Our doctor suggested to us that someone else in the house participate in this with Allison, and I have. I certainly wouldn’t want my child to develop Type II diabetes at 15 years of age; I just really would not want to go that route. It was important to instill in her that she had to deal with this, because we did not want her developing diabetes down the road. We did not want her having all sorts of health issues.
Doing it together
I’ve started working out recently, and Sandy seems inspired by that. We’re doing it together. She was always looking at her sister, who’s extremely thin, so I think she feels like she’s got a best friend in it now that I’m doing it. She looks at her sister, who will sit and eat a bag of chips and still weighs seventy pounds; she’s over five and a half feet, and she’s nine and a half. Sandy just feels totally foreign to the family sometimes.
I’ve cut down on buying soda, and I’ve tried to buy healthier snacks. My kids will eat vegetables and fruits, and since I work I buy those pre-cut vegetables. They’re more apt to snack on them if they’re there and already prepared. But my family has been affected. My son is very frustrated, very attitude-y. That is what has affected us most, and it carries over into his whole life. He’s constantly down on himself; he doesn’t think he’s good at anything because of the way he looks. And it’s affected my other kids too. They don’t mind not having soda around, but when we go to buy clothes and we can’t find anything to fit him, it bothers them too. Those are the most difficult things for me as a mother– finding clothes that are ‘cool’ but also fit well.
We haven’t been affected badly by the changes, because a lot of us here are overweight. We just look at it more as healthy eating– eating the way we all should eat. It’s educational for us. And we’re all making the change together, because that’s the only way it works. I actually dragged my husband here, making him take a personal day, and told him, “You explain to the dietician why you can’t go on a diet with me.” Until he did that, it really wasn’t helpful for any of us. Now we all come in together, and we all get weighed– that’s the whole key. My son thinks he’s not overweight, and he’s right, but his body is changing. I tell him, “This is the way you’re supposed to eat, not the way just one of us has to eat because she’s overweight.”
A lot of times when it’s just the two of us– when it’s one on one– we’ll talk about her weight. It’s a lot easier that way, because then her sister’s not listening or putting her two cents in. She doesn’t want to hear what her sister has to say, but when we are one on one she is able to take suggestions from me.
Her brother is fifteen and he does not pay much attention to any of this. He has complained that there is never anything good to eat in the house, but I explain to him that even though he is at a point where he doesn’t have to worry about the number of calories he consumes, he should still strive towards eating healthily. Just because he doesn’t need to lose weight doesn’t mean that he should be allowed to eat only junk food.
His siblings have been very supportive, but junk food is a big issue. Our nutritionist tells us specifically what to eat as a treat. We found this ice cream that’s eighty calories, and we go out once a week for it. We try not to have junk in the house, because if you don’t have the bad food around, you don’t eat it as much. We also got a treadmill and the whole family uses it.
Making it a priority
I really talk about it a lot when she’s lost weight– if I see that her pants are looser or she’s happy because she made a good choice. But if she’s in a bad mood about her plan, because maybe she’s around something she can’t eat and she’s mad about it, I choose not to talk to her about it at that moment. We went to a restaurant once when the company didn’t want to eat healthily and Andrea didn’t want to make any good choices. It was upsetting to the whole table! There are times when it’s very difficult. At another point, I had to tell my mother that Andrea couldn’t stay with her for a week of vacation if she was just going to let her sit on the couch and eat unhealthily. I told her, “This is for her health. If you can’t get that through your head, then she can’t stay with you.” Those are the hard things. My mother will come to visit and bring cookies, regular orange juice, sugary cereals, and all of this stuff, and I’m like, “Take this stuff and go put it in your car, because I don’t want it in my house.” The kids really need their parents’ support in this, because the rest of the nation isn’t really that helpful.
But there are certain healthier products that taste better too– you just have to go to the grocery store and find them. I think products with this new artificial sweetener taste better. There are a lot more sugar free products out there than kids realize. And the kids have to really follow the program too. At night I pack her all of her food for lunch the next day. You have to make food and exercise a priority if it doesn’t come naturally, which it doesn’t for me. You just have to do it; I told my husband, “I don’t care if the house falls down– we still have to do this.” People’s lives are so busy that they don’t put an emphasis on this, and that’s what they really need to do.
We never talk about weight. We never say we’re going to try to lose 10 pounds this month, or try to come down a size. Rather we say, “This week we’re going to try to stick to our diets.” I also make it an “us” thing rather than a “her” thing, and I find that helps. It helps her father too, because he’s overweight and needs to lose as well.
I have Type 1 diabetes, so I’m very strict about my weight and my diet. I think that’s why I would overindulge my daughter– because she could indulge and I never could. I needed to learn I wasn’t helping her out by letting her overindulge.
There was a lot of anger in me when I was in high school; I felt a lot of depression. Also, my parents would tell me I was fat and tell me what I should and shouldn’t eat. I found this humiliating. That is just the way that my parents raised me; I don’t fault them for that. But I even had an uncle who taunted me about my weight. My wife and I know better now– we know not to treat our child like that. We are trying to go off the lessons that I had to endure as child, and we are doing our best so that Greg will not have to endure that in any way, shape, or form.