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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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I grew up in a healthy house in the sense that there were no snacks or sweets. (when my husband and I moved intogether he asked me where I wanted to put the "snack cabinet." and I asked what that was.) She always served veggies and salad with dinner. I took ballet... though really hated moving in general. My mother said that girls around 4th grade always go through what she coins as a "croissant" stage. My mother was always telling me "only 2 "cookies at church or wherever we were... down my throat about it. I remember making open faced sandwiches out of butter and sugar just for something treatlike. When I got out of the house in college my weight which I still struggled with (even though I look back and I really was thin) bloomed and even more when I got out until I went on the blood type diet briefly.
I had to learn on my own how to eat for me. Love her as she is- don't mention weight at all. Have a balance of healthy stuff and sweets (there are natrual sweet potato chips and oatmeal raisin cookies are good)- let her monitor how much.. and she will learn on her own that if she eats a bunch of junk she won't feel great. My mother kept me under her thumb my whole life until I left the house- even then her arm stretched through 10 states.. Let her eat when she is hungry. I remember having to wait for dinner and being truly starving (stomach feels like it is turning inside out) and just wolfing down dinner and not feeling full. It always felt like food was being rationed out. It just did not help.
So long story short my mother did her "best" to teach me how to eat right and I still ended up 80lbs overweight in adulthood.
Be active as a family- make things fun... maybe take a mom daughter karate class- go to the playground and swing with her.
Just love her as she is and let the rest just be.

Thursday, April 20, 2006, 5:41 PM

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How to help your child......

As the mother of the family, you are probably the primary the healthy, whole foods that will benefit the family....if anyone complains, tell them that these healthy changes can be rewarded with trips to the park, zoo etc.

Visit with your pediatrician for advice particular to your daughter. He or she will know precisely what to do.

Ensure that in every change you make, your daughter loves herself. Tell her every day that she is smart and beautiful.

Don't make food the enemy (she will have to battle it every day). Rather, help her develop good food behaviors.

Again, I would first consult with a pediatrician....she COULD have an underlying health problem going on and changes in diet could intensify that.


Thursday, April 20, 2006, 11:56 PM

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Eight years old? She's on the verge of what my friend's dad used to call "feminizing." There's a good chance her body is preparing with a bit of stored-up energy.

Anything she interprets as your disapproval of her weight or shape--including food-choice comments that she could take as suggestions that she needs to watch her weight--is planting the seed for a lifelong food disorder (like the 5:41 poster said).

Be an example, love good healthy food, love getting out and exercising. Be like the old moms who used to say, "Too much TV! Go out and play for an hour!" You say she's playing hard, so that's good. Don't serve junk at home, give her lots of opportunities to discover healthy foods she loves. Be the voice against sugar and stuff not because of weight issues, but because it's bad fuel for the body. Sugar breaks tissues down, it dehydrates, it does a LOT of bad-for-us things besides making us fat. Focus on those.

Remember that there are going to be millions of messages in movies, magazines, and pop culture telling your little girl that she's fat, ugly, and worthless unless she looks like a model. Even the diet and fitness articles in women's magazines are generally designed to make women feel dissatisfied with their bodies (so they'll buy more of the diet and beauty products being advertised in the magazine). Make sure the messages you're sending don't sound even remotely like those messages.

Friday, April 21, 2006, 10:57 PM

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A thought on getting her to like healthy food: get her involved in the preparation of meals. If you have room for a garden, grow some veggies - I used to love to eat freshly picked carrots and peas from our garden. Or if you don't have room for larger plants, herb gardens can be grown on a kitchen window sill, and experimenting with fresh herbs is a wonderful way to figure out how to make vegetables taste really good.

Or take her to a local farmer's market and, while she's listening, ask the farmers how they grow their food - is it organic? Sustainable? Do they use pesticides? What's their favorite way to cook it? Do they have suggestions for what herbs and spices mix well with it? Teach her by example what things are important to healthy food. It's also fun to try a new food or too. And farmers markets are often way cheaper and definitely way fresher than grocery stores.

Then, get her involved in the preparation. If she gets to make tonight's salad and gets to choose exactly what goes in it (from your carefully groomed list of acceptable and interesting ingredients, of course), she'll be much more likely to eat it. Find a cookbook that you like (my current favorite - Sundays at Moosewood by the Moosewood collective), and let her pick out and be actively involved in creating a menu every couple of weeks.

If you aren't an experienced cook, maybe you could take a mother-daughter cooking class?

Finally, start gentle conversations with her about how various foods make her feel after she eats them. Help her make the connections between the sugar high-then-crash she gets and the cake she ate an hour ago. Or the connection between having enough energy to keep up walking with you and the balanced breakfast she ate.

Food is fuel, and teaching her now, when she is still so young, that fueling your body should be a pleasurable experience and that you should fuel it with the best tasting, healthiest fuel possible will give her the perfect foundation for a lifetime of healthy eating.

Saturday, April 22, 2006, 12:35 PM

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Wow! These are all great suggestions, thank you all for your comments. I guess I know a lot of this already, but needed your creative ideas to implement. I am going to "digest" all of this and come up with a plan to put some changes in place. Thanks again.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006, 8:28 AM

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Keep us posted!

Good luck.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006, 12:55 PM

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