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talking to your kids about food

Posted by on Dec 8, 2010 in Blog Posts | 13 comments

Here’s a link to an article I wrote last year about talking to kids about food. It’s on the Wedge coop home page again in light of the recent news stories about more children being diagnosed with eating disorders. How can we deal with food and fitness in a positive, developmentally appropriate way?

I share one of my favorite stories about little Sally at our local park and how her Dad took health recommendations too far..

How have you seen parents doing what “the experts” recommend, when it clearly was not the “right” thing to do?

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  1. restless native

    I just re-read. I should have said, “physical balance” in the last sentence in the first paragraph. Thanks!

  2. restless native

    Actually, swinging–particularly when pumping your legs to propel the swing higher yourself, but also if someone is pushing you–is an excellent exercise/movement for anyone’s body. It loosens and tones the hip joints, it strengthens the hands and wrists, it enhances bodily balance, it gently tones the abdominal muscles, and it helps to drain the lymphatic system.

    Some of these things are not accomplished at all by running around.

    Swinging is just great. And it’s easy on the knees and ankles.

    If you don’t have a swing in your back yard, have Santa bring one.

  3. Anna

    I dig your article, but the fact you had to write it is depressing. I remember being a kid and enjoying exercise, until school sport came along and sucked all the fun out of it.

    You know, thinking about it now, I would probably have kept exercising all through my childhood if not for how I was shamed and picked on in school sport. It made me feel like I wasn’t ALLOWED to enjoy exercise anymore, because I wasn’t super fast or super co ordinated or whatever. I’m still working on enjoying something and not dropping into a shame spiral if I’m not automatically the best at it.

  4. Jennifer

    I think it’s the “supervised” part of the directive that particularily annoys me. It seems to imply that children need adult interference to exercise. How will children ever exercise without adult guidance! Just look at that girl on the swings. Lazy, lazy, lazy. A personal trainer would never let her get away with that.

    Though,I’m sure it is mainly meant as a warning to let us know that if our children get hurt while “exercising” it is our fault for not supervising adequately. More of the “you can never be too safe” message I’m sick of hearing and that I think is having some pretty serious negative consequences in our society.

    • katja

      I also wonder if “supervised” means “make sure it’s vigorous…” kind of thing. I also think it pushed kids into team activities which are so much more of a hassle and cost than just having the kids play in the yard…There is just way too much adult interferance. I agree. There is also a note of the “CYA” in the supervised so if the kid gets hurt, the expert can say, “We said supervised!”

  5. Ben Edwards

    Wow. I cannot believe how sane your advice is. Exercise should be fun, not a chore. You are truly a voice in the wilderness when it comes to these issues.

    • katja

      Thanks for that. I do feel like I’m “whistling in a hurricane” sometimes, as my mentor says, but maybe we can all start whistling and be heard! Welcome to the blog comments, and please share this info if you feel so inclined! (Fan Family Feeding Dynamics on FB or just hit the share button.) We make everything into a chore for kids, from eating veggies to exercise and it’s a turn off…

  6. Emgee

    How we teach kids to exercise is one of my main frustrations. From my mother’s, “Go run around the house” to the humiliation of school gym class (remember the rope?), we as a nation do not teach kids to love exercise. Now I go to Jazzercise because I enjoy it and it keeps me healthy, and we have fun. Isn’t that the point?

    • katja

      I totally agree. The end goal of exercise is weight control, burning calories etc. it saps the fun out of it (another ‘should’) I just had to buy polar boots so I could stand outside after school while she plays with the kids on the giant snowbank at her school and not get frost bite. We seem to have lost much of the organic childhood play as exercise. We’ve taken to playing music and dancing. When she was younger we built obstacle courses out of cushions and tape. It’s not easy in a cold climate… Gym class is probably just as bad or worse with all the talk about obesity. One of the saddest examples is a local park that was recently closed bc of high arsenic levels (3M I think…) anyway, there is all this talk about obesity, exercise etc and here is the one area with fields and play equipment in a high density neighborhood and its closed indefinately…

  7. KellyK

    Ouch! Poor Sally. Lazy exercise indeed.

    • katja

      i know, right! The guidelines from some groups literally say, “One hour of vigorous supervised exercise daily outside of school” and “do not let a child be sedentary for more than 30 minutes…” Give me a break.

      • KellyK

        Don’t let a child be sedentary for more than 30 minutes? How are they supposed to do their homework? Or read a good book?

        • katja

          i know! maybe you need a punch clock or an alarm, and then they need to log in 1000 steps on their pedometer before they finish their homework… When will classrooms be fitted with treadmill desks? (though I might actually like that…)