Is your diet toxic for your children?


As moms, there comes a critical point when our children were just beginning to show language development when suddenly we have to watch what we say in front of our sweet, innocent little babies.  Sure, the first time they said a cuss word we might snicker under our breath, but immediately the realization that they can repeat after us smacks us in the face and we shape up. 


We do this in other areas as well.  As parents, we want our children to have better opportunities than we had.  Parents who were raised by alcoholics, gambling addicts, abusers, and smokers often resolve very early to not do those things in front of their own children.  We want them to grow up happy, and healthy, right?  So why does that end with our diet?

Too Old to Forget

Studies have shown that children have definite memories as far back as 3 years old.  Parental recognition studies have shown that older children can remember physical characteristics such as height, weight, and hair color of their parents as far back as 4 years old.  What does this have to do with your diet?  It means that once your children have reached the age of 4 years old, they will remember if mom or dad were overweight when they were young.   From the age of approximately 4 on, your lifestyle choices and your diet choices set the example of how your children will grow up and their attitudes towards weight and healthy living and eating.

The Hidden Message of Diets


There are many great diet programs out there, which I will discuss in a bit.  However, there are many weight loss methodologies that have been shown to not only be ineffective long term, but also send horrible messages to children about the importance of good decisions, good eating habits, and good exercise habits.  I ca

ll these programs “responsibility shifters” because they remove the responsibility from you to take care your body and shift it to someone else.


The first programs that I try to steer clients away from are those that replace meals.  Programs like Jenny Craig, Slimfast, and other methods that use meal replacement as a means to lose weight are very good ways to lose weight; over and over and over again.    The problem with these programs is their long term success rates.  Neither program have success rates over 30% by recent studies.  Why is that?  They do nothing to teach you how to eat healthy and how to make smart decisions about your meals.  They force you to rely on their products to lose weight, and therefore you become dependent on those products to keep it off.  Once you have lost the weight and attempt to reincorporate normal food and eating into the equation, the weight comes back on because you have yet to make good habits permanent.

The second method that I wholeheartedly steer away from are the surgical procedures.  I feel that as mothers, these are the worst possible means to lose weight.  Keep in mind, I believe for the truly morbid obese who are facing imminent death, this is a different story, but for women who still have the means to cook for themselves, get active, this is a horrible message to send to your children.  A recent study showed that the 5 year success rate of these surgeries lies at a very low 30%, and even less after 10 years.  In fact, almost 60% of individuals who have gastric surgeries end up gaining all of their weight back.. and more.  I call this method of weight loss “body bankruptcy,” as you gain all this physical “debt” and then use an artificial method to wipe the slate clean.  I have never known a single person who has had one of these surgeries to have kept the weight off.  Additionally, the high incidence of addiction transference (starting smoking, becoming alcoholic or addicted to pain medication) is terrifying.  And sadly, it’s because, once again, it’s a crutch.   Most doctors who perform these surgeries require no follow up care, no cooking classes, and rarely monitor diet modifications.  It is simply a way to force a physical change to a mental issue.

And that is where the issue lies.  Obesity is a mental problem.  I have it and many of you have it.  We know what makes us gain weight.  We know what we need to do, but many of us simply aren’t willing to make the permanent changes we need to see positive health.  And why are these programs such a hazard to our children?  A recent pediatric study showed that most (65%) women who have gastric surgeries have overweight or obese children.  Using these “crutch” methodologies are sending our children down the same path that we have fallen on. 

Teach by Example

There are wonderful diet programs that exist to help individuals lose weight  healthily and permanently.  Weight Watchers boosts the highest long term success rates of any weight loss program.  And, the same study as above showed that an even more overwhelming number of lifetime Weight Watchers members have children that fall into the “healthy” weight range.  Other programs like Overeaters 16802Anonymous and online programs like SparkPeople also have shown a wonderful side effect of healthy families.  Why is this?  Because these programs deal with the whole body.  They teach participants how to make good decisions, how to work with and not deny cravings, how to incorporate healthy eating and fitness habits into your everyday life, how to handle stress eating, and how to live healthy. They treat your mind, body and spirit to help get rid of that fat version of you that is ingrained in your mind.  When that happens, your children observe it and learn from it too.  Instead of growing up thinking that yo-yo dieting is healthy, they learn great eating habits from the start.  In stead of themselves gaining 100 extra pounds and having a surgery to wipe it away like mommy, they never have the heartbreaking life of getting to that point because fitness and good habits are instilled in them along the way.

We all want what is best for our children, and the best thing we can do for them is to teach them by example.  I certainly don’t want my children to someday look in the mirror and realize they’re 70, 80, or more pounds overweight like I was.  I want them to be strong and healthy all along, knowing that I did the best I could to teach them along the way.

Do it for you.  Do it for your children.  Do it for life.  Just keep….



~ by Shawna on April 21, 2010.

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