When I was at my fattest, I had two kids I was responsible for raising and turning into responsible adults. My kids mean the world to me, and every decision I made was with them in mind, and with their best interest at the fore. In looking back, however, I see that I failed to recognize one of the most important effects I was having on my kids: being an example of how to eat properly.
My daughter was always thin. She is still thin. Despite my being a poor example of eating properly, she stayed thin because she never ate very much. We used to joke that she ate like a bird. Eating at restaurants was always maddening because even when ordering a child’s portion, she rarely finished 1/3 of it. In retrospect, I should have praised her more for that instead of getting upset at her for wasting money. My son, on the other hand, is another story.
He was thin and healthy until the age of 7 when he started gaining a lot of weight. I recognize now that it was due to emotional stress as a result of my divorce and the death of my father (who was raising the kids with me). My son has struggled with weight ever since. Being the hard worker that he is, he was able to lose weight through his sheer will and a combination of diet and exercise. He worked very hard to lose weight and get fit for football in high school, and for a while, he stayed trim and fit. After high school, however, his weight once again skyrocketed. It wasn’t until about 6 months ago that he decided once again to lose weight, but this time, he went with the Paleo Diet and has lost nearly 50 lbs and looks and feels great.
I bear a lot of the guilt for his getting heavy. I was a poor example when it came to eating. I ate anything and everything, and when he wanted to eat with me, whatever I was eating, I let him. I didn’t teach him anything at all about nutrition. I didn’t show him that moderation was important, and since I hadn’t yet learned about the Paleo Diet, I wasn’t able to steer him away from foods that made him gain so much weight.
My advice to parents today is to teach your children about nutrition. Stay away from the added-sugar, grains, beans, soy, and dairy. Educate yourself so that you can guide your children to a healthy lifestyle that will enable them to live long, healthy lives. Whenever I see overweight children, I feel so badly for them. I know it’s not their fault they are overweight; they are only doing what their parents are teaching them. They see us as their heroes and role models. It’s up to us to think of them and do the right thing even when that eclair or chocolate cake looks so good.