The Summer of Health

Buddy was born a skinny little thing!  My sister nicknamed him The Worm.  The pediatricians were worried about his weight and threatened to declare him failure to thrive if he didn’t gain weight. 

“You should see his Dad.  If you saw him you would not be worried.”

Man has the same size waist he had in high school.  That would be a 28 inch waist.  The Man is lean!  I finally got Man to take him to one of Buddy’s Well Baby visits and the doctor never mentioned Bud’s weight again. 

Bug was a chubby little round baby.  He was not exceptionally large but he was much more filled out than Buddy had been.  While most babies work up their nursing time from 5 min. on each breast to 15 minutes, Bug took to breastfeeding at 10 min on each breast right out of the womb.  The nurses on staff were very impressed!  He had a juicy little bum (like his Daddy’s) that diapers could not contain.  There was always this little bit of booty hanging out as if he was wearing cheekers.  I called him Nalgas, Spanish for butt cheeks.  We also referred to the exposed bum cheeks as his Love Chunks. 

As Bug filled out I stopped calling him Love Chunk because I was worried people I would think I was referring to his chubbiness.  Bug was passionate about food, as he is now.  Part of it is his calling to be a chef.  At the age of three we would bake together.  He would smell every ingredient before we entered it into the bowl.  By four he had made escargot.  At age 6 tiramisu and age 7 creme brule.  He can also fry a perfect egg, scramble them, make oatmeal and other basic meals.  He likes to add his own garnishes and seasonings to make them his own.  I’m glad he has a hobby but the obsession is concerning.

Bug is never full.  After breakfast he’ll ask what’s for lunch and so forth.  He asks for dessert after every meal, every day, even though I rarely make dessert.  He eats whole cucumbers for a snack, just chomping away at it like it’s a pickle.  He’s eaten a whole bundle of celery as well.  Those things don’t bother me because they are healthy foods but he has also been known to eat four hot dogs or three slices of pizza.

Old folks love to feed him!  I think because it’s not often to find a kid who will eat anything.  So they give him seconds, thirds and so forth to his little hearts content.  It makes me insane!  He’s hard to refuse, I know.  He’s so darn adorable when he asks for more and it is kind of funny to see a fat kid eat.  Seriously.  I know that sounds mean but you know it’s true!  When you see a Chub Monkey with food all around his mouth and he announces that he’s still sooooo hungry, it’s funny.  When he describes other non-food things as food, it’s funny.  When he saw my Grandma’s red leather couch he declared that it looked like a Red Velvet Cake!  Only Bug would see a couch as a pastry.  He told my very tall cousin that he looked just like a King Sized Kit Kat.  What?  Hysterical!

And alarming.

When I see truly obese children (typically with their obese parents) I get mad for them.  I have struggled with my weight since I was 12 years old and I am no where near obese!  These poor kids are set up for failure!  Am I doing the same with Bug?

I had one pediatrician in Texas express concern. 

“He needs to be more active,” he said as Bug spun around in circles in the middle of the exam room.

When we got home I suggested we take a bike ride.  Bug was all about it!  He loved to ride bikes.  When we got to the end of the driveway I said, “Right or Left Bug?  It’s your choice.  Where would you like to go?”

“Left!” he declared as he steered his bike in that direction.  “I’m riding my bike to Whataburger!!!  What will they say when I pull up on my bike in the drive thru?”

I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry.  He truly has a one track mind!

In Colorado I have asked our new doctor every visit if he is concerned about Bug’s weight.  He assures me that he’s fine.  He will thin out when he grows taller.  But he was starting to get teased at school for being fat.  He started weighing himself every day (not unlike his Mama…)  I have always thought that mothers of daughters should be careful of their attitudes and what they say regarding weight and body image but I was realizing mothers of boys had to as well.

We changed our lingo and instead of trying to lose weight or get skinny we were trying to be healthy and strong.  I encourage Bug to play outside and do more phyiscal games.  I said “no” to seconds but then Man or a friend or a relative would grant him his wish for seconds.  Or thirds. 

I’d ask friends for their opinions.

“Should I put him on a diet?”

Most said no, that he will grow into it like the pediatrician said.  Some dodge it by asking what the doctor said but I think several would like to shout “YES!” but fear hurting my feelings.  It’s delicate.  I can’t sit Bug down and say, “Dude your fat.  Go on a diet.”  We don’t say “fat” anymore.  But I also want him to know I’m serious about the “no seconds” and the exercise because he is teetering on being very unhealthy.

Snacks at school are often super yummy cupcakes for someones brithday or donuts for a special reward.  I recently red an article about a mom who put her daughter on a diet and she noted with frustration that if a peanut is brought into a school they practically send in special forces to rid the school of the threatening legune.  Much is done to protect kids with allergies but nothing to protect our kids who are struggling with their weight.

Before we left for Disney the boys had a test in Karate to earn their red belt.  During the class Bug apparently over extended in a lunge and strteched his ligaments around his knee cap.  We took him through Disney in a stroller.  When we got home I took him to his pediatrician.  He diagnosed it and said that Bug probably did not have the right form and also his weight may be a factor in the injury.  I noticed when they weighed him that he had gained 3 pounds since his last visit about a month ago! 

“So should I put him on a diet program?”

“No.  He’ll grow into his weight and his knees will get bigger and be able to better support him.”

I don’t buy it.  Bug is teetering on becoming obese if he is not already.  He’s not the kid who is so fat that his eyes are scrunched behind round cheeks but he has man boobs, a gut, and love handles.  The boys is fat.

I got on-line and researched food pyramids for kids.  It was alarming to me to find that most suggest 6-8 servings of grains!  I am a carb addict and try so hard to keep them out of my diet.  I was concerned about giving my kids that amount but article after article said there is no reason to limit a childs carbs.  They need the energy and they are growing.  They do need to be eating HEALTHY carbs.  Whole grain bread (which we have always done) not white, carbs from fruits and vegetables and not fruit juice or pancakes.

After a morning of research I ran to the grocery store to buy some poster board.  Once home I made pockets from the poster board and drew pictures of the boys bellies and labeled them “What’s in your belly?” 

Then I made pockets and drew a television on them and wrote “Stored energy for screen-time.”  I bought gold tokens from Party City.  For each hour of excercise the children do they will earn a token that is worth 15 minutes of screen-time.  Screen-time is time in front of a computer, a portable game unit, wii, or television.  If there is a screen in their face they are having screen-time.  Exercise can be outside play, yard work, or hiking.

Next I cut out strips of colored construction paper of various colors.  Each color represented a certain food group.  Green are veggies, orange for fruit, red for meat, etc.  I made a “wallet” out of poster board for each boy and filled them with the colored strips.  They each have 5 green strips because the food pyramid says they should have 5 veggies a day.  3 yellow strips to allow for 3 dairy a day.  As the boys have food they are to take a “Food Dollar” from their wallet and put it in their “belly.” 

According to the food pyramid: 2 meats, 2 fruit, 3 dairy, 5 veggies, 6 bread and cereal.

This way they know what foods they are eating.  If they are hungry and want a snack they can look in their wallet and see what sort of food they can afford.  The pyramid suggest 5 glasses of water a day but I made ours 5-8 because it is super dry here!  I also told the boys they can not have juice unless they have already had 5 glasses of water.  Pink slips represent junk food.  Junk snacks are fruit chewie snacks, granola bars, potato chips, or desserts.  Anything super salty or sugary.  Those are not in their wallets and can only be alloted to them by me.  I still have not figured that part out though.   I would like to say they can’t have any!  Dessert night is Friday night.  I don’t think it’s realistic though for my kids to only get dessert once a week.  For example:

When the kids came home yesterday I showed them our program. 

“Let’s see what we have already eaten today!”

We started with breakfast: oatmeal sweetened with maple syrup.  Cringe.  They already used a pink slip.

Lunch: turkey and cheese sandwich, juice, celery, mixed nuts and fruit chewies.  That’s another pink slip.

“Daddy gave us chocolate milk for our after school snack so that’s a dairy…” Bug said as he pulled out a yellow dairy slip.  It’s also another pink slip for the chocolate.

I pointed out to the boys how much sugar they had already had that day. 

“This is why I don’t give you desserts!  You are already way over on your sugar.”

My hope with this program is that it will open the boys eyes (and mine) to how much crap is actually going in and where we are short on the good foods.

I am open to suggestions for what would be an acceptable amount of pink slips.  I wanted it to be twice a week but I don’t know…once a day seems too much. 

Bug still does not know if he got his red belt.  His sensei is waiting until he returns to class to tell him.

“Mom, I don’t think I got my red belt and it’s your fault.  You have not been watching what I eat and so I hurt my knee because I’m too fat!”

This hurt.  It really, really hurt my feelings because of course this is what I think whenever I look at his fat little bum.  I let him get fat.  But it pissed me off too.

“Bug, it is unacceptable for you to blame other people for your mistakes.  I am trying to provide healthy choices for you to eat but it’s YOUR job to make those choices when I’m not around and it’s YOUR job to control how much you are eating.”

Tonight there was a party at school for a teacher who is retiring.  There was a veggie tray and a giant cake and punch with ice cream floating in it.  Bug took the huge slice of cake offered him and a cup of ice cream punch.

I cried.

Over dinner tonight we discussed our healthy and not so healthy choices we made today. 

“This summer we are getting healthy!” I declared.  “We are also finding a church!  I miss Woodsedge back in Texas…  Boys, what are you looking for in a church?”

“I would like to be able to sing in church.  It annoys me that none of the other boys sing.  Just girls.  Then I’m embarassed to sing,” Buddy said.

“Bug?  How about you?  What do you think is important in church?”

“I want a church that serves lots of donuts, cake and other sugary goodnesses!”

So I have one boy where I can see every bone in his body and the other who has cellulite on his belly.  Same house.  Same foods offered.  Different attitudes.



About buddyandbug

Man and I moved from Texas to Colorado with Buddy and Bug. This blog is a chronicle of our adventures as we deal with homesickness and adjust to Mountain Living. “If you are a dreamer,come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” ~ Shel Silverstein
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7 Responses to The Summer of Health

  1. sharib22 says:

    sounds like you are on the right track!! we eat low glycemic (helps curb the craving of carbs and sugar) and take high quality supplements! Zoe begs for her vitamin every day! ha…if you are ever interested in it, let me know.

  2. Olivia says:

    Love this!!!

  3. Claire Mello says:

    I definitely like this idea. I might have to look into doing something similar. We have a similar situation. Although Annie hasn’t reached the overweight status yet, there is potential there. She has a lot of height so that covers up some of her chub. She has always been on the bigger side and she eats very well. She is always asking for more, telling me she’s hungry, asking for sweet treats, etc. I think because she is a girl I have been over sensitive about it and therefore have always said no to seconds. They are allowed one “pink” a day, but normally it’s very small. Lily on the other hand is like Buddy….I can see through her and she is one ball of energy. Annie loves to play outside too, but she is very content to sit in front of the TV for hours if I would let her. She has a tendency to be lazy if I let her be and she has been like that since she was born. Ever seen a 15 month old just sit there for 45 minutes staring at a book or a puzzle? Again… same house, same food offered…. one kid in the 15th percentile and one in the 80th. I certainly don’t want Annie to struggle the way I have my ENTIRE life and yo yo back and forth. It’s hard and scary.

    • buddyandbug says:

      Yes I have seen a 15 month old sit for 45 min. and stare at a book or a puzzle or a tv show. It was BUG! Exactly like that. And lazy. Doesn’t even want to look for his shoes because then he would have to move from his spot on the floor. I feel ya!

  4. ssilverstein1 says:

    I’m sure you’ve thought of this, but wondering how you can get them more involved in the process… reading nutrition labels? Make it a competition? Let them pick out things from a Weight Watchers Cookbook or similar to cook for the family? And put them in charge of the grocery list? I love the concept of the slips and the bellies!! That is so creative! I think you should market it and start producing belly charts for others! You are NOT the only mom dealing with this! Then, get Olivia on board to do the publicity!! Done.

    • buddyandbug says:

      You are right, that is already a part of the plan and something I will mention in the next blog. This morning while Bug made his lunch I had him read the label for the condiments he planned to put on his wrap. He enjoyed that and was surprised to learn appropriate serving size. There is more to come on serving sizes! I found a great chart for kids on that.

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