Many American children are overweight and obese, yet we need to remember that we have to go about things very carefully with our children because of the emotional responses they will have. Â One of our children has, this summer, taken on a nasty habit of overeating. Â It was not hard to tell because his skin was so incredibly tight and hard, that he must be feeling quite uncomfortable. Â In addition to adding more FAMILY time exercise, we’ve been watching how much he is eating. Â When it comes to a point that it is more than enough, we politely tell him that “it is time to stop. Â Take some time to listen to your body. Â If you are still hungry in an hour, we can get a little more.” Â Rarely does he ever come back and say he’s still hungry. Â He had just gotten in a habit of eating too much and not listening to his body.
But we all do that sometimes, don’t we? Â As a celiac, sometimes I think “well, even though I’m full, I’m going to have that extra gluten-free (insert sweet or bread product here) because I don’t know when the next time will be that I get one.” Â Please, as if I am incapable of making those things. Â
Some celiacs take it even further and more destructive. Â “Well, I never get cookies, so I’m going to sneak (a gluten) one at my friend’s house when Mom isn’t around.” Â I try hard to make sure Braden feels that he has treats available: not always, and not lots of them, but enough that he doesn’t feel like he is an outsider or left out from all of his friends. Â Every once in awhile, I make sure he takes enough treats for his friends to share with him.
Please read the following article and see how you can apply it in your lives.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â ~Cassandra
Why You Shouldnâ€™t Put Your 7-Year-Old
on a Diet
Whether Itâ€™s a Parent or a Bureaucrat, â€˜Food Policeâ€™ Can Have
a â€˜Fatlash,â€™ Says Former Little Miss Denver County
Before Karen Kataline knew what a calorie was, she was restricted to 500 of them a day. At dinner, she was not served the same foods as her parents and brother. She remembers being hungry all the time.
Kataline was a toddler beauty queen and performer.
â€œIâ€™d started performing in dances and beauty pageants at the age of 3 in the 1960s,â€ says the author of a new, award-winning memoir, â€œFatlash: Food Police & the Fear of Thin,â€ (www.KarenKataline.com). â€œMy mother wanted me to be a star, and she was obsessed with my weight and appearance. She wanted me to be thin.â€™â€™
Years of being forcibly held to a restrictive diet had a profound effect. As a child Kataline learned that she could â€œwinâ€ by eating as much food as she could sneak without getting caught. She especially sought the foods that were denied her, from gravy to chocolate bars.
â€œWhen parents â€“ or some government agency or official â€“ make food choices for individuals, it sets people up to develop eating disorders,â€ says Kataline, an experienced mental health therapist with a masterâ€™s degree in social work from Columbia University. â€œMany times, a child wouldn’t have a weight problem at all if his or her parent weren’t superimposing their own fear and anxiety about it onto the child.â€
Likewise, Kataline is troubled by increasing efforts to legislate food choices for adults, from New York City Mayor Michael Bloombergâ€™s attempt to ban super-sized sugary drinks to Los Angeles City Councilâ€™s prohibition against fast-food restaurants in certain minority neighborhoods,
â€œThe attempt to control a choice as personal and critical to our survival as what we put in our mouths creates serious consequences â€“ whether the control is imposed by an overzealous parent or an army of food police,â€ she says. â€œGovernment attempts to force people to eat in a particular way will have the backlash of actually making people fatter.â€
Kataline offers these suggestions for families who want their children to have a healthy relationship with food â€“ and with themselves.
â€¢Â Teach children â€œbody integrityâ€ â€“ that they have autonomy over their own body.Â Ultimately, each of us is responsible for the choices we make, and that includes the choices involving our bodies, Kataline says. Teach children to recognize the differences between healthy and unhealthy choices, and encourage healthy choices by emphasizing its their body and they must both expect and accept the consequences â€“ good and bad â€“ for the choices they make. â€œChildren will learn to moderate their eating habits when they are in touch with their own hunger signals,â€ she says. â€œWhen someone else takes responsibility for that, they lose touch with it.â€
â€¢Â Set boundaries and respect them.Â It’s normal for parents to revel in their child’s accomplishments. But thereâ€™s a problem when they desperately needÂ their child to look a certain way, or excel in a particular area, Kataline says. They are imposing their own issues and arrested development on their child — she calls it â€œPrincess by Proxy.â€ Living through their child and having their childâ€™s appearance and accomplishments feed their own need for attention and recognition, or their own political agenda, makes the child a proxy for the adult’s agenda and can result in mental and emotional damage to the child. â€œParents need to work out these issues for themselves, or with the help of a therapist, and establish boundaries that respect the childâ€™s autonomy,â€ Kataline says. â€œBy the same token, we as citizens need to set similar boundaries for our politicians and take responsibility for our own choices.â€
â€¢Â If your child is making a lot of unhealthy food choices, encourage her to â€œcheck in with herselfâ€ to identify the cause.Â â€œSometimes the body says what the mouth cannot,â€ Kataline says. Significant weight gain can be a childâ€™s body armor, protecting her from something that feels painful but sheâ€™s unable to articulate. As a young performer and pageant star, Kataline says she was sexualized at a very early age â€“ given a sexual persona through hair styles, makeup, costumes and even dance moves. Adultsâ€™ response made her feel vulnerable. The overeating that began as a way to beat her motherâ€™s strict dietary rules eventually became a way to protect herself from the looks that made her uncomfortable.
About Karen Kataline, MSW
Karen Kataline is a social worker, public speaker and performer whose professional and personal perspective on the effects of beauty pageants on young children has won the 2013 Sponsorâ€™s Choice Award for the National Indie Excellence Awards; the 2013 NIEA Award Winner for Womenâ€™s Issues and Addiction & Recovery; 1st place Evvy Award, Colorado Independent Publishers Association; and was a finalist in Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards. Kataline received her masterâ€™s degree in Social Work from Columbia University and has worked with teenagers, the elderly and the profoundly traumatized. She taught communications at the New School for Social Research, Parsons School of Design in New York, New Jerseyâ€™s Montclair State College and Fairleigh Dickenson University, among others. She also continues to perform as a talk radio host, broadcaster and voice-over artist, in musical comedies, and in television and film. Â