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fostering a healthy lifestyle or screwing up my kids?


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So today my daughter (3) was sitting at the table with her snack. She got up from the table, went to the kitchen, got my food scale and "weighed" her snack. Then she asked me if it was enough or too much. I couldnt help chuckling because it was just so cute. She will also get on my scale and ask how much she weighs. I always tell her..you are 28 pounds, a nice healthy weight! good job! must be all that cauliflower!

Obviously she is going to see what i am doing and try to imitate me. that's what kids do...my question is...is this healthy or should i be concerned? She isnt worried about losing weight..she's 3 for petes sake. I think this is probably just part of the process of getting healthy but i wondered if anyone else has had something like this happen.

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My mom had one of those balance scales when I was small.  I used to have fun playing with it and putting different things on each end to make it balance.  :)  Plus you can use it to teach her math/numbers.

I don't think it's a negative thing unless she hears you putting yourself down or making a big deal over it.  But since she isnt' hearing anything negative, it seems ok to me.
#22  
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Hi, my name is Heather and I also have a 3 year old daughter.  I do not post very often, but wanted to put my 2 cents worth in.

I have not read everyone's posts, but here's what I think:

It is ok if she weighs her food if you are explaining portion sizes and that eating just the right amount makes you healthy and strong (we never use thin or anything with weight in it, only healthy and strong or big muscles to be strong- especially with milk we say big muscles).

As far as the scale, I put mine away.  If I want to weigh I now do it at the gym or lock the bathroom door and pull it out.  I was not really bothered that she wanted to know how much she weighs, it bothered me that she did it all the time- like me.  It bothered me that on days when I would be sad about my weight, she would in turn look sad when she got on the scale.  I always said to her "Yeah, you weigh 34 pounds, a perfect weight for a strong and perfect girl!!"  (She is very tall-95%, and could actually gain a pound or two and still look perfect).

I just didn't want to put my negative weight crap on her.  So just be careful.  We always talk about food as feul for our bodies to make us "big and strong".  We flex our arms to show how are veggies are helping us be strong and beautiful.  I had very negative influences on me when I was little, hence the need to loose 70 pounds.  But I refuse to put that on her. 

If we teach them now how to properly think of food and their bodies, it will benefit them greatly as adults.  Good luck!!!

The simple thing to remember is this...

 

Knowledge = Power     Education is everything!!!!     

If everything you do is positive and the kids know you're doing it to be healthy then there is nothing wrong with it.    If you ever see your kids being sad or the scale being anything more than "it's fun cause mom does it"  then yes it is time to put it away.  And explain to them why you are putting it away!  

 

"leiela"       Is there any way at all possible that you could pack your kids lunches???  This way they have healthier alternatives and then you'll know what they ate by seeing if they bring stuff back home?    I only ever ate school lunch as a kid 5 times in all of my years.  My mother was wonderful!!  I had a sandwich or bagle sandwich and cut fruit all time.   And then she made dinner.  My issue was that there was never a limit on the homemade cookies and soda!  Everything else was healthy.    And don't feel bad about the after dinner treats.... but how about home make popsicles?  Then you can control the sugar!     Fruit and yogurt thinned with milk and frozen... they will never know they are good for them!  :)     Change up your after dinner treats... and only buy candy once in awhile.   They are eating it because it is there.   There are creative ways to ditch the junk and still spoil the kids with treats!! 

 

#24  
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That's sort of scary. When my kids were little, their biggest concern was about what time theirfavorite cartoon came on. I'm not saying I would feed my kids cake and ice cream for dinner.  But, they never ate candy or drank soda regularly. At Mac Donald's they were more interested in playing on the playground. I don't know how many times I had to tell them to "eat their food." My kids just got use to eating healthy because that is pretty much all they were offered. I sure wasn't a good example!

I think its great that your daughter is picking up on your healthy habits, even if by imitation.

My Mom says to this day that if she could do one thing over, she'd have fed her kids/family healthy and taught us healthy habits.  Its something I had to learn on my own once I became mature and responsible enough to know better!

Whether it turns into an unhealthy obsession is dependant on a lot of things, such as social influences as she grows up.  If you have a healthy outlook on things, she's more likely to, I think.

#26  
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I've been doing Slim Fast since June 2, and my 3y old asks if he can have a milk breakfast too. And I so NO, and he's like WHY? Cuz' Mavrick my doctor told my to take this for a little while, and you can't take it till your doctor tells you to.

LOL, I don't know what to say. It is hard to try to be healthy when you have little kids. I tryed this thing at dinner time. I have a 12y old BIG eater, he's 5'7 130 skinny pounds. ( his shoe size is 12 mens ) Knowing that my son always gets seconds and thirds some times I'm trying to think a head and get all of us intuned with our bodies. So I started a eat what you have and waite 20 mins, and if your still hungry then go get more. Well they all hated it. My hubby would only cut it up. And his negetivity rubbed of on my 3 boys. So it was a fight. So lets just say it only happened a few times.

teenerqm - you could make your kid a smoothie if you're up for it and have the time.  Take a 1/2 cup of nonfat yogurt, 1/2 cup of their favorite juice and blend it up with some of their favorite berries or a banana.  I like mango juice and I toss in a scoop of vanilla protein powder.

I think its cute and your praising her for being "perfect" is great.  Let the kid be a kid and sure she's gonna imitate mom and personally I'd much rather have a youngster imitate mom doing healthy things instead of someone they see on tv ( Britney) or even a bad habit of parents ( smoking, drinking)

 

As someone with an ED, it worries me slightly.

I wouldn't have her weigh foods. Its really healthier to be able to recognize portions and eat intuitively than to weigh and measure your food. A lot of people try to transition into intuitive eating after they reach their weight goals.

I personally think that the weighing should be avoided.

I'm not sure i agree with oomboo2.

I would hope that by teaching her what portion sizes are and by teaching her to eat healthy to fuel her body and to be proud of her body and who she is, she won't develop an ed. I think it would be worse for her to continue to think that a portion of mashed potatoes is a huge scoop or that a portion of chicken is all she can fit on her plate. I want her to listen to when she is hungry and choose good foods when she eats. although do want to mention that i'm not measuring her food nor is she. But, I'm not going to hide in a closet to measure my food. She's going to see it. But it's always with a positive tone which i think is the difference. Plus i don't intend to weigh out my food forever. Once i can recognize a normal portion, i'll put away the scale. I was never taught portion size as a child and look where i am. I was never taught only to eat when hungry or to eat healthy foods. I want her to learn what i didnt. My son too for that matter.

The big thing is, she was playing. She isnt worrying about her weight or how much food she eats. She has also seen how happy i am to be eating healthy foods and when i weigh myself, it's a positive experience, even if i havent lost for the day or week, i'm down from what i was and i'm healthier. Thats what she sees. And as someone above mentioned, it's better that she play act measuring food than smoking and drinking or worse.

 

I agree with what everyone has said. I think you are doing the right thing, and your daughter is lucky to have a mom who is teaching her to grow up with healthy eating habits!

Modeling healthy eating choices and behavior is a good thing. You can do that without letting such a young girl (any child) weigh their food. Let her weigh Legos or toy trains or flower seeds or something besides food. Something they would use scales for in a math segment at preschool or kindergarten.

Children *do* mimic us, and they *are* impressionable, and adults often aren't aware of the messages children are interpreting or internalizing. Your intention may be to impart healthy behaviors, but along with that, you bring your baggage and worries borne out of your past ... not her reality.

Your child may see that mommy weighs and measures her food and herself because she is afraid ... of becoming fat; being fat; of food that will make her fat; that there *are* foods that will make her fat (indeed, all food, if not *weighed and measured*); mommy likes herself more when she is following rules and eats less and weighs less. Ergo, I should probably follow mommy's example, and she says I'm fine and healthy, but I should measure and weigh myself and my food just to make sure I'm "OK" and not "too much" or on the way to "too much."

At at age three, she has no realistic idea what that is. A toddler doesn't have the capacity to understand portion control in a numbers sense. They are naturally intuitive until we impose ideas upon them. They know when they are hungry; when they're full. It's not her job at this age to be in charge of her food. It's your job to offer her healthy choices and ensure that she is eating and living in a healthy and appropriate way for a growing child. The scales are for you; not for her. This is your mealplan/diet, not hers. The scales are appropriate for well-child exams but not daily exercises.

It may be benign now, but it plants a seed for compulsiveness and rigidity and rule-making and fear later on. She may not know why she feels she "should" be careful about her numbers, but it could become an insistent anxiety, especially in a culture comprising eating disorders that range from too much to too little.

She doesn't need a scale to learn healthy eating. *You* may use a scale now, in order to help you follow a specific plan, but it would be preferable ... and normalizing ... for you to not use a food-scale forever. Once you learn a sense of portion control and practice healthy eating, a transition to intuitive eating would be a more wholistic, healthy way to live.

Caveat ... I'm not trying to beat up on you, but I find parents are often surprised to hear what has been going on inside their child's head and heart ... and they often don't find that out until we're dealing with a problem of one sort or another (not necessarily eating).

You have lots of feedback from people coming from a painful and skewed food-history, but I think it's important for parents and role models to remember that the history belongs to the adults and not the kids. Unless we pass it on to them with our worry and compensating comments and behaviors. She is fine. Let her be 3, and remember that the 3-year-old in the house without a parent on a meal-plan isn't weighing food or herself, even "for fun." I think it's dangerous to normalize numbers.

I agree with oomboo its best to remain ignorant at large when it comes to portion size and such when your young and only an issue when you naturally go towards inappropriate portion sizes when you a  kid a portion is what your given , and besides if you praise her for being 28lbs she may start wanting to stay that weight, But its probably just a phase and she'll forget all about it anyway,

 

 

would be interesting to know how many of those with an ED had this kind of experience as children - or if their's was a negative version.

I agree knowledge is power. teaching young ones from a positive place might do them a world of good - perhaps arming them with correct information against the misconceptions of their peers when they get older.
i'm sorry, but it's naive and simplistic to think that "knowledge is power" and that a three or five or ten year old can make the distinction between healthy weight awareness and body obsession.  children don't think like adults.  they are concrete thinkers, which means that they generalize everything.  if losing weight is good for mommy (or for hillary duff or whomever the eight-year-old girls are idolizing these days), it's good for everyone.  by the time they hit kindergarten, they're talking about who's fat and who's skinny.  add to that an early preoccupation with the bathroom scale, and you're inviting trouble. 

This is a really good thread.   My daughter is almost 9 and is overweight - not grossly  but still overweight.  My son who is 6 is normal weight.  They both eat pretty much the same and my daughter has always been the more active one so obviously this has to do with her metabolism.    She is becoming aware of healthy eating and the scale because of me.  However, I never use the word diet just say I'm trying to live healthy.   

I do know she is aware that she is chubby and i know its not from me or my husband but from kids at school. Luckily she has really great self esteem so it does not seem to be a big issue. I know that she has been goign on the scale lately.  I tell her at this point that she doesn't have to lose weight but to try to maintain what she is for a while. I hope this is the right thing to say.  I dont' want her to self conscious about her weight but I also think she needs to learn portion control and healthy eating.  Unfortunately we live a very busy lifestyle (I work full time, both kids are involved in sports) so there are some weeks were we eat take out too much. I'm trying to stop that but when it is necessary try to at least make better choices.

momnomdeplume has several good points but i disagree on a few of them. Kids who have parents that are active, are generally more active, kids who have parents who garden are likely to have 3 year olds who like to pretend to plant flowers, accounts have kids who play with calculators. Kids imitate what they see. I think it would be more damaging to tell her she can't pretend with the scale. Why should the scale be taboo for her? It's just a scale. I understand being aware of what is going on but i really don't see an issue with her playing with the scale one time in a positive way. She was having fun. Perhaps a good many issues with eating comes simply from the taboos attached to eating. it's food, its fuel. It's nothing to be afraid of.

 

Faieriesunshine,

I think you are on the money, honey!  Children are very impressionable, no matter what the subject matter.  All my kids (ages 2, 4 & 6) get on the scale from time to time because they see me get on it.  For them it's just fun to learn to read two-digit numbers.  They know that I am trying to lose weight so that I can be healthy.  I do my best to let them eat what they want, stay active but also have fun and relax when they need to. 

Our motto in the house is "healthy food first"  We don't label food as junk, we just impress upon them what is "healthy".  Their school also teaches that (in Kindergarten) about Go, Slow and Whoa foods.  The actual list of foods is a little dated, but the concept is easily understood by little kids.  Much easier than the new "pyramid" that the gov developed.

With all this said, even though I try to do my best in front of them, I'm struggling on my own and they pick up on that too.  Case in point, the other day we had friends coming over for a playdate that included swimming in the kiddie pool.  My son who is in the 50%ile for weight and 60% for height came downstairs and said "mom I don't want Jimmy to see me in my bathing suit because my stomach is fat".  First of all...his stomach is not fat but he was picking up on things I saw to myself or my husband and friends.  I know that I am extremely self deprecating, but I didn't realize I was saying it infront of the kids.  After reminding him that he just went to the dr. and she said he was perfectly healthy he believed me and the issue was squelched, but the bigger issue is that I have to learn to be good to myself even when I don't think the kids are around because they pick up on EVERYTHING!

this is soo interesting!

Personally I don't see the problem with your child learning proper food preperation. If you were baking a cake you'd weigh everything out, this much flour goes in etc so why is it not okay to say in your meal this much meat goes in, this much vegetables. Personally It's the way I'd go with it, You cannot hide from your kids so better make it fun rather than making stuff taboo'd.

It's really funny that we all wish we'd been taught to eat properly as a child, but some people seem to think teachin a kid to eat properly (and why that wouldnt include portion sizes i dont know) is tantamount to psycologically scarring her?

i definitely agree that it is absurd to think that teaching a child to eat properly, healthy foods, and to understand what a portions is, is the same as scaring her for life and inviting an eating disorder.

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