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My family is on a diet. The crazy part is: the diet was not my husband’s or my idea.
What Prompted the Diet?
About a week ago, my 9-year-old stepdaughter asked her daddy if she could go on a diet. She did not say what made her decide to diet, and we did not pry.
It could be any number of reasons.
Her mother might have said something. Or perhaps it was other kids. Or simply my stepdaughter realizing that she is slightly bigger than other kids her age.
Could she stand to lose 10 pounds? Of course. Is she horribly overweight? Of course not.
The truth is: my family needs to focus more on healthy eating and exercise.
Don’t we all have a million excuses for why we are too busy to focus on our health and wellness?
It’s easy to get caught up in the “busyness” of life, and let your health fall to the wayside.
We are too busy. There isn’t enough time to cook. Healthy food is too expensive. Fast food is too tempting.
The excuses are nothing new. The only difference is that this time my family is taking action.
The Game Plan
What makes a family diet successful?
Dedication and whole family participation (with the exception of my 2 under 2. Though they will inevitably eat healthier as I cook healthier).
Weekly Weigh Ins
For every diet, you need a starting point.
At our 1st weigh in, stepdaughter was 89 pounds, I was 141.5 pounds, and dad was 183.2 pounds.
I asked my stepdaughter what her goal weight was, and she said 83 pounds. (That made me laugh a little on the inside, thinking about her naiveté and innocence. But losing 6 pounds is definitely doable for her.)
My goal weight is 130 pounds, and Dad’s goal weight is 170 pounds.
*A note about weighing in:
I am not placing too much emphasis on the scale’s reading.
As every woman knows, the scale only tells one side of the story. You can reach your goal weight and still be unhealthy. I don’t want my stepdaughter to get fixated on 2 or 3 numbers on a scale. What is more important is how her clothes fit and how much extra energy she has when she is fueling her body the right way.
The fastest way to lose weight is to eat healthier.
Fruits and veggies fill our refrigerator. Grapes, strawberries, watermelon, apples, cucumbers, carrots, salad. The more colorful, the better.
Dinners are home-cooked. For example, our Sunday meal was baked chicken, red potatoes, watermelon, and green beans.
Limiting Eating Out and Treats
My family’s biggest hurdle when it comes to dieting, is limiting eating out.
We are typically good during the week, but weekends are another story. We reward ourselves for making it through the week with good food.
In a typical weekend, we might eat out at a restaurant, eat fast food a few times, pick up a giant soda from QuikTrip a few times, pick up ice cream from Braum’s or Sonic half-price shakes, and so forth.
It might not seem so bad when you occasionally eat fast food. But when you realize that bad food has become the norm (at least my family’s weekend norm),then it is time to admit there is a problem.
As much as we’d like to indulge our every craving on the weekends, we cannot do that anymore.
One of the first things I thought of when my stepdaughter asked to diet, was keeping her active.
Kids exercise all the time, running and playing and horsing around, without realizing it.
When they play Tag at recess, or ride their bikes up and down the street, or jump on the trampoline; they are exercising.
I want to make exercise fun, and not a chore, for my stepdaughter. When my husband and I go on our evening walks around the neighborhood, (pushing our 2 under 2 in the double-stroller), my stepdaughter rides her bike ahead of us.
The main thing is to make sure that she is active everyday. Kids will sit on the couch playing video games all day long, if you let them.
The trick is to make playing outside, just as enticing as playing inside.
Is 9 too young to diet?
Maybe yes and maybe no. That is a decision that only mom and dad can make.
If you do decide to let a young child diet, it should be a family effort.
You will have to restock your fridge and pantry with nutritious foods. You cannot keep soda and chips and cookies around and expect to lose weight.
For mothers: it is important to keep complex thoughts about dieting and body image to yourself. Don’t ever tell your child that she looks fat, or talk negatively about your own body in front of a child. Kids hear, and they internalize everything.
I want my stepdaughter to have a positive self-image, regardless of her weight. The last thing I would ever do is single her out and say that she needs to diet.
But because she asked to diet, my family is supporting her by focusing on healthier eating habits and staying more active.
It is a win-win for everyone.
Readers: Has your family gone on a diet? Do you think 9 is too young to diet?