so she doesn't have to be an over weight teen ager or adult.

Thursday, April 20, 2006, 10:46 AM

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I have to agree with the previous poster about baby fat comments. I was a chubby kid even though I played outside often and was never really into TV. My mother would constantly make remarks about me having too much baby fat. As I got older I was told to "suck in my tummy" and "get more exercise" while my mom dished out ice cream before bed every night. Her comments really hurt me and, to this day, if she brings up comments about how chubby I was as a kid I just rip into her. My mom and I were never able to grow close and part of that was because I always felt so hurt when she started to "innocently" criticize my weight (other kids never mentioned anything so she was the only one to "tease" me).

If don't have unhealthy foods in the house she'll naturally go to the healthier alternatives but be careful about saying anything because it can really ruin a mother daughter relationship.

Thursday, April 20, 2006, 10:46 AM

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I recently battled this problem with my son. His father and I are divorced and not on the best of 1/2 the week he spends with my ex husband where he is" rewarded with junk food etc etc" and I cant seem to get through to my ex that this is NOT OK( hence the divorce heh). Its difficult because my sons friends dont have the same genetic make up...most 11 year olds can eat anything they want and it doesnt really show on them, so when hes out at the playground he buys candy and soda just like the rest of them and I know I cant ALWAYS be there to help him stick to good choices. I decided to hire once a week a " big brother" he is sort of like a personal trainer for children and not anymore expensive than a piano lesson or something of the sort. He comes every week and takes my son out on a bike ride or to play basketball.... and at the same time talks with him about being healthy. My son comes home and tells ME about portion control and how certain foods are good for your skin and certain ones are good for your bones haha its actually been great. Its tough to change bad habits and not create a bad body image... but just making your child more aware of how incredible their body and life really are is important...try talking with her and participating in fun outdoor activities. Just dont ever talk about losing weight, cause afterall it isnt about that, its about health.

Thursday, April 20, 2006, 10:53 AM

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These are all great comments, especially the Personal Trainer/ Big bother. I could use one of those. :)

Am I the only person whose having trouble with the OP's comment " does not care for the healthy things that I try to encourage"? I think this is a big problem. You are the parent, it is your JOB to make sure your kids eat right and give them the tools to make the right choices when it's their responsibility. An 8 year old does not have the required knowledge or decision making skills and that's why they are such a huge marketing target for the food industry.

Have you seen fast food nation? I forget the exact statistic, but it was something along the lines of "a child who watches an average amount of TV will see 10,000 food commercials" if you were to talk to your child about healthy food choices 10 times a day you still couldn't compete with that, they have celebrities, bright colors and songs on their side. In addition to all the great advice above I'd say get a tivo and teach her to skip all commercials. Even if she doesn't watch much tv, those ads are designed to manipulate kids...and it works.

Thursday, April 20, 2006, 11:37 AM

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cellulite on a kid? i didn't think that was possible?

Thursday, April 20, 2006, 11:39 AM

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Change what's at home. Serve salads, or fruit salads, etc., with every dinner, and cook wholesome, healthy food. But, also, serve the food yourself (don't do family-style with big casseroles on the table), so you can control portions. If your daughter is full afterwards, she won't need seconds; if she's legitimately hungry after she's had time to digest, she'll tell you, and you can serve her more food.

If you've been a parent who fixes a dinner for you and your husband, but makes a second dinner of hot dog/grilled cheese/pizza/mac and cheese/etc. for your daughter because she doesn't like the dishes you see (I see this ALL the time!), stop now, and tell her that she's becoming a grown up and it's time for her to eat with you and your husband. Make it sound like a priviledge. She'll probably throw a couple tantrums at first, and maybe refuse to eat dinner a couple of times, but, she'll get used to it and she'll be hungry, so she'll eat what you serve. The younger the kids are, the easier it'll be to change their habits.

If you pack her lunch for school, make sure the majority of it is healthy. When I was little, my mom always packed me a sandwich and a piece of fruit, and then a treat of some sort. It'd be, for example, 2 oreos, or 1 pudding snack pack, or 1 package of fruit snacks, etc. I remember having friends whose parents would pack them all "yummy" food, and I was jealous of their lunches, but, I still ate mine! That's just how it was.

Also, sign her up for an "activity." I played on the soccer team (which I hated, and quit soon after), took tennis lessons every summer, and was on the swim team at our pool every summer (I hated that too, but, now as an adult I'm a decent swimmer, and I do appreciate that I learned.) I also took ballet and tap lessons in the winter, and when I got a little bit older, I switched to gymnastics, by choice. But, all of the activities before gymnastics were because my mom signed me up for them. I didn't ask. That's just what I did. So multiple nights a week, I got exercise, and I thought it was just an activity.

Thursday, April 20, 2006, 12:37 PM

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Monkey see monkey do.

Thursday, April 20, 2006, 12:58 PM

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You say that she does not have the stamina to keep up with you. Well, help her get there. My son is 8-years old and I have made it a habit to keep him involved in my healthy activities, because one of the reasons I seek to be healthy is to be a good role-model to my children. He walks with me, sometimes we jog - he is my personal trainer - saying, "Come on mom, I thought you wanted to exercise!" If you make it about them helping you stay healthy they get into it - they never realize that it's about them too. My son and I also ride our bikes and we even go on moutain bike trails! He is awesome. I imagine him riding the Tour de France when he is older or something. :<) Take time to walk slowly with her until she can keep up with you - spend time with her one on one. Also, if she walks too slowly, get her a scooter. She will be getting some exercise and you will too! You can also vary between the scooter and walking. Go biking! Go hiking! Tell her that you really need some help with your exercise and to please help you and keep you company. By saying "I need to get some exercise" instead of "YOU need to get some exercise," it's not about her. By saying "WE need to learn how to eat more healthy foods," it's not about her.

I told my son that we were going to be eating more veggies, and even though he complained about it - he eats them. WE HAVE THE POWER. :<) We are the parents. My husband also eats a ton of junk food - without gaining an ounce of course - but I try to teach my son that you can eat it in moderation. I cook and serve our dinners and always sneak in extras veggies. I cook some veggies and puree them and add them to sauces and stews and pastas, etc. It adds great nutrients and great flavor.

My son's drink of choice - water. We don't buy soda. We rarely have juice. You can't eat it or drink it, if it's not there.

It is great that you want to encourage your child to be healthy, and even better that you don't want to scar her emotionally. My mother and grandmother have serious issues when it comes to the whole weight thing as well. Child thrive when you can reach them one-on-one. Make exercising her special time with you. Go shopping at the mall, and before shopping, speed walk around the mall. Go outside and play with your daughter in whatever she's doing.


Thursday, April 20, 2006, 1:58 PM

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Star has some great comments.
I'm not a parent and don't have kids, but I am appalled at what some of my friends are feeding their kids! Their motto is-- as long as they eat SOMETHING, it's okay...

My 1 friend wonders why her kids are all hyper, yet, when she comes over, they come with a big bottle of Red Pop (strawberry soda) in hand, a bag of cheetos, candy, etc. And she wonders WHY her son is Hyper? I usually try to have some good foods (veggies, veggie dips, fruit, etc. but it's difficult to say anything because when they are visiting, they are usually here for a big party.)

The other friend has 3 kids, whose dad grew up on a steady diet of "meat & potatoes" in a farm country family of 8 kids. His mom's idea of "juice" was watered down Kool-aid, She also watered down the potatoes and fed them a steady diet of hot dogs & hamburgers, with rarely a vegetable in sight.
My friend is now divorced and raising her kids as best as she can, but she's given in to the "as long as they eat something mentality." I try to help her when visiting, but it's hard. (and the sad thing is that SHE likes eating food that's better for her, but she gives into the processed stuff because she feels she doesn't have much time!

To me, it seems that if the parents maybe have the kids participate more in the food-planning process, they might make better choices. i.e. instead of giving into a kid's tantrum-- maybe find ways to sneak in some healthy foods slowly into their diet--replacing the sodas with water, limiting the snacks as an occasional treat-- having the kids help to prepare the food-- Lots of kids find it fun to "cook" in the kitchen---I've seen magazines where parents make fun looking sandwiches using cookie cutters, etc....

Ants on a log (celery with peanut butter & raisins) is a pretty fun little snack for children... as are the packages of string cheese.... I even got my friends kids to try some yogurt dip--(organic, low-fat yogurt) mixed with a little cinnamon and agave nectar and chocolate powder-- they actually enjoyed dipping apples and other fruit in them...

It's kind of amazing what kids will eat if you make it "fun"...

Thursday, April 20, 2006, 4:22 PM

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