First of all, please don't flame me. I know that children come in all shapes, sizes and colors, but I am concerned about my 2 FDs. Both are over the 97th percentile in weight. We are a very active and healthy family and want the girls to have a healthier lifestyle. There is a history of diabetes and other weight-related medical issues in their bio-family. My question is this- We don't want the girls to feel "fat" which is already an issue with the oldest, but I don't want to be a physical fitness instructor either. How do I encourage a healthier lifestyle (besides eating healthier, which we all do) without damaging already fragile self-esteem, especially to couch potatoes?
Thank you all for the advice. It has been unreasonably cold so outdoor activities are sporadic at best. We do have a Wii with tons of dance/boxing/sports but she wants to watch, not participate. She has signed up for summer league softball so that will definitely get her active but we are in a very small town with limited activity classes, unless you want to do ballet. DH and I go to the gym and have invited her to join us (Zumba is my favorite and it's fun) but there aren't any other preteens in any of the classes and I won't force her. We do make sure her portions are reasonable (still more than they should be but she thought we were starving her at first LOL). We offer healthy food choices with occasional splurges but lately she's been sneaking the junk at night so it might have to disappear or be locked up. She denies this even when I catch her in the kitchen at midnight digging in the pantry. She will say she's getting a drink. Obviously drinks aren't in the pantry.... I don't want to lock food up (we always have a bowl of fruit, crackers, etc available) but it's getting worse lately.
She can't get the junk if you don't buy it. It may mean a sacrifice to the family for a while, but it really is that simple. And, I would go out there to say at her age, it is a very real possibility she could be sensitive for an eating disorder. I started at that age. I never got overweight until I was an adult, but the eating disorders, binging, purging, etc., started at age 12.
And, it is very early in this placement. I would not even consider going there about her weight yet. She will shut you out. She isn't stupid, she likely knows that she is on the heavy side. Just keep healthy options in the house at all times. If she is hungry, she'll eat an apple.
As for dinners, if she is eating a lot, try making more recipes that you can "sneak" in the good stuff. Believe it or not, I do this to myself. I hate most veggies, so like when I make spaghetti, I normally do not like peppers in it, but I have started chopping up, finely, two-3 peppers in my sauce. They are so small, my sensory/texture mouth doesn't notice them. Same trick in chili. You can grate carrots and they will hardly be noticed.
And roasted veggies bring out some of the natural sweetness and thus will appeal more. Balsamic vinegar is low cal and can flavor port, and even fries. Also, make oven baked fries. I learned a trick recently to get them perfect. After you cut them into fries, soak them for several hours, or overnight, in cold water, then rinse and pat them as dry as you can. Toss in a bowl with a little olive oil and seasoning, bake them, and they are sooo good.
If she doesn't want to get up and play the Wii, maybe try using the little sis as competition. That is why I bought a Wii when my girls were here because we have a good 3-4 months of COLD in OH and they need exercise.
I am going to warn you, if she comes from a family that is on the couch potato side, that exercise might be the hardest one to win over. Maybe save the battle for when it is warm enough that you can go bike riding. Once she sees how fun those activities can be, she'll likely start wanting to be more adventurous.
She can't get the junk if you don't buy it. It may mean a sacrifice to the family for a while, but it really is that simple. And, I would go out there to say at her age, it is a very real possibility she could be sensitive for an eating disorder. I started at that age. I never got overweight until I was an adult, but the eating disorders, binging, purging, etc., started at age 12.
And, it is very early in this placement. I would not even consider going there about her weight yet. She will shut you out. She isn't stupid, she likely knows that she is on the heavy side. Just keep healthy options in the house at all times. If she is hungry, she'll eat an apple.
As for dinners, if she is eating a lot, try making more recipes that you can "sneak" in the good stuff. Believe it or not, I do this to myself. I hate most veggies, so like when I make spaghetti, I normally do not like peppers in it, but I have started chopping up, finely, two-3 peppers in my sauce. They are so small, my sensory/texture mouth doesn't notice them. Same trick in chili. You can grate carrots and they will hardly be noticed.
And roasted veggies bring out some of the natural sweetness and thus will appeal more. Balsamic vinegar is low cal and can flavor port, and even fries. Also, make oven baked fries. I learned a trick recently to get them perfect. After you cut them into fries, soak them for several hours, or overnight, in cold water, then rinse and pat them as dry as you can. Toss in a bowl with a little olive oil and seasoning, bake them, and they are sooo good.
If she doesn't want to get up and play the Wii, maybe try using the little sis as competition. That is why I bought a Wii when my girls were here because we have a good 3-4 months of COLD in OH and they need exercise.
I am going to warn you, if she comes from a family that is on the couch potato side, that exercise might be the hardest one to win over. Maybe save the battle for when it is warm enough that you can go bike riding. Once she sees how fun those activities can be, she'll likely start wanting to be more adventurous.
I wouldn't invite her or take her to the gym at her age. If she is as sensitive as you say she may think poorly of your offer.
I would say that maybe a trade off on inside activity if she only wants to watch.
Institute a family thing where...while it's cold and we cant do outside fun then we will do inside fun and keep active. Let them know it's all about health. For every minute she spends on the physical game she can earn something she really enjoys (iPad, computer, iPod...what ever she is into)
Those things listed are privileges to be earned not rights to have :)
I also agree with the healthy eating. It will kick in soon! We got a very obese little girl, she was 5 years old and weighed at least 50 pounds more than she should have. She was with us a month and now is with kin, they are very active, all outside and healthy food and they are all fit. They even rode bikes to our place a few times. She looks like a new kid!
Good luck!
I just noticed the last part about her sneaking or hoarding food.
It's such a hard habit to break. I am struggling right now with it. Like PP said, time for all that to go away! Keep healthy "free" foods out for them. Don't lock things up. Just don't get them but if you do maybe keep a place in your room.
She has to be allowed some "oogie" stuff too (I'm sure you know that, just sayin)
Ask her what she likes for her "oogie" treats. Tell her you will get some of her favorites and she may have 1 a day. We did that while the kids were home on summer vacation..OMG I had 6 kids all wanting crap all day long! Finally after the first week I set down the law! 1 per day, could be any time of day I did not care but if you got caught sneaking then you would give up tomorrows. (I had a sneaker in the group) after he lost his first "next day" treat...never did it again. My kids had hunger issues when they came!
Good luck!
either mandatory outside time. I've had to make mine go run around the parking lot of the school. A sport or dance is another idea.
txMOMkns
Thank you all for the advice. It has been unreasonably cold so outdoor activities are sporadic at best. We do have a Wii with tons of dance/boxing/sports but she wants to watch, not participate. She has signed up for summer league softball so that will definitely get her active but we are in a very small town with limited activity classes, unless you want to do ballet. DH and I go to the gym and have invited her to join us (Zumba is my favorite and it's fun) but there aren't any other preteens in any of the classes and I won't force her. We do make sure her portions are reasonable (still more than they should be but she thought we were starving her at first LOL). We offer healthy food choices with occasional splurges but lately she's been sneaking the junk at night so it might have to disappear or be locked up. She denies this even when I catch her in the kitchen at midnight digging in the pantry. She will say she's getting a drink. Obviously drinks aren't in the pantry.... I don't want to lock food up (we always have a bowl of fruit, crackers, etc available) but it's getting worse lately.
I am a bit fluffy myself. When my kids came to me, they were 7-11 kids. Like, everything they ever ate, came from a convenience store. I sent them to respite for a weekend with a couple that were very healthy and active, and I can tell you that they activity was fine with them, but when the couple wouldn't allow them to eat as much as they wanted, it became a self esteem issue, because they felt like they were being judged and were bad because they wanted more than the couple would allow.
Now, in spite of my fluffyness, both of them are in shape, healthy and very normal sizes. In the winter I signed them up for skiing and snoboarding, my daughter did gymnastics, soccer and basketball, my son did football, baseball and weightlifting. I give them unlimited access to certain fruits and vegetables. I found that my daughter binges on any type of carb, so I just stopped buying bread and crackers. Then there's no temptation around. Its very important that if you are going to limit their portions, that there be some food that you allow them unlimited access to. This is because these children are used to stuffing their feelings. The weightloss will come, but if you limit everything they eat, they will steal feed from stores, or friends, they will start hoarding at school, and food becomes a huge control issue.
a PS my 15 year old daughter asked me to post her comment as follows...
"from a kid's perspective it is very unfair to control portions. They are probably already traumatized from being taken away from their parents and taking food away, which is their only comfort right now, is cruel and she would would have started hoarding food and sneaking food if I had done it to her." Just a foster kids perspective
I would highly recommend against stating anything to do with anything weight related...even if you say it's for "health" or the the whole family. She knows she's overweight, she is sensitive about it I'm sure already, on top of whatever issues she has food wise. Your family obviously seems very health focused, she came from a completely different culture. It will take time, a lot of time, to change that, and even the slightest focus on it can be detrimental.
I was overweight at that age and my mom would try little incentives to have us be "healthier"...lose 5 pounds, get a CD. Go outside for so many active times, get some reward. I was always motivated, always failed, and always hated myself a little more afterwards. It started a cycle of dieting and self hatred that ended with an eating disorder in college.
You can't force her to do anything, and the more you focus on it, the more it will make her depressed and hate herself for being that way. Just creating the atmosphere is honestly the best you can do.....no junk in the house. at all. don't make a point of it "We aren't buying junk anymore." just simplly don't have it. Cut up fruits and veggies ready to eat, find fun foods that they enjoy and have them ready, etc. Make TV/downtime fairly inaccessble...they get say, 4 30 minute passes a week for personal TV time (not including like family movies). They can spread them out or use them all on one day.
I know you said you live in a small town, but family activities really are the best. In the winter, join the local Y and go swimming as a family. Go bowling. Take your dogs on a cold winter walk. Go play laser tag if that's available nearby. Make up some fun active games in the house.
Again, thank you for the advice everyone. When I said I invited her to go to the gym, I should have said I invited ALL my kids. I've never singled her out and wouldn't dare to do so, as I know how fragile a teens self esteem can be. I do keep "anytime" foods for the girls. There are fruits, veggies, crackers and low-fat individual peanut butter to-go cups for dipping or with crackers. We are not health nuts in any way, shape or form, but we are very active which compensates for an occasional (weekly:eyebrows: ) hamburger, fries and milkshake dinner. I don't want to have to be a drill sergeant and keep no junk food in my house as I think it's healthy when you can splurge every once in a while. FD12 thinks it's normal to have 3 HotPockets for an after-school snack, with 3 helpings of dinner 2 hours later! And she thinks we are starving her by not allowing this type of behavior.
With ALL my kids, we have had to point out portion sizes to them, weight issues or not. (Teenage boys eat a lot. LOL) They would go through a box of cereal in a day or 2. For my current kid, I buy cereal and put dates on the boxes when he can get a new one (weekly). There are usually 12-14 servings, so a box a week seems reasonable to me. Same with snacks. I give so much each week and he can eat it all at once or throughout the week. He IS active though, so he burns off what he eats. I got toaster strudels and had to tel him ONE was a serving, not 2.
She hasn't been with you long, so I would give it time. She might not want to do anything for many different reasons, including looking "stupid" as my son would say, even playing a dance game on the Wii.
Good luck.
With ALL my kids, we have had to point out portion sizes to them, weight issues or not. (Teenage boys eat a lot. LOL) They would go through a box of cereal in a day or 2. For my current kid, I buy cereal and put dates on the boxes when he can get a new one (weekly). There are usually 12-14 servings, so a box a week seems reasonable to me. Same with snacks. I give so much each week and he can eat it all at once or throughout the week. He IS active though, so he burns off what he eats. I got toaster strudels and had to tel him ONE was a serving, not 2.
She hasn't been with you long, so I would give it time. She might not want to do anything for many different reasons, including looking "stupid" as my son would say, even playing a dance game on the Wii.
Good luck.
Thanks for bringing this discussion back into the stream, Juli!
Reading through the thread, I just wanted to throw in my two bits. Having struggled with an eating disorder myself as a teen and young adult, I feel pretty confident saying that no amount of health coaching is going to help these girls get healthier. They can know everything about eating healthier and staying active, but food is a coping mechanism for them right now, and until they can find peace with their situations and learn how to address their emotions in a positive way, nothing is going to stop them. They are going to have to learn to truly love themselves and learn how to cope with discomfort.
I'd recommend Dialectical Behavioral Therapy for helping them learn the skills they need to work through the trauma that's triggered their unhealthy habits.