Why the 'Weight Talk' Can't Wait for your Obese Child
If your child was displaying dangerous behaviors like drinking, using illicit drugs, stealing or vandalizing would you not do everything in your power to stop them from going down that path? If you were in the car and they refused to wear their seatbelt, would you allow that and put the pedal to the metal? Of course not! You would do everything in your power to get them back on the right path.
By Sarah Stone
A recent study just came out stating that parents are more uncomfortable discussing their child’s excessive weight than having a chat about the birds and the bees, drugs and alcohol or any other subject combined. Yet, childhood obesity is the biggest threat to our young generation’s health – afflicting one in three young children. For the first time in U.S. history, our young generation is expected to live a shorter life and be in poorer health than their parents.
Talking to your child about their weight may be a heavy conversation, but it is one that you can’t ignore. Your child’s life may be on the line. It may be a delicate subject to broach, because it may make your child self-conscious, but think about this – if your child had a suspicious mole, potentially melanoma, would you ignore it because it might embarrass your child, make them feel shameful about their body and get angry at you? Doubtful. Your child’s weight should be viewed in the same way.
We all agree that our worth isn’t determined by the numbers on a scale, but there is a lot more riding on what those digits say...
For each day, month or year one avoids the topic of obesity the probability of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer increases. All can be related to the excess weight your child is carrying around. The primary killers of our youth (and adults) directly correlate to the foods they eat and the fitness they are not doing. Not facing the fire doesn't put it out. It may be a tough conversation, but, honestly, you have no choice.
We control about 80% of our medical destiny by how we choose to use, or not use, our feet and forks. Not talking about what might be awkward and uncomfortable is potentially damning your child to a lessened overall quality of life and an early grave. What would be your choice? Wouldn’t you insist that your child wear a seatbelt, or if they were dabbling with other risky behaviors would you stop trying to convince them to stop?
Approaching the "Weight Talk"
Keep talking... Perhaps it will put a mirror to your own lifestyle, your weight, your poor food choices and your non-existent exercise routine. It is ok! Make getting healthier a family affair. I assure you, you are all worth it and will all benefit!
Statistics have shown that the only chance a young person has for long-term weight loss success is through family involvement and support. Hate to give you the bad news, but you matter most. Don't leave it up to pediatricians, dietitians and school counselors to address and fix the problem, because you, not them, are the horsepower for sustainable change.
Don't feel singled out…your child is not in this alone. You will all benefit from making better food choices and changing how your family uses food. Think about why and make changes by any means necessary. If you discovered the foods you were feeding your child were filled with arsenic, would you make changes to what you serve?
If you stumble, don't stop. The worst thing that you can do is make a bad choice one time and give up the good fight.
Take one step at a time. The idea is to have a lifetime of healthy behaviors. If you go about this with a "diet" mentality or a quick fix, you are setting yourself up for failure. One change at a time, one day at a time. This is not a problem, but an adventure. Cook together and make eating wholesome, nutritious foods as a family a part of your daily routine. Statistics show that families that cook meals together and eat together are physically and emotionally healthier.
We all come in our own shapes and sizes, but striving for optimal health should always be our mission. Skinny isn't always healthy. The idea is to be the best, most active, most nourished self one can be - and to have the world take note.
Sarah Stone is co-creator and director of operations for MindStream Academy. MindStream Academy is a full-service boarding school on a pristine 43-acre horse farm in South Carolina for teens and tweens who want to get healthy, fit, lose weight, take control of their lives, build self-esteem, and pursue a personal passion.
Image source of an Obese Child: Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.