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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 18, 2009

Parenting Dilemma: Kids and Weight

By Mark Sisson
75 Comments

Some of us have kids who seem to naturally flock to sports and physical activity. And while they might not resist every food temptation typical for their age group, they somehow pull together a pretty solid diet. Still others of us have children who aren’t necessarily the best eaters or exercisers but who seem (for now) more or less immune to the weight gain that might inspire better habits. Finally, some of us parent kids who truly struggle with weight. And even while poor food choices and low activity levels clearly contribute to most children’s problems, occasionally there are kids who, despite good habits, continue the battle into adulthood.

For our part, as parents, we see both sides. We worry for our kids’ health. We hope for their social acceptance even as we encourage them not to depend on it. We want them to take good care of their bodies, enjoy the physical energy and potential of youth. We want them to be and feel their best. Meanwhile, we want them to know they’re amazing, beautiful and beloved just the way they are. We know what we want to do, how we want them to feel, but then there’s the sticky reality of it. What’s the right message exactly? How do we figure the perfect balance in communicating and cultivating all our good intentions for our kids’ health?

A New York Times article, “Parenting and Food: Eat Your Peas. Or Don’t. Whatever.”, picks up this dicey parenting issue. It’s a discussion of the blurry lines between how to foster healthy habits without inhibiting a healthy self-concept. As any parent (or person who has any recollection of the awkward adolescent years) knows, taking on this issue can involve navigating an emotional mine field. One wrong move, and you face an explosion of tempers, guilt, and other psychological shrapnel. The long-term stakes, we learn, are high. Research has shown that fathers’ communication about and even “attention to” their daughters’ weight can raise their “risk of eating disorders.” Children of parents who promoted dieting “were significantly more likely to remain overweight than those whose parents didn’t.”

Frank Bruni, the author of both the Times article and recent memoir Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater, illustrates the precarious landscape with stories of hesitant parents attempting their best acrobatic acts. He gives us stories of parents who’ve diligently striven for “balanced meals and restrained portions.” On the other hand, Bruni gives us another angle of parental concern, a resistance to what some parents see as a tendency toward broader deprivation – a missing the forest through the trees if you will. As one mother put it, she wants to instill healthy habits but not deny her daughter the basic “psychological pleasures that come from sitting at a table and enjoying a meal.”

Bruni’s article ends by rounding up several points of expert consensus. Most are basic and commonsensical. First, of course, he says parents should model healthy eating and exercise habits. It’s the old “Do what I do, not what I say” principle. Other effectual strategies include stocking the house with healthy options and planning dinners with homemade fare. Finally, he says with a personal note, it’s important to find a substitute “activity” that can provide a “similar emotional gratification” children may have previously associated with food.

I found Bruni’s article engaging, relevant and thought-provoking. It got the Worker Bees and I talking. We had a slew of questions but few clear answers. (Isn’t that always the case in parenting though?) What do kids need and want to hear? How do parents inspire the best balance between emotional self-acceptance and physical self-investment? How much should we as parents demonstrate and divulge of our own struggles exactly?

I thought I’d take up the conversation here with you all. I’ll throw out a few thoughts, and I hope you’ll add yours to the discussion.

Clean up the family diet and environment.

A physiological point first… Parents want to help their kids make good food choices and get plenty of physical activity. However, there’s another often missed piece to the puzzle. The increasing presence of toxins in our everyday environment and food supply can contribute to a myriad of health problems, including weight issues. Toxins, particularly in children, can disrupt basic hormonal balance. This disturbance can throw off the metabolic processes responsible for energy conversion and, particularly in tandem with a poor diet, boost fat storage. It’s a good excuse for explaining why a “good diet” entails more than a menu: it means fostering an educated and thoughtful mindset toward eating and health.

Be honest (first with yourself) about your relationship with food and/or your physical self-image.

Perhaps having lived a similar experience, we can identify on some level with our kids. If we were overweight once upon a time, we can understand what it’s like to struggle with weight as a child/teenager. Yet, once in a while we have to step back and ask ourselves if our level of concern has more to do with our child or our own past? In short, are we helping or projecting – or some combination of the two? Maybe we’re still struggling with weight or other body image issues. Regardless of how we approach our health and what priorities we focus on, our children are undeniable witnesses to our lives. They see our daily endeavors, and they undeniably pick up on our self-talk. What messages are we sending (consciously and unconsciously)?

If your child is old enough, have a heart-to-heart about experiences with health, body image and weight. Divulge honestly – but selectively. You can show your kids you identify without burdening them. Most importantly, talk about where you get your sense of perspective. What guides you, motivates you and grounds you day to day? What have you learned that you wish you knew earlier in your life? What do you hope they enjoy about living a healthy life and taking care of themselves?

Talk about what health really means.

It’s pretty easy for kids to grow up not really having a clear understanding of health. Hey, most adults don’t get it either. If I’m not sick, I must be healthy, right? Health as a concept can be a random swirl of disconnected images for kids: food pyramids, sweaty gyms, sports icons, a salad bar. How do they put it together? What does it mean to be healthy? To feel healthy?

In the vast array of images and messages out there, kids have to be pretty thrown by the paradoxical shape of it all. On the one hand, there’s infinite fun to be had in downing every variety of fast food, sodas, energy drinks, chips and other snack abominations (just look at the youth-centered commercials). On the other, there are tabloid articles about celebrity crash diets and stories of their three hour a day workout routines. Our culture encourages either disregarding or punishing the body – making a joke of physical health or exercising/depriving ourselves into the ground. The result? As a culture we don’t have the most comfortable relationships with our bodies. It’s little surprise that many of our kids absorb this mindset.

Parents, unfortunately, have a lot of ground to fill in. Find a chance to talk about what health means to you personally. How did you come to learn about healthy eating? Why do you make the choices you do? What gets you motivated to stay active, to keep your stress under control? When do you feel the best physically? Ask them what makes them feel healthy, strong and rejuvenated? Is there a way you can help support those experiences (e.g. emotional support or family activities)? Let it be an open and continuing conversation. Let it be a catalyst for healthy changes and experimentation. Let it be a challenge to your family to play more, cook more, do more, get out more.

Talk about what living really means.

This website is all about health, yes. Nonetheless, I put health squarely into a large picture of happiness and vitality. Too often the messages kids get come off as instructive but less than relevant and inspiring. In the midst of navigating the social scene, figuring out an identity, and finding their way through school and other responsibilities, dry details can quickly fall on deaf ears. Consider a different angle. We hear a lot of success stories from people who have overcome serious health issues, dropped weight that they’d wanted to lose for years (or decades), and/or turned around their lifestyle to gain a whole new sense of energy in their lives. A common thread in so many of their accounts is a sense of self-investment. Whether a serious medical scare that made them realize how precious (and endangered) their lives were or the culmination of a deep soul-searching, something sparked a novel sense of ownership. Their health mattered more because they’d chosen to see it and value it in a new way.

Maybe talking to kids about real health ultimately means talking about life. Owning your health necessitates – on some level – knowing and respecting yourself. It’s a self-commitment after all. The more self-confidence and self-respect we have, the more likely we are to invest in ourselves.

For kids who struggle with weight and body image, too often the goal is outside themselves, remote and elusive. How can the goal finally be authentically personal? What does it mean to dig down and learn to tune out the noise in life – the social clamor, the media messages? What’s there to listen to once you reach the other side of the commotion? How, finally, do they see themselves there? What does their vision of a healthy and happy life look like from that vantage point? Kids, like the rest of us, shape their health a step at a time. Maybe a parent’s best role is to help them start down their own path.

And now…let me know what you think. What should kids hear growing up? How can a parent walk the line to empower their kids’ overall health and well-being? How do we avoid the traps that either alienate or enable? I look forward to reading your thoughts. Thanks for reading.

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75 Comments on "Parenting Dilemma: Kids and Weight"

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emmcubed
emmcubed
6 years 10 months ago

I think Mark planted a listening device in my home, has been monitoring our progress and issues, and has been turning that intelligence into these last few posts.

Just had a conversation with my twelve-year-old son about this toda

emmcubed
emmcubed
6 years 10 months ago
I think Mark planted a listening device in my home, has been monitoring our progress and issues, and has been turning that intelligence into these last few posts. Just had a conversation with my twelve-year-old son about this today. Wii Fit still tells him he’s “Overweight”. This was enough to drop his mood before going to school and is characteristic of how his self image has been suffering lately as my wife and I drop weight by going primal. We reminded him that he’s still growing and that he doesn’t need to feel guilty, per se, but instead be conscious… Read more »
emmcubed
emmcubed
6 years 10 months ago

Sorry for the double post. Darn wifi.

Martin
6 years 10 months ago

Hilarious.

All joking aside, this is an extremely important post. Teaching the children healthy eating habits is very high up on the list, as they will keep habits learned young throughout their lives.

The ability of a child to stay healthy is definitely a primal concern for many parents.

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[…] Original post by Mark Sisson […]

stephanie vincent
6 years 10 months ago
I have gone over this issue, time and time again in my head. What did my parents do wrong? What could they have done differently? (my weight issues started early, I wore womens sizes in fourth grade and by 7th grade i weighed more than 300lbs.) Here is What i think they did wrong (They did the VERY BEST they were able to do) My parents not only modeled bad eating habits, but even more problimatic they modeled negative self images. The were boundary issues, i was more like a third adult than a child and learned to “worry” about… Read more »
Josh Roman
Josh Roman
6 years 10 months ago

Big thumbs up, Stephanie.

mrd232
6 years 10 months ago

A huge thumbs up on this, too.

Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman
6 years 10 months ago
Really great post, Mark. It’s so hard to walk the fine line: …between restriction and allowing too many unhealthy foods. My mother never forced us to eat a health-food-only diet but also required we eat well-balanced meals. What that means is we were allowed a sweet after dinner, but still had to eat well the rest of the day. I know plenty of people who grew up in a house where food choices were restricted for health reasons, and they rebelled as soon as they could buy their own fast food (not to mention in college…). Then again, there are… Read more »
smc2009
smc2009
6 years 10 months ago

Argh! This conversation makes me nuts! Make sure you and your kids get plenty of exercise, walk or ride your bikes to school. Pack their lunches. Monitor their spending so they can’t buy unhealthy snacks! Get rid of the TV altogether. Put them in sports, swim lessons, Ballroom Dancing…who cares, anything they might like if they are not inclined toward sports. Turn off the Wii and go for a hike. You, the parents, are in charge!

Ross
Ross
6 years 10 months ago
Not that being active isn’t a good idea, but diet and not exercise dictates weight and diet is the critical first step to overall health. Obviously we can’t get to our peak of health without healthy activity, but we can’t even get started on a path to health without a healthy diet. Exercise can do some repartitioning from fat to muscle, but if the kids are eating low-fat whole grain crap and incipient type II diabetics as a result, it won’t matter if the TV is unplugged or where they spend their time. They won’t enjoy sports or other activities… Read more »
Ross
Ross
6 years 10 months ago
Oh, and upon re-reading, I realize what it really is that I disagree with: your approach is way, waaaay too controlling. My sister likes to parent that way and is in a constant war of wills with her oldest. Not for me. The other choices of parenting styles aren’t limited to total control or complete permissiveness or negotiation and wheedling. We prohibit nothing, but don’t serve anything but healthy, whole, high-fat foods at our table. At day care, the youngest eats what she likes of what is served (she already dislikes cheerios for some wonderful reason). The older kids eat… Read more »
alice
alice
6 years 10 months ago
This is a really sensitive issue for me. I come from a household with a very “health-conscious” mother, and I was not born with her naturally thin body type. I was extremely active, averaging about 20 hours of dance per week, plus school day sports, but even at 12, my shape was entirely different from hers. Long, long, long story short, I am approaching the one year anniversary of being mostly “clean” from a debilitating stretch of four years with a very active eating disorder. A key, key trigger for me were my mother’s comments, which were never overtly upsetting.… Read more »
Andrea
Andrea
6 years 10 months ago

I’m so sorry, Alice. You are right the “subtle hints and healthy suggestions” are no help.

James Gordon
6 years 10 months ago

I echo the last post. The very fact that you have a Wii Fit in the house says a lot.

Check out this video. It’s funny because it’s so accurate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iYBmAVuBns

emmcubed
emmcubed
6 years 10 months ago
I’m not sure I understand what exactly us having a Wii Fit says other than “we like to play games sometimes”. Please enlighten me as to what else it might be communicating. If I’m not mistaken, Mark has written before about playing Guitar Hero with his son. Believe me, the Wii Fit was purchased a year and a half ago and I just discovered this blog this past summer. It is by no means a part of our health regimen. Seems like a couple of you misunderstood my post to mean that I do not encourage my son to be… Read more »
Daniel Merk
6 years 10 months ago
My wife and I are becoming parents. Years we never thought we’d be in this situation and here we are. Becoming fit (er) and eating a 90% primal diet has helped us stay healthy this year, fight off some potentially normal flus and colds and caused us to understand that food should not come from a package with logos. Now the dilemma is going to be nurturing a child to follow these same footprints. I will struggle, and fail, but I know that I will do my best. Help the child make good decisions in the pantry and during exercise.… Read more »
Daniel Merk
6 years 10 months ago

Correction: “We both agree that the child’s physical appearance will not be an issue, but we will make what they put into their bodies a very big one.”

mrd232
6 years 10 months ago
If you constantly monitor your kids and harp on them, you’re about to accomplish the opposite of what you desire. Seriously. Take it from this former chubby kid. Here’s some things parents should NOT do: 1. Tack a photo of a model on the fridge as an “ideal” of what to look like and remind you not to eat that snackie in the fridge. 2. Force kids to go out for sports they don’t enjoy just because it’s a lot of “running around and calorie burning.” If there’s anything more insulting to a chubby kid, it’s being the chubby kid… Read more »
Gigi
Gigi
6 years 10 months ago

Wow, that was really crazy! I’m sorry for what you went through. It sounds like they started to change, I hope!

mrd232
6 years 10 months ago

They’re awesome now that I no longer live with them 😉

Dana
Dana
6 years 10 months ago
Thank you for a wonderful article – please continue to cover this incredibly important side of health and fitness. We are Americans in Denmark and witness to a culture with fabulous health habits. Over 1/3 of the Danes in our city ride their bikes to work! I cup my hand to my ear around 2:30 every afternoon to hear the nation crunching apples in unison. Favorite lunchbox fillers are dark rye bread with fish spreads and raw veggies. Where kids gather for sporting events or dance exhibitions – fruit is served as a snack. And, may I add, the price… Read more »
Darrin Walton
6 years 10 months ago
Great and timely post Mark! We really need this sort of open forum to talk it out and get it sort of rolling around in our heads to figure out what is the best way to convey what we adults know and what the children will ultimately hear and actually do. I work with children everyday and I will tell you and everyone that wants to listen that a child will more likely follow what they SEE over what they are told hands down. Not that they will not listen it is more a case of not really understanding. Best… Read more »
PaleoMum
6 years 10 months ago
I’m with Gary Taubes on this. Overeating is not a moral issue, it’s a physiological issue caused by excess carb consumption. If your kids grow taller, it’s not because they’ve overeaten; they have been prompted to eat more by growth hormone. Similarly, if they grow fat, it’s not “because” they have overeaten; their bodies have driven them to “overeat” due to excess insulin. If you view it in this way, you can remove all the emotional connotations. I feed my kids primal food and I truly believe they won’t get overweight, no matter how many huge plates of lamb chops… Read more »
CFS
CFS
6 years 10 months ago

This is also what I think. Everyone who eats grains and sugar regularly will develop the metabolic syndrome. Some get overweight, others have high blood pressure or diabetes or gout, but it’s all physiological with a genetic basis. Just feed the kids proper food and things will take care of themselves.

Andrea
Andrea
6 years 10 months ago

Yes!

Dana
Dana
6 years 10 months ago
Yep. Totally agreed. Back in the mid-1900s they knew that most of the food you eat, fats and carbs in particular, go straight to your adipose tissue after you eat, and then is re-released as fatty acids between meals as you need the energy. What happens with fat people is our insulin remains elevated and keeps that stuff locked up, so we go around hungry all the time. I wish I’d known about all this stuff with respect to children’s nutritional needs when I had mine. I was close to the knowledge with child #2 but not close enough. I… Read more »
Jessica
Jessica
6 years 10 months ago
I was born into a healthy lifestyle. My mother fed us well and she ate well. Of course, as a teenager and young adult, I realized candy, soda and other sugary things tasted great. I never had weight issues until I went to college. I “thought” I was eating well and couldn’t figure out why I was gaining weight. I lost 20lbs after college by exercising more and watching my diet. I have kept that weight off for about 10 years now. Last year I was diagnosed with a gluten allergy. So, my diet has been changed for the better.… Read more »
ginny
ginny
6 years 10 months ago
I love your articles… I found your website a couple of months ago…I have made some of your delicious meat dishes..coconut pancakes, etc. My family loves to eat and I love to cook. My interest in this article about teaching our children was very pertinent as I have 12 children. Most are grown and on their own, but I do have 3 teenagers at home still. My 18 year old daughter was diagnosed with type one diabaetes almost a year ago… it is a challenge to help her eat healty foods so as not to raise her blood sugars.( your… Read more »
Mrs Evil Genius
6 years 10 months ago
Add me to the “this drives me nuts” camp. I am convinced that childhood obesity begins in infancy and is ENTIRELY the fault of the parent. We need, as a nation of parents, nip in the bud NOT play catch up when the kid is in middle school. Several ppl gave excellent responses (Stephanie Vincent and MRD232 especially) but mothers need to start AT BIRTH with good habits, beginning with breastfeeding and introducing veggies rather than punking out with fruits (“but he loves applesauce!” no bloody wonder! It’s almost pure sugar!). These moms who say “She’ll only eat mac and… Read more »
Daniel Merk
6 years 10 months ago

You are so correct about this. Drives me nuts watching friends tell me its ok to feed KraPt foods to their kids.

Jamie
Jamie
6 years 10 months ago

You go girl! 🙂 Good job.

MariaNYC
MariaNYC
6 years 10 months ago
I completely agree. I’m tired of people making excuses, it’s time to start taking responsibility for our decisions and actions. Growing up, we had basically no processed food (though we did have grains) and I was definitely not allowed to eat candy! At 25 now, I find my sweet tooth is almost non-existent, and I am one of the few people I know who prefers a steak to dessert. Of course it is difficult to derive causation from this N of 1 “experiment,” but I am sure the foundation of eating real food given to me by my family growing… Read more »
Jenny
Jenny
6 years 10 months ago
I just have to point out that there are kids who will starve themselves. It’s a pretty rare disorder, but it’s out there. We have an 11-year old who literally has panic attacks if you put an unfamiliar or non-preferred food in front of him. He would rather not eat at all, and sometimes goes entire days without eating. He was a good eater until he was about 2 1/2. He got really sick with a roto-virus and after that, the number of foods that he would eat got smaller and smaller. This is a daily struggle for us. It’s… Read more »
Jamie
Jamie
6 years 10 months ago

It’s not that bad at my house, but I fear it’s getting there. My son is very picky and there’s a lot of anxiety at dinner time. I’ve had to adopt the “eat it or not, whatever” attitude but the consequences to not eating his meal are no food the rest of the night and no electronic entertainment. It doesn’t seem to matter to him, but at least I limit his access to video games this way.

Jill C.
Jill C.
4 years 9 months ago
I have a 4.5 year old that has a similar reaction to non-preferred foods, he’s classified as a problem feeder and we’re working with an OT to help him. I worry about this constantly, we model good eating habits, eat fresh, local varied foods, and our other child does too. We attend Crossfit (with the kids in kid care, do other healthy activities as a family) But the 4.5 yr old just freaks out about food, even though he was breastfed and fed varied fresh baby foods. He started dropping foods from his diet at about 2 years and it… Read more »
Ella
Ella
3 years 4 months ago

I hope your all or nothing approach doesn’t come back and bite you in the future! I have 3 children, all fed the same home cooked meals and they all look different. No one’s perfect and I hope you are less ‘ranty’ in person when faced with *gasp* with “pale, flabby, out of breath classmates.” I was one and I didn’t deserve any less respect than anyone else.

Julianne
6 years 10 months ago
I have 2 kids boy 11 and girl 13. Getting the balance between eating well, educating them and not making them weird about food or bodies is a challenge. Even though I’m very paleo – my kids aren’t. However they eat very little bread and cereal. I’ve not restricted it as such – just feed them other things. But I also refuse to buy bad food like sodas and highly processed cereals. I home bake cookies using better ingredients so they are not entirely derpived. They know they feel better with protein, and it keeps their blood sugar stable. I… Read more »
Erica
Erica
6 years 10 months ago

Thanks for your comments, Julianne. Although my 8 year old daughter is generally a rounded eater, there are some things she stubbornly refuses to even try. I am going to incorporate the 1 tsp rule. Thanks for sharing this!

Falk
Falk
6 years 10 months ago

Great post but no matter how many times I say the cod liver oil tastes good my 11 yo daughter says no way dad!(not that I blame her the stuff tastes like s@#t!)

On the plus side she now loves going to crossfit with me and has been talking about going skiing this winter since late august!

Extreme Fitness Results
6 years 10 months ago
I taught at a middle school in an impoverished neighborhood, and came to believe that a large part of childhood obesity and weight problems stems from economic as well as other factors. The difference in price between organic/pasture fed/etc food and cheap, genetically modified crap can be huge. And if you’re a single mother working two jobs with three kids and little time or cash, suddenly buying them a Happy Meal from the local McDonald’s seems like an attractive option. Factor in the poor quality of lunch food at schools in general (generally awful stuff), and it’s easy to see… Read more »
Sheri
Sheri
6 years 10 months ago
As the mom of a 21 month old I can’t agree enough with play more, cook more, do more, and get out more! My boy is hella active, but not hyper. At 21 months he’s pedaling his quad-cycle down the sidewalks about a mile and a half, and then if we aren’t riding in the dark maybe some dirt digging time outside, mucking paddocks, and feeding animals. It isn’t always fun to get out in the rainy Pacific Northwest, but it is so important. When we can’t, I try and include him in helping me do other things around the… Read more »
Becky
Becky
6 years 10 months ago

We have the opposite problem with our grandsons. It is very difficult to get them to eat. Sometimes it becomes a challenge of wills. Our daughter does get them to eat vitamins and tries to get them to take a childs omega 3 supplement but the problem of getting them to eat enough continues. They are twins that are 11 this year. Any suggestions?

MariaNYC
MariaNYC
6 years 10 months ago

Are they clinically undernourished?

Hiit Mama - Meredith
6 years 10 months ago
This subject is one of the main topics on my own blog. I chaulk it up to socialization. Most of the kids I know don’t consider any real foods treats. Why? They were taught that. I let my son choose any “treat” he wants at the market – it just so happens that those treats are in the produce section. Today he was so excited about his pomegranate. If you don’t eat, enjoy and SHARE real Primal foods, then your kids won’t eat them either. Are kids born believing that HI-C is real fruit? That crackers, chips and soda are… Read more »
Mike
Mike
6 years 10 months ago
I raised two boys to eat healthy and be physically active. I think you can sum up the best advice by saying: Walk the talk and bring them along”. I don’t like how many modern parent push kids into activities while they themselves run around accommodating it all while neglecting themselves and setting an example of how to let yourself go when you get older. You teach kids that being active is for kids. Instead I tried to stay active and as I learned about healthy eating incorporated what I learned. All the while I spent time with my kids… Read more »
Baglady
Baglady
6 years 10 months ago
This article was awesome. I am a mother of two grown children and I can tell you from experience that our children become us. I believe they learn emotion from there mothers before birth. IMO, if the mother doesn’t have self esteem and confidence then most likely the child will not either. I believe it is learned. It has taken me years to have self confidence, once I did my children started to learn to like them selves. They learn everything from us, includeing what foods to like and all. I am trying to not get mad here cause I… Read more »
dennis
dennis
6 years 10 months ago
Get article Mark. I will say that I have my kids “TRY” new foods. I give them the opportunity and tell them to at least try it and then if you don’t like it fine. Don’t be afraid to try because life is and adventure and trying new foods can be fun. My kids eat pretty healthy for the most part. I find it very funny that their friends don’t eat nearly or for that matter close to as good as they do. Primarily, meats (lean) lot’s of chicken breast and ground turkey, lean beef and veggies. We have dark… Read more »
MariaNYC
MariaNYC
6 years 10 months ago

That breakfast is pure sugar. Where’s the protein and fat?

Rana
Rana
6 years 10 months ago

I would imagine it’s in the milk that goes on the cereal (if it’s cold cereal, that is).

Karen
6 years 10 months ago
Fabulous Post. I love the photograph as well! Classic. One related topic that I’d love to discuss is specifically the idea that so many adults have “immature taste buds”. You may have hit upon this before but i think it’s a really pertinent topic. As infants, we are born with many more taste buds than we have as adults. Apparently, we evolved this way since Grok’s kids walked in the forests foraging food. If it was bitter or sour, it was more likely to be poisonous and they’d spit it out. It was a protective mechanism for survival. This is… Read more »
Lori
Lori
6 years 10 months ago
Definitely lead by example, but don’t deprive. Our kids are hugely influenced by others at school and to deprive them you end up like me. My mom allowed no “junk” in the house and when college came, the freshman 15 was an understatement. I did not need to see her on a diet and barely eating each day. I needed what I’m giving my kids: family meals as often as possible. We model healthy eating habits and are active independent of the kids and with the kids. They see how my husband and I make exercise a priority and how… Read more »
Dana
Dana
6 years 10 months ago

“Deprive” is a strange word to apply to a substance that you don’t need and that actively works to kill you over a span of decades.

Not that I have any room to talk…

Del Mar Mel
Del Mar Mel
6 years 10 months ago
I don’t have kids so I can’t answer from that perspective. My youth, I’m happy to report, didn’t focus a lot on weight. We were very athletic and though I wasn’t spoiled as a kid, if there was any physical activity I wanted to try, I had the equipment immediately. I think it set the foundation of valuing my health and I’m thankful. Once I left for college, the sense of body “competition” amongst other females ultimately bent my brain quite a bit. I’m really glad for the athletic foundation or I’m not sure I would have found my way… Read more »
MooMoo
MooMoo
6 years 10 months ago

Interesting article. I remember my parents doing several good things to help foster healthy eating. We often had dinner at home (even if it was plain chicken breasts and frozen veggies). We only had dessert a couple times a month. And we always had to eat at least one bite of everything on our plate – that’s how I learned to love salads!

Jamie
Jamie
6 years 10 months ago

My son will “try” one bite of something but you can tell he’s already got it in his head he’s not going to like it, and his way of remaining in control is to not eat two bites. 😉

He’s only five.

I don’t know how to deal with it other than to make him try one bite and then act like I don’t care when he refuses to eat anything else. I refuse to make dinner time a war, but I sure wish I had one of those kids who would eat anything.

kate
kate
6 years 10 months ago
I don’t have any kids myself, but below are some things my own parents did that I feel helped me tremendously with regards to my own attitude towards healthy eating and exercise: I grew up in a small village, so I was “in tune” with nature – we grew our own vegetables, and our family owns cherry& apple trees. (during cherry season, we spent all day up in the trees, picking fruit for 2-3 weeks). So right from the start, I just knew that there are no strawberries in february, so I never even considered buying them off-season. Also, I’m… Read more »
Olga
Olga
6 years 10 months ago

Hi Mark:

As a mother of two trying to raise a paleo family, my biggest struggle, is trying to pack a paleo lunch the kids will actually eat. I would love to see a 5 day (or more) plan of lunch and snack ideas. Keeping in mind, that most schools in Canada are peanut/nut free environments.

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[…] Nutrition: Very insightful post on passing good nutritional habits to our youth. […]

deepti
6 years 10 months ago

I think the diet of children should be able to supply the body all the nutrients it needs.Fries, snacks, drinks and confectionery are by far the favorite foods of children but does not reflect an adequate diet.

mslizzy
mslizzy
6 years 10 months ago
Wow. This post spoke to me, and I saw myself, both the good and the bad, exposed. Thank you for saying so eloquently, what I have often felt. We have a very mixed household…a naturally thin son (15), a morbidly obese dad, a daughter that is alternately at peace and at odds with her increasing weight (18), and myself, who has had weight/esteem issues since childood that I still have to work at shaking (lost 30 lbs in my 30’s, and now have lost about 7 more, at 41, after 3 months of being primal). Thank you again for your… Read more »
Gigi
Gigi
6 years 10 months ago

My son, decided he didn’t want any bread because his dad and I decided we didn’t want any. Kids just naturally want to do what there parents do, especially if you include them in the decision making process. For lunch I pack romaine lettuce with avocado spread, left over meat, and wrap it up like a burrito. I add snap peas and carrots and a piece of fruit. I asked him yesterday if he misses the bread, he said absolutely not because it’s so good.

Dana
Dana
6 years 10 months ago

I found a few books at the library about sneaking healthy foods into other foods a child is more likely to want to eat. I think it may be possible to translate that line of thinking into a more paleo setting. The thing is, while kids are “learning” to like healthy food, their bodies are still screaming for it. You don’t stop having nutritional needs just because you don’t like what’s healthy. So I really appreciate the “sneaky chef” trend.

Lisa
Lisa
6 years 10 months ago

Great post and comments! My kids get nutrition “lessons” all the time as I am an exercise physiologit and fitness nutritionist. Here is our society for you: My daughter gets teased about her snack at school which is usually a piece of fruit and either string cheese or sea salted amonds. Everyone else brings chips and such. And this is only the 2nd grade!!!!!

brirob73
brirob73
6 years 10 months ago
I applaud those who sport huevos big enough to tell mommy it’s her fault & comments akin to that. After all, we live in a country free of inconsistency, where everyone knows the one, true right way to live. Hell, our government produces guidelines specifying omission of grains from the diet, and our healthcare system and schools carry out that mandate. No where does there exist any conflicting evidence, and no one is marketing anything towards our kids that might be harmful to them. It sickens me that people consider the feelings of the overweight and their spawn as though… Read more »
Patty
Patty
4 years 11 months ago

Kids have to WANT to eat healthfully or the battle is lost the minute they’re out the door. It can’t and shouldn’t be legislated or dictated (ref Denmark).
Parents who eat (and drink) well and for pleasure and enjoy exercise are showing their kids the way. Kids don’t listen much after parents become idiots (14 or so, age of the child – not parent), but they’re watching like hawks.
The very best we can do for our kids is:
1) discuss the menu and preparation
2) eat well, with wine/beer as appropriate
3) exercise consistently
4) enjoy life and love the kids well

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6 years 10 months ago

[…] Kids and Weight […]

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[…] Kids and Weight […]

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6 years 3 months ago

[…] Kids and Weight   0 Comments Leave A Response […]

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[…] Parenting Dilema […]

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[…] I got on the topic of nutrition and children the other night and I found this article below on Mark’s daily apple.  Read it and let me know your thoughts… http://www.marksdailyapple.com/parenting-dilemma-kids-and-weight/ […]

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[…] Parenting Dilemma: Kids and Weight | Mark's Daily Apple […]

Kristen
Kristen
4 years 9 months ago
Here are my challenges…… My 8 and 11 year old are bored ****less with smoothies, veggie trays, hummus dips, raw nuts and any other healthy creation I can come up with. They are literally starting to mutiny! I do allow them the occasional potato chip or sweet when we are out and about. My 11 year old is overweight, but my 8 year old is at a perfect weight. I attribute this to the fact that my 8-year-old never stops moving. My other source of concern is that in order for my kids to be active I have to be… Read more »
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