On the last health check up for my kids, the pediatrician declared that my daughter was overweight.
Overweight? I wanted to ask, “Are you sure?”. He proceeded to declare she was, at that time, 7 kg. overweight. The doctor kindly talked to my daughter and explained to her that she needed to lose a little bit of weight.
As a toddler, she was a picky eater and I had trouble feeding her. She usually ate a few spoons then started spitting up. I refused to prepare a special meals for her so she was forced to eat whatever we were eating. We introduced new food to her constantly and slowly, as she discovered different tastes and textures, she started to love eating and to love food. As parents, my husband and I rejoiced.
C is a very active, confident and self-assured child. In summer, she took up swimming. She, along with her 5-year-old brother, joined a tournament after only 3 sessions, knowing they wouldn’t win but wanting the experience. Year-round, she joins taekwondo classes, took up violin and, if I hadn’t stopped her, wanted to take up voice and dance class.
So, the diagnosis from the doctor took me by surprise. I knew she liked to eat a little too much but I didn’t recognize it as a health risk.
I was an overweight (borderline obese) child and I was a heck of a lot fatter than she is. I could barely run due to blisters between my legs while C could join 3 km runs without difficulty. She is highly active, I was not.
As a child, my weight debilitated my ability to socially interact with my peers and was badly bullied. My daughter has no such problem. My weight made me unable to join any sport or school activity, my daughter also has no such problem. My weight wore down my confidence. Again, C has no such problem.
After the doctor’s appointment, however, I wasn’t sure how to progress.
I could see that her current weight has not affected her lifestyle, much to my relief. However, I could not ignore the doctor’s advice.
So, I went home with my daughter and we discussed our next steps together.
She didn’t seem affected emotionally by the doctor’s prognosis and she was able to maturely offer to decrease her intake of sweets and junk food. She also suggested to decrease her intake of rice. I drew the line at dieting because she’s still growing and, to be honest, I didn’t believe in withholding food.
Sometimes, I see her eat quite a bit but it breaks my heart to tell her to stop eating. I am afraid of giving her a complex. I am worried that reminding her all the time that she need to lose weight will make her develop body image issues. She is a beautiful, active, lively and happy little girl, albeit overweight. I didn’t want her weight to be of primary importance to her. I didn’t want her to feel less of herself just because of it.
I grew up bullied and constantly reminded of my “fat status” and it greatly affected the way I view my body. I am constantly seeing myself as “too fat” even though I know mentally that I’m not. Due to my experience, I don’t want my daughter to go through the same thing. I refuse to allow that to happen.
So now, I’m struggling to maintain a balance — a balance between controlling her intake of food and not making her weight a big deal. I am struggling to let her know she needs to eat a serving fit for her needs only to better her health, without making her feel she needs to lose weight in order to be fabulous.
Because she already IS fabulous, in every single way.