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update on “diet soda” for the two-year-old post, Trust and “childhood obesity”

Posted by on Aug 24, 2011 in Blog Posts | 6 comments

One of my most commented on posts was about the 2 1/2 year old boy put on a diet and told by a pediatric nutritionist (as part of his treatment at a University pediatric endocrinology and weight loss clinic) that diet soda and Crystal Lite were “preferred beverages” Remember that one? (If you have any concerns or interest in children and weight, I think it’s good reading…)

Here is the follow-up. We worked together for about 6 weeks, about 6 phone calls total, long initial call, and the rest were about 30 minutes for support in the transition to the Trust Model. The transition is scary for parents, because restricted children will eat alarming amounts initially, which this little guy did for about a month.  Here is what Mom said…

Hi Katja!

I’ve been meaning to email you to thank you for all of your help.  The last few weeks have been MUCH easier! He is like a different child, occasionally finishing his meals but not always. We went to the bagel store for lunch today and he only ate 1/4 of the bagel.  This a totally different boy than the one who consumed 2 1/2 bagels in a sitting only a month ago.
Thanks again, We are so very grateful…


I mention lots of stories, and sometimes I forget that people need to hear the “happy ending.” I know I did when I started with this model in my family!  I’ll try to be better to share those stories! I recently checked in with this mom (recovered from and eating disorder, which was why her son’s obsession with food was so alarming, and both are doing great!)

What do you think? Have you tried a diet (tried to get your child to eat less or limited portions) for your toddler? How did it feel? Did you get a food-obsessed little one on your hands? Have you struggled with an eating disorder and now have an “obese” child? How are you handling things?

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  1. Kate


    As you know I was dieting before preschool and it has destroyed my relationship with food nor has it made me thin. Thank you for fighting back against the status quo of dieting. I don’t have kids, but I already know little kids who worry about their weight and it scares me. Thanks for fighting the status quo.

  2. Traci

    I have just discovered this thread (and Ellyn’s books) and also have a 3 year old who is just food obsessed. I also have just ‘discovered’ my role in making her this way by restricting food (she was a big eater from the start and as a first time mom who saw other 1 year olds just picking and my daughter chowing platefulls of food) I was alarmed. Yes, I also had an eating disorder in my teens and early twenties. I have just finished Ellyn’s book and am looking for any help or support I can now get. We always do family meals and now i’m allowing her to eat as much as she desires. My big question/dilemma is with snacks and giving as much as she wants, do I put a whole bag of animal crackers or breadsticks or whatever snack is for that day and just let her eat the entire thing the first few days, OR do I give her a cup full and when she ASKS for more give her some more? I am so afraid now of doing anything to keep restricting her. It breaks my heart to see her act like a starved person and just shovel food into her mouth. I have asked my doctor for the past 2 years about her eating and of course, she looks normal (she is 40 inches tall and about 35 lbs) but that is because we do ‘restrict’ her.
    Anyone who has gone through this, can you give me any ‘coping mechanisms’ for watching her now with these ‘unrestricted’ snacktimes. Yesterday I gave her the italian breadsticks (kind of like a long pretzel looking) and normally i would give her 2-3 (they are really long!) and giving her the whole package, she ate 20 of them (that was about 600 calories worth) we then went out to dinner afterwards and she ate an entire kids pizza (much more slowly than normal, but she did eat it all!) and a small sundae (it was my birthday so we did share this). I just find it so hard to watch her eat and eat and eat and not say anything. Please any tips or hints to get me through the first (really hard) few weeks of watching her eat uncontrollably?
    Thank you so much!!

    • katja

      Hi Traci, I am so sorry you are struggling with this. it is indeed really hard to transition to the trust model after restricting. Your daughter will ear more for a few weeks. My experience is that IF parents are able to trust and stop restricting it should be around 4-6 weeks for a 3 year old, but it is VERY hard to do as most parents still restrict in subtle ways, that they themselves aren’t even aware of, or they freak out by the temporary larger intake and go back to restricting. I would suggest you “fan” me on FB, and post a question looking for support. Also, read through my blog posts on “obesity” and “childhood obesity” and read the comments. Often parents will write about their experiences. I did a video on snacks, which may help. and another on feeding “big” kids, which would apply to you. That may help. Also, I offer support to parents who are in transition. Having someone to talk to who has been there (i did this with our “bug eater” when she was about 16 months) who also knows the research, and has had clinical experience helping other families, might help. You can reach me through my email on my website. . Also, ellyn satter is on FB, at Good luck, and hang in there. This is hard stuff! Having a mantra, like “Trust Susie” can also help. Watching for times when she doesn’t eat everything on her plate, or goes off to play, gripping your chair, holding your partners hand under the table, “fake it till you make it” are all strategies to help get through the meals. But, ultimately having confidence in how you are applying the strategies will help. (Sounds like you still have some questions.) reading through under “how to feed” short articles will help too. Keep us posted!

  3. Heidi Bortel

    After reading one of Ellyn Satter’s books, I realized my 3, almost 4 year old daughter’s weight began to spike right after our pediatrician said we needed to start restricting her diet. It has been a very tense year and a half. I felt like I was losing my mind; I was always stressed, obsessed, nervous, and had a lot of anger issues because I could not ‘control’ my daughter’s eating. It caused horrible potty training issues, constipation and ‘holding’, or encopresis as well. It had a negative effect on our relationship, my marriage, and the whole atmostphere in our home.
    I only read Ellyn’s book two weeks ago, but I put her common-sense ideology into place immediately. It sounds crazy, but her appetite is already regulating, she leaves a lot of food on her plate she has a normal bowel movement everyday, and our relationship is so much better – and we’re happy!! It’s amazing that one book can change so many lives – and it’s so simple. It’s not always EASY, it takes effort, but there are so many improvements: night and day. All of the negative effects were from me, pressured by society and the medical community,(or because of what I thought I SHOULD be doing as a parent) trying to control my daughter. You cannot force a diet on a preschooler!!! It backfires every time – and everyone is miserable. My daughter was acting like adults who had lived through the Depression; thinking food was getting ‘wasted’, hoarding food, etc. Anyway, I could go on and on – suffice to say – predictable, scheduled, family snacks and meals – with ‘forbidden’ food thrown in once in a while for good measure, is the way to go !!!!

    • katja

      thank you, and AMAZING! It is such a stark difference, having been there myself. It feels nothing short of a blessing in my life. Sounds like you are a convert! I give every pregnant mom I know a copy of Child of Mine! Keep spreading the word 🙂

  4. Emgee

    Great work, Katja! It works! As a yoyo dieter all my life, who ia now fat and trying to follow HAES, I know how hard it is to not pass my issues on to my 2 boys.