I’m feeling vindicated this evening.
All the struggles we’ve had with L. and his weight…all the conversations and hoopla with his pediatrician…all the stress and worry and trying to stand up for our convictions and what we KNEW was right for our son and our family…I won’t say it’s all over, but I’ll say that we are in a very, very good place.
We went to the doctor’s office today for yet another developmental evaluation and weight check for L. I’ve been sick to my stomach about it for weeks. At the last appointment, we were told essentially that he was “the fat kid” (yes, in those words), and that we needed to make drastic changes in order to avoid a severe obesity problem. The goal for today’s visit was that in the past 2 months, he would have grown a bit taller — but maintained his weight. No gain. That was what we were shooting for.
At the time, it seemed almost impossible. We were doing so much, working so hard, to make sure that our kids had the best diets we could provide for them. No processed foods, everything scratch-made, fewer and fewer refined flours or sugars, tons of fresh produce. Salads and smoothies and whole-wheat everything dominated our kitchen. And while one child, little P., thrived and grew skinny, skinny, skinny and strong….L. was just big. How could I possibly get him not to gain weight over the course of 8+ weeks, when I didn’t really understand what was making him gain in the first place?
HE LOST ALMOST THREE POUNDS.
I’m staring at those words and still finding it hard to believe. He grew a couple of inches, and he lost nearly three pounds, which for a kid who’s not quite five years old is pretty significant. We’re talking about more than five percent of his body weight, gone in less than a summer, and we didn’t do a damned thing.
Okay, that’s not fully accurate. We did do a FEW things. But what really gets me about this is that we did not do ANY of the things the pediatrician wanted us to do. She wanted us to cut out ALL sweets — and I mean ALL. When I mentioned something about a cookie per week, the idea was soundly rejected. We’ve not done that. We’ve tried to help L. choose certain times during the week when he may have a treat, and limited those opportunities perhaps slightly more than before, but he’s had plenty of ice cream and frozen lemonade and other summery delights since that fateful appointment.
She wanted us to put him on skim milk, so he could save a couple of dozen calories per serving. We did not. I don’t personally believe that skim milk is a great choice, particularly for kids; many valuable nutrients, INCLUDING the fat itself, are conveyed more easily to the child’s body through higher-fat dairy. We’re not whole milk drinkers, but 1% or 2% organic milk, I’m thoroughly convinced, is not the cause of childhood obesity.
She wanted us to start measuring his portions and making sure that he got only set amounts — basically, in my mind, restriction. We did not do that, either. We instead opted to start him with slightly smaller portions of everything and ask him to evaluate his hunger level before giving him more; but he’s gotten more whenever he’s really felt hungry. The other morning, he woke up ravenous, ran around the house with his brother, and scarfed down two bowls of plain Cheerios before dashing outside to play. I’m pretty sure the Cheerios are not making him fat.
She wanted us to eliminate the dried fruit from his lunches, because “it’s high in sugar and calories.” Well, duh — it’s fruit. We didn’t do that, either. I have given it to him a bit less often, like 2-3 times a week rather than every day, but 1/4 cup of dried organic mango with his sandwich and applesauce is not a huge splurge, in my humble opinion as his mother.
So…not one. Not one of her recommendations did we actually take. We took a stand, as his parents, and we drew a deep breath and examined our household and our habits. We tweaked things here and there. And while we were tweaking, our little boy suddenly matured. And grew. And lost weight. And doesn’t know that we were thinking about his weight at all, which is EXACTLY how I want it.
We left him alone and fed him the way we think smart, healthy kids should be fed, and we let him run around and get lots of fresh air and exercise. And today, I had the satisfaction of hearing his pediatrician say to me, “Whatever you are doing, it is clearly working. He’ll be at an ideal body weight in no time.” (By the way, I ran the BMI numbers myself later on — he’s about either a pound or an inch away from “ideal.”)
I’ve got to say, having her look me in the eye and tell me “I am very, very pleased with everything about him right now — he looks great and has made tremendous progress with all of the things we’ve been watching” felt AMAZING. For once, just once in the past year, I got to talk to her about how great my kid is. We talked about his phenomenal literacy level and his great sense of humor and how proud we are that he’s learned to swim, even though for a child with his motor disability, swimming can be tough to master. We talked about how he wants to start karate lessons and how he’s making real friends for maybe the first time in his life, and going to parties and playdates and having his very own birthday party in a couple of weeks with lots of other kids. We talked about L. Not his body shape or size, but L. And the relief I felt was indescribable.
J. hasn’t said much about today — he’s not much for talking about these things anyway — but when he held L. in his arms just a little longer than usual, and kissed his hair an extra time, and said “Daddy is so, so proud of you,” I could tell he felt the same way I did. Relieved, and happy, and renewed in my convictions — and proud of ALL of us. I know there are probably years of being careful about L.’s weight and health ahead of us, but for today, I’m just focusing on the good news; which is that we didn’t back down, and we did what we felt was right, and it WORKED. Better than we could have expected.