"Are you an apple, a pear, or fat all over?"
-- Dr. Oz in a preview for an upcoming episode
While walking through the isles of my local grocery store, collecting my usual foodstuffs, I overheard an interesting conversation between a mother and her small child. This kid must have been about five years old, if that. As I was reaching for my wife's soy milk (and my almond milk), I saw him look up at his mom and ask a simple question, "Why do we have to be on the South Beach diet again? . . . I don't like it." I'm not sure if his mom caught a smile flash across my face, but she quickly said, "Oh you aren't on it, just me!" She hurried away, seemingly embarrassed, and I kept on shopping, quite a bit more amused than I previously was.
Two things struck me as funny during this exchange: First, how does a five-year old even have dieting on his radar? The kid was a skinny little thing who looked like a normal, healthy, active little guy. Teaching good nutritional habits early is great, and I think it should be an essential part of the education system from a very early age, but knowing what the South Beach diet is? I mean, come on. Second, and I am not sure if it was just how he said it, but he used the word again . . . insinuating that he has been through the yo-yo dieting routine before. Isn't five years old a little early to have already been on and off (and able to remember) a diet plan? Assuming that the mother's comment holds true and that she was the only one in the house following the diet and there wouldn't be any spill over to anyone else's food choices, which I somehow find unlikely, she must be a miserable complainer during the first two weeks where there are zero carbs allowed. There must be enough disturbance to the norm that the kid associated South Beach with something negative and not fun. Maybe I am just wildly speculating . . . but either way, I find it amusing and enlightening.
Interactions like this make me wonder about potential long-term effects on the eating habits of children who are impacted by parental perennial yo-yo dieting. Do they grow up and emulate their parents, bouncing around from one diet fad to the next, struggling to find a healthy equilibrium as they experiment with all-protein diets and no-carb diets and everything in between? Or do they grow up with a rebellious disregard for healthy foods, opting for the comfortable, unhealthy things that are convenient? That would be an interesting albeit nearly impossible study to conduct I suppose, but the results would be fascinating.
Now imagine removing the concept of dieting from our social consciousness. Instead it would be assumed that people ate healthy, well-balanced meals that are both nutritiously sound and tasty. The hours of television between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. would get pretty boring without that endless stream of "doctor" shows giving health advice most often related to weight loss and weight-related disease information. Their constant promotion of the diet industrial complex isn't healthy on the psyche of any impressionable person. Perhaps I am illustrating an extreme scenario here, but hey, if it saves one little guy the pain and suffering that is the yo-yo diet cycle, I'm all for it. Lets move away from the negative reductionist methodology of dieting, and instead try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Anyways, perhaps a little bit of a rant going on here, but what it comes down to is getting kids set up with a positive relationship with food, one that isn't going to give them challenges for the rest of their life. If you are interested in this topic, read this article. I found it pretty interesting.Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kheelcenter/
We’ll also teach our kids to be smart, driven, motivated individuals. Utopia is just around the corner. Heaven on Earth is no less than 20 years away, clearly. All kids would follow those lessons flawlessly and there is no problem or shortcoming to this plan.
Interesting food for thought, if you’ll pardon the pun. I read the article you linked, too; it had some pretty surprising bits of information (especially point 1). On a related note, I recently quit using the MyFitnessPal app. It helped me get a better understanding of my relationship with food, and I did lose a few pounds after the first couple of weeks. BUT, after over two months of using it faithfully, I started to regularly exceed my calorie limit and ended up regaining the weight I had lost. Why? Because I was constantly thinking about food, which made me think I was always hungry, which in turn made it really hard to not eat more often. Since quitting, I’m back to eating a normal amount, I’m not preoccupied with dieting, and I’m starting to shed the pounds I regained. Have any other 2FNS-ers had this reaction to such apps?
I use it on and off. I was bouncing back and forth between being really close to my heaviest and weighing something more like what I was used to (though I wasn’t entirely happy with that, either), and, looking back, I definitely think I was obsessing and ended up eating way more than necessary. I’ve started trying to just not eat as much crappy food. (Simple, right?!) Still trying to figure out a system that will work, but MyFitnessPal can have its moments. I learned that salads can pack in a lot of calories with all the extra stuff you put on it, even if that extra stuff is healthy. So I at least came away from it learning something that will help me in the future: budgeting!
It is really is a hard line to tip-toe, that of being aware of what you eat, and obsessing about every detail. Ellie and I used to use an app called NOOM which let you approximate your daily intake . . . it took a lot of the time-consuming annoyance of food logging out. . . that was nice.
I really think keeping track of calories is a great way for people who have no idea what an appropriate amount of food is . . . but for others like you who are already on a good track, I could definitely see it being an unnecessary burden that could end up being a negative.
Thanks for sharing your experience!
Hmm. Maybe I’ll look into NOOM. I could benefit from /some/ accountability, but I was borderline obsessed for a while with MyFitnessPal. Thanks!
My doctor recommends tracking intake/calories three times a week to stay on track without devoting too much time and effort.
I need to count every day to lose weight because I will think about food no matter what, and I will easily break even for the day rather than have a calorie deficit if left to my own devices.
Ok, I confess. I had you guys on the Freifhoffer Thrift Store Diet when you were kids. But I was consistent. I never strayed from it.
We still have some in our fridge from the race weekend . . . I feel like I am letting you down!
Children should not have to worry about diets. I see being on a diet as a corrective measure back to long term equilibrium for adults. Children are still growing.
I hope that the mother was telling the truth. I’ve heard too many bad stories about how kids treat their children. I do agree that kids should get good eating habits early on, but dieting them is a horrible thing to do…