Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pickle Diet

A few days ago, Hilary informed me, "I'm going on a pickle diet."

"What does that mean?" I asked. "You mean, you're going to eat only pickles?"

"No," she said. "I'm going to stop eating pickles until I'm as skinny as Erika."

Wow. So many thoughts were swirling through my head - Is Erika really that much thinner than Hilary? This is all Hannah Montana's fault - I blurted out the first coherent sentence I could put together: "Honey, pickles don't make you fat."

In retrospect, that was probably beside the point.

This isn't the first time I've had a conversation like this with one of my daughters: when Erika was about six, she rejected her wardrobe of classic, little-girl dresses with empire waists because they made her, in her words, "look fat." It doesn't matter how careful I am not to lament in front of my kids about the ten pounds I just can't seem to lose - it's not big news that our culture is weight-obsessed. When Hilary was four, she had pneumonia and didn't eat for a week. When she finally returned to pre-school, the teachers couldn't stop gushing about how fabulous she looked.

But as much as I want my kids to have healthy body-images, I also don't want them to think that weight is unimportant. I never want them to have to deal with the social and physical consequences of being fat. They're not even close, not now, but frankly, virtually everyone in both Andy's and my families has struggled with weight issues at some point. It's unlikely that any of the kids (except possibly Aaron) will ever be able to eat whatever s/he wants, whenever s/he wants, without care.

Let me just say, it's an incredible fine line between raising healthy eaters and repressed, mother-hating anorexics. The best thing I feel I can do for my kids is teach them moderation, and praise them for making healthy choices. Sometimes, when they come to me for a snack, I'll ask them if they're really hungry. Needless to say, like every mother (especially of daughters), I carefully weigh each word that comes out of my mouth on this topic.

Or maybe I should just encourage them to eat more pickles.

No comments: