Not on my watch. I’m going to step-up on my soapbox for a few minutes this morning. Those of you who have known me for more than five years, know I have battled my weight my entire life. I’ve gained and lost 100 lbs…twice. I’ve done every weight loss intervention imaginable. Every. Single. One. Being overweight is a very painful experience for everyone, but especially for a child and teenager.
I remember when my daughter was a year old and her pediatrician said “I want you to imagine a life where she never eats a McDonald’s french fry.” At the time, I was morbidly obese and devastated that he said something like that to me. I took it very personally and felt as if he was slamming my parenting skills. Later, I learned that he had a daughter who was an obese adult and he carried a lot of guilt with him because even as a pediatrician, he failed to guide her in the right direction from a health standpoint. He was subtly telling me you have control at this point in her life…don’t let it happen under your watch.
So, when my daughter was two, I vowed that under my watch, I would never allow that to happen to her. From a DNA perspective, she will always have a propensity to be obese. I can’t control that aspect of her life, but there are things I can control. I can control what groceries I purchase and I can control where and what we eat.
My daughter doesn’t like everything I purchase for her to eat, but I do not want her to face the emotional pain of being obese or the physical ramifications of being obese and it certainly isn’t going to happen on my watch. In our house, if you don’t like the healthy choices made available to you, then you go hungry. Nine times out of ten, she might fuss a bit and THEN pick a healthy choice. I don’t stock my freezer or pantry with pre-processed foods. I keep yogurts, fruits, and healthy snacks available 24/7. I’d rather she go hungry than fill her body with fat, sugars, and sodium. We are to the point now, where she actually asks for the healthier alternative when we are grocery shopping…that’s a result of ME, doing MY JOB as her parent.
I love to eat just like the next person (probably more!), and frankly I can sit here and salivate just at the thought of several different foods. However, I refuse to subject my daughter to a lifetime of obesity…at least not under my watch. She may make different choices when she’s an adult, but as of right now, she’s a child, living in MY home, and it is MY responsibility to keep her healthy. No, I’m not making her run laps, nor do I have her in some crazy boot camp for children. I’m just focusing on eating healthy.
Some may think it takes time and effort to eat healthy…well, duh. But quite frankly, it takes time and effort to die of obesity, too. I regularly work 11-12 hour days, I’m a single parent, and still manage not to stock my freezer with crap. Would it be easier to eat Whataburger every night? To have frozen pizza every night? To eat mac and cheese every night? Heck, yes. Would it be the right thing to do? Heck, no. All it takes is some planning before you go to the grocery store and some planning concerning meals for the week. It is totally doable. Excuses are just excuses.
Everything I do for my health (medical interventions, gastric bypass, Insanity, Shakeology, yoga, pilates, weight lifting, working out six days a week, drinking only water, total bread elimination, etc.) is ALL for my daughter. When I signed up for personal training a few months ago to learn better fitness techniques, I was asked what my motivation was…my answer: MY DAUGHTER. It didn’t have anything to with my vanity. I do all of this to set a good example for her. She may not follow my lead immediately, but it does make a difference, I can see it already. Not only does it limit her exposure to the junk food, it also sets a good example for healthy eating.
I’d like nothing more than to have a chocolate Pop-Tart (yum!) and a bowl of peanut butter Captain Crunch for breakfast this morning, but I’m having plain oatmeal with Stevia. What is my daughter eating? Is she fussing because she doesn’t have Pop-Tarts and waffles? No, she is happily eating a hardboiled egg with grapes. She’d rather have a donut…believe me…BUT NOT ON MY WATCH. Do I let her have treats from time to time? Sure…she’s a kid. But do I fill my pantry, fridge, and freezer with crap? Heck no. She is my responsibility and mine alone. Again, NOT ON MY WATCH.
I can only assume that this essay will ruffle some feathers…but at the very least, I hope it makes some people stop and think about the obesity epidemic our country is facing and what you as a parent can do to instill better health habits in your child BEFORE the poor habits are engrained. What happens between now and the time they leave your home is your responsibility.
Author: Angela K.Gomez, Ph.D., Certified Bariatric Educator
Facebook: Chasing Health and Wellness Group