The hardest part of my struggle with weight is watching what I have passed on to my daughter. I have felt myself giving my daughter the same look my own mother has once-upon-a-time given to me. It is a look of regret and guilt. If only I had been a better role model…
My daughter inherited my genetics, which meant she has always “carried extra weight” but I have tried to keep her away from my body dysmorphic issues. When my mother tried to get me to put her on a diet at 10, I shut her down. When she asked, at fourteen, to join Jenny Craig with me, I paid the bill but told her it was totally up to her and didn’t push. And whenever a doctor or clinician has suggested I take a more active role in her diet regimen, I have resisted. I mean, how hypocritical would that be?
I still remember my first conscious fat thought. I was between sixth and seventh grade and went to visit my grandparents in Florida for a few weeks. When my mother got me off the airplane her first words were “You look like you have been puffed up with air.” My first diet started shortly thereafter, as did an enforced participation in soccer. I can’t say I totally blame my mother for all my eating issues and dislike of organized sports, but there does seem to be some correlation and I really, really wanted to avoid that with my own daughter.
I thought I had spared her the yo-yo dieting and while she could have used to “lose a few,” I protected her from that as much as I could. It wasn’t until this past year that things with her weight got out of hand. While dealing with emotional issues she was prescribed some heavy-duty meds and it totally wrecked her system. She gained 50 pounds in one year and has stretch marks on her upper arms, thighs, and belly. And while I still try to be positive and help her see herself as the beautiful, special child that she is, I can’t help feeling this is all my fault.
She doesn’t want to keep going the way she is, but I don’t want to resign her to a life of lose ten, gain fifteen. After yesterday’s realization that I wasn’t eating enough I was very focused on what I was eating today. I noticed that after breakfast (and I mean right after) my daughter had a plate of carrots and lettuce. She said the bowl of cereal didn’t fill her up, and then she admitted (guiltily, of course) that she had awoken in the night and been so hungry she had gone down to eat some of the snacks we bought yesterday. And it hit me that she would learn my self-sabotage as easily as she learned my poor eating habits and exercise aversion.
So I sat her down at the livestrong website and got her her own account. The first surprise was that her recommended caloric intake was so much higher than mine. According to the site, at her age, height, and weight, she should be eating 2,800 calories a day in order to lose weight at a healthy pace. Next, when we went through what she ate yesterday, even counting her midnight run to the kitchen, she had eaten only about 1,100, and most of those calories were carbohydrates, not proteins, and not good fats. It is like everything that I am, that I hate in myself, is reflected triple in her. In essence my parenting is having the opposite impact of what I want.
It only makes my resolve stronger. I would give anything… do anything… to protect my child, and I’m starting to see that what I’m doing now, setting up healthy eating habits and focusing more on myself is also a gift I can give my daughter. My beautiful, special, wonderful daughter.
I felt I needed extra help with this one. It’s a big issue. I read a lot of articles and most of them say basically the same thing: Your own negative feelings about your own body are passed on, doubly, to your child. Here are some of the better articles I found. Hope they are helpful.
- Interesting article from WebMD includes citations from
- Do I Look Fat in This? article from University of Florida
- What to Avoid When Doing A Fat Camp Show: NY Magazine interviews mother-daughter creators of Huge.
- Help Your Daughter Create A Healthy Body Image: Focus Adolescent Service
Has the best line: “Ours is also a culture in which food consumes us, rather than the other way around.”