My daughter is five years old. And is worried about being fat.
There, I said it.
After weeks of increasing pickiness that have peaked this week with my formerly healthy eater injesting only a bite or two at a meal, we're worried. And just a few days ago, we found out why: she's worried if she eats too much, she'll be fat.
The interesting part is that mom, who is more than a little overweight, is "just right" in her eyes. And I've been careful to never breathe a word about weight worries or dieting in our house, instead focusing on how we need to take a family walk or eat healthier instead.
And because we've tried to shelter her as much as possible, my only guess is to look at the messages she's exposed to elsewhere. Dieting messages are rampant in the media. Billboards, radio, television, you can't escape it. Even the ads on the Food Network - the ultimate celebration in food - focus heavily on what you should take when you eat too much of it.
The idea that my daughter has weight worries in kindergarten terrifies me. Granted, I've had close experience with watching a coworker's son battle an eating disorder in middle school. I expected to have discussions about the media and messages about health in a few years; I'm not naiive. I just wasn't ready for that talk yet.
However, now we're having to ramp up our talks, focusing on the positive (lots of foods are healthy and make us grow and be strong) and sadly, dabbling in the negatives of getting sick. And we've been trying to give lots of reinforcement and addressing her questions, reassuring her that we're not going to give her so much food that she gets fat, and really too much junk food is a big instigator of it all (in many cases).
We've decided to tap in my daughter's love of cooking and having her start helping me plan meals again, seeing if that won't spark her interest at mealtime. And we've decided the TV will stay off unless we're in the room and able to discuss what's on. Because little minds are curious minds, and you never know what ideas will stick.