I talk about food so much it’s a wonder I have time to eat it. Whether it’s a simple “finish your veggies or no dessert” or a more complex explanation of Paleo, I never mind. I enjoy discussing diet nearly as much as I enjoy eating. However, terms like “diet” and “calories” rarely make an appearance, especially if I’m chatting with my mini-me’s. In our house, food is about fuel and fun. We eat healthfully because it fuels our bodies for the sports and activities we are so passionate about (right now, wrestling and running) and (let’s face it) eating is just plain fun when the taste is right. I try not to use food as a reward, but we do celebrate birthdays with a dinner out and cake (or whatever sweet treat the birthday-er requests). I am very conscious of the way my kids view food because I have been playing that tug-o-war for as long as I can remember.
So when I saw the “Diet Mom” Dara-Lynn Weiss on Anderson Live last week, I was a tad torn. I too try to be open and honest with my children about mostly everything, so long as said honesty is age appropriate. So I agree that she spoke openly and honestly with her daughter about obesity; I disagree that calorie counting became a lifestyle instead of simply sticking to a healthy diet. I have yet to read her book (it’s on my to-read list now), so I can’t state with any certainty exactly where my own opinions lie. However, the ensuing debate made me wonder just what ideals and/or hangups I impose upon my own monkeys regarding diet and exercise.
Let’s find out, shall we?
AN INTERVIEW WITH AN 8-YEAR-OLD BEAR (GAL) AND A 7-YEAR-OLD WEREWOLF (GUY)
M: What is your favorite food?
B: Steak…no! Bacon. Steak and bacon.
M: Why do we eat Paleo-friendly foods?
B: So we are healthy and we aren’t fat. *giggles*
W: Because we want to get healthy and strong.
M: Why don’t you want to be fat?
B: Because of the way it looks and feels.
W: Because then I couldn’t play football or do any other sports.
M: How do you think you would feel differently?
B: Uncomfortable. Sad.
W: Very bored and doing nothing like how I can do other stuff like I can do now when I’m not fat.
M: What makes you worry about being fat?
B: Everybody would make fun of me. Some people are really fat and some people make fun of them.
W: Because it would be hard for me to do stuff.
M: Where do you see that happen?
B: I don’t know. But I know people do it.
W: I don’t see that happen.
M: Do you think you’ll stay Paleo when you grow up?
M: Do you think you would continue to eat Paleo if I didn’t make you do it?
W: I don’t know.
M: When you choose food to eat, do you choose it based on “will it make me fat” or “is that healthy?”
M: When you exercise, why do you exercise?
B: To be strong (begins doing pull-ups)
W: To get strong.
M: Do you ever worry about the way you look?
B: No. Not really. I’m skinny.
M: What is more important to you: to be skinny or to be strong?
M: Do you know what calories are?
W: Yes. They make you strong.
So is it innate? Are we as women and girls just destined to be stuck in this rut? I hate to believe that. I downright refuse to believe that. I mean, aside from the boy’s declaration that calories make you strong (although, in his defense, we did discuss nutrients vs empty calories once), he is pretty on target – the target I’d like them both to be on. So where did things go differently with my daughter?
It’s gonna plague me. Did I present something I shouldn’t have? Do I model this thinking? Or is it simply that society is encroaching on my turf? Which would really piss me off and make me wanna kick society’s ass.
It seems I’ve got some serious introspection ahead of me. In the meantime, I will be watching my words very carefully.
This a war I am not willing to lose.