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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The word DIET... and children, people... Define it for what it is.

Two weeks ago my daughter, almost 12, walked in to the living room wearing one pair of new shorts I had purchased for her (cargo to fit the school's dress code) and another pair in her hand that I had accidentally purchased a size too large.

"MOM. I LOOK FAT IN THESE!" My children are in NO WAY over weight. In fact they beat the health chart between weight, hight and muscle tone. I never use the word or should I say, "I need to go on a diet." Instead, Hubby and I say, "We need to get more extracurricular." Or, "I need more cardio and I need to strengthen my core."

Because the word DIET has lost its true meaning. The meaning of the word diet is what you intake. Your DIET can be fast food, vegan, steak and potatoes, etc. But now days if you say what is your diet? People and more importantly concerning children, take it to mean they need to cut back. To skip meals. To skip important nutrients that help their brains and bodies grow.

My Li'Gal is a candy gal. She loves her sugar. But at the same time she realizes that she needs her vegetables, her protein, her calcium, her vitamin D. I think part of raising our live stock show animals and pets helps put that point forward. Farmer, Jr. is the healthiest eater in the family. Even over ME!

YET he is often criticized for eating healthy and being not particularly 'picky' but just preferring NOT to eat crappy food. Don't get me wrong. He loves his Whataburger (fast-food hamburger joint primarliy in Texas) and he loves his DQ (Dairy Queen, also Texas based) but typically he will choose the healthier choice or skip a meal all together. To me, making smart choices even if seems a testy pallet, I think is mature. And heart and body healthy. (BTW, he just at 13 finally decided that he kinda' likes bacon. I know right? My FIL was in shock for years - Don't like bacon? WTH BOY?" LOL! All in jest... mostly.)

The pediatrician said to limit his love for peanut butter. Of course, again, with his smart pallet you can't fool him. He has the love of peanut butter BUT ONLY Jiff Reduced Fat peanut butter. Believe me, when I can't find it in stock I've tried to trick him. The sandwich comes home maybe half eaten along with the comment, "Mom. That was the wrong peanut butter." Know what? After trying several varieties of peanut butter? He is correct. You can tell the difference in the roast, the sugar, the creamy-ness, etc.

But over all, I stress to my kids that the word DIET means what you eat, NOT HOW you eat.

In part it is the health teachers and coaches for PE. They tell the kids over and over about what they eat and working out and exercise because there are so many children and students in our area that are obese at 4th grade. So as they are trying to make an impact on health to those students it is almost faulting those who ARE in great health. Even my son said recently, "Mom, I'm getting fat. My jean's don't fit." To which I replied, "No. You are in perfect health. You can ask your pediatrician. You are above the average. You are growing. You have grown several inches and your body has to grow OUT a little bit to grow up and support your height.

And it isn't just parents feeling overweight, or coaches and health teachers trying to make an impression but other students. Friends and co-students that feel ill about themselves that make others around them think, "Am I FAT?" "These skinny jeans don't fit me at my size? Am I abnormally sized for my age?"

It isn't about the word DIET. Rather focus on the word HEALTHY. Heart healthy, bone healthy, brain healthy and so on. Carbs are not all bad. Especially for kids. Their brains need carbs and their bodies need energy. Protein, Calcium. When I feed my kids I tell them what they are putting into their bodies. In the mornings I don't require them to eat anything in particular. Although, Farmer, Jr. looks forward to a hot breakfast with eggs and peanut butter toast or a homemade taco with protein and he's a milk - lover. But Lil'Gal is like her Dad. So I tell her, even though they serve breakfast at 9:am at school she may not like it. She's not an early eater. But she understands that her body needs that energy in the morning. So she either settles for something, even cereal or she takes something with her.

I'm not a nagging mom or a maniac but I've heard what kids say. About themselves and to each other. And my daughter thinking she looks fat (which I realize comes with coming into puberty) is unacceptable to me. So watch your words. Because kids are always listening. Always. And maybe curb away from the word that has become dirty and lost its meaning, the word DIET.

Off my soap box,