Are They Really MY Kids?

I just got home from a very expensive trip to Costco and, as I was putting all of the stuff away, I noticed some things that lead me to believe that all 3 of my babies were switched at the hospital.

Example #1: An uneaten bag of candy from HALLOWEEN (it is MARCH!)

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Example #2: A goodie bag full of Christmas candy (again, it is MARCH!)

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Example #3: (please don’t judge my mess) Counter next to refrigerator stuffed with candy from all 3 kids. Hershey bars, Thin-Mint-y type cookies from Christmas, Chocolate popcorn, more candy filled goodie bags, etc. JUST SITTING THERE for weeks and weeks.

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Example #4: Pantry full of cookies, chips, carbs

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Example #5: Girl Scout cookies which were delivered over a month ago…still not eaten.

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It blows my mind that this stuff is not gone, after all this time. I’m pretty proud of myself that I have been so compliant during this 5 months with all of this crap lying around too.

I bring all of this up because in addition to creating healthy habits for myself, I also need to ensure that my family, as a whole, improves our eating habits as well. This is very tricky.

I think back on my childhood, and unlike many people fighting obesity, I had a great childhood and was raised by two parents that did nothing but love and support me. I was an only child and worked hard to do well and stay out of trouble. I did not have any traumatic experiences and really lived a life that I hope to model for my own family as much as possible. My mom cooked a healthy dinner most nights. It was pretty much your 1970/1980s meat and potatoes affair but it always included one vegetable that I choked down. There were very few veggies that I enjoyed or could even tolerate so she managed to just keep those that I would eat in rotation week in and week out. But she really really restricted the “junk food”. She barely allowed any chips or soda in the house – candy, once in a while. And this made me crave it. Obsess about it. I was very tall and thin and very active. I spent all of my free time outside running around with the neighborhood kids or playing sports. Obesity was a non-issue for me. But, wow, if I got around junk food it was all I could think about because I hardly ever got it. I loved going over to friends’ houses where they had it in their pantries. I was amazed that they could have chips or candy bars any time and they really didn’t think it was a big deal. I remember sometimes actually enjoying going to my Catholic catechism class because there was a vending machine and, if I got there a few minutes early, I could buy something and sneak the candy during class before I got picked up. In high school and college I had much more freedom so I did eat quite a bit of junk. I remember my freshman year of college, my RA was just hanging out in our room talking to us and she saw my junk food “drawer” under my bed. When she was leaving she mentioned that she could refer me to an eating disorder specialist at the university if I wanted. I thought she was crazy. I was still active and at had not gained any weight at this point. My metabolism had not caught up with me yet – that would come much later in my life, along with 3 pregnancies.

I was looking at all of the Easter candy and baskets today at Costco and it always brings back a very distinct memory for me – the year I asked for Cheetos and Pepsi for Easter. I still remember waking up Easter morning to a basket with a big bag of puffed Cheetos inside. Nothing cheetoselse – no chocolate, jelly beans, etc. – just the bag of Cheetos. And I was so excited! I think I also got a 2 liter bottle of Pepsi. I probably made that stuff last a long long time.

But guess what my “drug” of choice has been the last 10 years – Cheetos and (non-diet) Cherry Pepsi. I would come home from a good workout at the gym and pour myself a big bowl of puffy Cheetos and crack open a Cherry Pepsi on ice. After all, I just burned a bunch of calories at the gym. But, I wouldn’t stop there. I would most likely have yet another bowl later in the afternoon before the kids came home – a little “reward” for a day of laundry and grocery shopping.

So I decided when I had my own kids I might do things differently. I have found, so far, that if the “junk” is in the house, it really isn’t a big deal to them. Maybe this is partially genetics since my husband could probably take it or leave it too. Sometimes my kids really want candy or chips. If they ask if they can have chips, I usually tell them yes. If that is all they wanted all the time, then we’d have a different discussion, but it seems like with all of it readily available, it loses a lot of its importance to them. Same thing with soda. 2 of my kids will drink it on occasion but 9 times out of 10 they ask for milk or water – even when soda is an option. I keep plenty of it on hand and sometimes my youngest asks for a Pepsi and I usually just tell her she can go ahead and have one. Rarely she’ll ask several times a week and I will then tell her to just take half a can or something. But then she’ll go weeks and weeks before asking again. Since I started on Optifast, I have hardly bought any chips. I have actually thrown a few bags away since they were getting stale. Sometimes my son will eat an entire bag in a matter of days. But, again, then he’ll go weeks without touching them. My kids are all very tall and skinny – and spend many hours at sports practices. If they had a weight issue, then, obviously, I would have to re-think all of this. Their diet is far from perfect. They eat way too many “white” things – pasta, bread, bagels, etc. We do go to fast food way too much. I’m working on meal planning and adding in more vegetables and variety. But I hope that I’m doing the right thing with the “junk” snack food.

So, as I transition into maintenance, I’m going to do my best to reduce the amount of “junk” food in our house. I can’t believe how much less I have been purchasing since I am not eating it! I obviously don’t need it or need the temptations. But I do want to leave some – we all need to learn to live with it around. I’m probably still going to have Cheetos or chips once in a rare while. I’m going to try very hard to not start on the fully loaded sugar sodas ever again.

I hope I’m doing the right thing with my kids. I see so many parents that completely forbid sodas and fast food – a few 12 year olds that have never been to McDonalds (how does this happen?) I envy their fortitude on this subject but I also wonder if their kids will want it even more when they are older or maybe continue to not go near it since they were raised without it. I would love your experiences and opinions on this! Please leave me a comment.

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3 Responses to Are They Really MY Kids?

  1. I think this is really interesting. I don’t have kids yet but I’ve thought about this before after seeing my friends allow or disallow their kids to have junk. I bet that your commitment to your health and not eating the junk is also helping with your kids choices/desires to eat it or not. Great job on both the conscious parenting and on having the self control not to eat it anymore yourself!!

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  2. Tami says:

    You are a great mom!

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  3. Allison says:

    My Mom also very strictly regulated what we could have (she was always overweight and on a diet) and all I did was overindulge whenever I could get my hands on those treats. All three of us kids really went crazy when we left the house and gained a lot of weight, and have been fighting it ever since. My kids are like yours – active, skinny, and self-regulated. I’ve been very intentional about letting them eat what they want when they are hungry, and it has paid off. My youngest won’t touch candy at all (he gets Cheetos in his Easter basket because he is a “salty” kid) and my oldest loves one or two types of candy only, and prefers dry saltines and plain cheerios for a snack (ick). I agree with you – I think because we don’t heavily restrict treats they don’t hold the same power over the kids as they do us. It’s definitely much harder for me to avoid the snacks than it is for them!

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