Thursday, May 5, 2011

Discuss, please

During one of my school visits yesterday, I walked into the classroom with a box of cupcakes for my students. They had to take a survey and I said I would bring them a treat as a reward for finishing the survey. This school is 6-8 grade and all of the students that I meet with are 6th graders, 11 or just barely 12 years old.

Most of these girls are short and petite. One of the girls could pass as an 8th grader. Her face is much more mature and she is at least 4-5 inches taller than her classmates. Her body type is completely normal and average. I would never say she is overweight. I bet even her doctor would say she is completely normal for her age and height. 

Anyways, so I walk in with cupcakes and she says "uh oh, I can't have one. I'm on a diet." I have a hard time biting my tongue and I let slip "diet? Why are you on a diet?" She never gave me an answer. She didn't say because she thought she was fat or anything like that. She just said she wanted to go on a diet (Atkins to be exact) and that her mom supported her. Again, I really had to hold back giving my opinion because I didn't want her going home telling her mom how some random lady doesn't think she needs to diet.

But, like I said, I'm not good at holding back. I said "I'll just say that I don't think 6th graders should be going on a diet, certainly not Atkins." And I left it at that. For lunch, she was eating what looked like some sort of wrap (in a whole wheat tortilla, probably high protein?), an atkins bar and a Coke Zero. 

I see kids eating all sorts of crap for lunch. A large bag of Cheetos. A coke and some oreos. Or nothing at all. Another student lost her dollar for lunch so I gave her a buck and she came back with a soft pretzel. 

Now, I don't have kids (you didn't know that, huh? haha) so I don't want to be judging anyone and I don't know what this mother said to her perfectly normal daughter when she said she wanted to go on a diet. Maybe she took her to a doctor and the doctor approved it. Maybe not. My thoughts behind this girls decision? She is taller than everyone else in her class and therefore her body is shaped differently. These girls that are 5 feet and 90 pounds will hit a growth spurt eventually but the girl I'm talking about already has. And because of that, she feels bigger and perhaps fatter than her peers.

What say you? Would you allow your 11 year old daughter to go on the Atkin's Diet? Would you support her decision to diet when she clearly is just comparing her body against the body of girls who haven't gone through puberty yet? I'd love to know what you think!


Lynsey Kaye said...

I am also not a mother so I have a hard time answering with the most certainty.

I would definitely encourage my children to make healthier choices (healthier than cheetos and soft pretzels for lunch). But, I would not promote a specific diet such at Atkins.

I think it is unfortunate that this young girl is comparing herself to other girls who have not quite developed yet.

Cathleya said...

Not a mother either, but no. I would not let my child go on any sort of "scheme" diet (atkins, south beach)---the kind where you're "not allowed" to eat this or that.

Honestly at that age, all you need is sports. If you're playing sports, dieting is not even a vocabulary word. Not sporty? Dance then. Cheerleading. Gymnastics. There is something active out there for every child.

I ate double cheeseburgers consistently in high school out of nothing but SHEER NECESSITY. I swam 4 hours a day and if I didn't eat 5K calories I'd die.

Anyway, I recognize that childhood obesity is a real problem now, something that just "wasn't a thing" when we were kids. But still...I think the focus is moving too far away from good, old fashioned "if you don't feel good get off your ass and move."

You reacted the exact same way I would have.

LaurakC said...

Well I am a mother to 3 beautiful daughters and there is NO WAY I would ever allow or okay any of them going on any kind of diet (unless doctor recommended ie; diabetes & celiac or overweight due to bad food choices).

I encourage my girls to choose healthy food but definitely allow for some "junk" food too. There should always be a balance, but never a diet! That's just setting the child up for an eating disorder IMO. My girls know its all about being healthy not about weight or looking a certain way.

I feel very sorry for that young lady. Hopefully you can try and encourage her not to be on that silly diet!