“His weight is a little on the high side – nothing terrible, but we need to keep an eye on it. You know, watch the snacks.”
The pediatrician’s words weren’t a surprise, but they still stung and crushed my mama heart. Childhood obesity is something I never dreamed I would encounter or deal with as a mom. I was always almost TOO skinny as a child, and always underweight even as an adult until now (I am just now at the ideal weight for my height!) – thanks, global pandemic!
It is something I never wanted my children to have to deal with, and although I know it’s not just those who are overweight who deal with body image issues (I myself have struggled with this), I certainly never wanted my children to face the potential physical health problems that childhood obesity can bring.
Guys, I am sad. I’ll be honest. I feel like this is all my fault – I’m a failure. I don’t want this for my child. I want to fix this NOW.
The doctor didn’t officially tell me my child is obese to my face, but he may as well have. Of course, when I got home, I opened up my laptop, searched Child BMI calculator, and typed in my child’s latest stats. Reading the red words, “This child has obesity,” on my computer felt like a punch in my stomach. I thought of all the things I’ve done wrong. All the things I did to let this happen to my child. All the brownies, cookies, muffins, the justifications that at least he’s eating something.
We’ve become too lenient on a lot of things, perhaps due to parent guilt from the pandemic? Yes, it’s a thing. I allowed myself an evening to wallow in the mom guilt. But I’m not going to let myself stay there. It’s time to become proactive, to fight this potential diagnosis. As a mom, I will always, ALWAYS fight for my kids. I will do whatever it takes to help them be as healthy and happy as possible. Even when it’s hard.
It’s been a long time coming, even if we weren’t facing the news that we are now fighting childhood obesity. With the pandemic, our lives have become more chaotic, and we have struggled to return to a place of routine and structure. Our kids might not say it with their words, but their behavior screams it: they are begging us for rules and organization and balance.
Treats have become far too common, and quick and easy dinners (read: take out or frozen food) have become not just an emergency solution, but the norm. I’ve never been good with meal planning, but if I ever needed an invitation to start, this is it. And I have the perfect reason why: I am doing this for my child and our family.
I’m not an expert on this (so please, guys, feel free to spam the comment section with all the tips!), but here are some simple (hopefully easy-to-implement) ways I plan to tackle childhood obesity:
Put down the cookies.
I plan to make cookies and treats less readily available (for our entire family). This is a hard one for me because let’s face it, I have a MAJOR sweet tooth, but I’ll be honest, I need to cut back, too. Bye-bye, brownie bites and mini muffins. We’re taking you off of our recurring Amazon Prime order. If treats are harder to access, our entire family will be able to make healthier choices. Now, I’m not going to cut out this food group entirely, but I want to focus on making treats more of a special, rare thing, instead of a given part of our daily diet.
Have fruits and veggies crafted into appealing snacks.
I’ve noticed that when fruit is available and offered to my children, they readily accept it and often chow down on it. This is something to capitalize on! We will have bananas out in our fruit basket on the kitchen table, and apples and grapes in the fruit bowl ready to grab. And a revamp of our pantry is in order (i.e. restock the apple sauce and yogurt pouches the kids love, fruit cups, etc).
Prioritize family meals.
We will focus on making healthy meals and offer lots of fruits and veggies along with some guaranteed kid favorites. We’ll take advantage of their preferred fruits and veggies and be sure to include those often in our meals. I want meal time to become a place of discovery – a time where we can experiment with and try new foods. Perhaps, I’ll make a challenge to try one new food or meal a month! In addition, I want to focus on the culture of the meal. We will make sure to have our table cleared of clutter or paperwork, the dishes set, sit down, and talk as a family – as much as a family with two toddlers can! I want our meal time to be a time of refuge and a time of togetherness that we come to love, instead of a big fight or rush to get through in order to get back outside to the trikes and bikes and scooters.
Encourage (even more) physical activity.
Our kids are high energy and very active, so I don’t really have worries there, but in the name of whole-person health, I’d like to take advantage of this and encourage even more physical activity, not just for the kids, but for us parents, too. More family walks and as the kids get older, start to incorporate bike rides, playing soccer in the backyard, basketball at the park, etc. Focusing on specials and activities that the kids love to keep their bodies moving. I want the culture of our family to be adventurous, fun-loving and active. I’ve used the pandemic as an excuse to become complacent, apathetic and stuck in survival mode. It’s time to start thriving again!
Hearing that I need to watch my kid’s weight is definitely not something I ever wanted, but it may just be what I needed to help motivate me towards a healthier lifestyle not just for my little boy, but for all of us.
Have you ever been told your kid is overweight or obese? What words of encouragement or tips do you have?