Moms Make the Real Difference in Fighting Childhood Obesity
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image by Space Commander

Any time women get together they’re going to talk about food, usually in conjunction to weight loss. As you might imagine, in the context of a personal training session, this discussion can get even deeper into our struggles with eating habits.

Lately, it seems the subject of Moms has also been intimately intertwined in our food challenges. It can be innocent enough, like the challenge of saying no to Mom’s chicken and dumplings or apple pie. Or it can be something more personal, how the mandate to clean our plates or watching Mom on a constant rotation of diets has shaped our own approach to eating and judging our bodies. There is anxiety from not living up to the expectations of a fitter (and slimmer) parent, with admonishments still coming when we reach for the breadbasket,

“Do you really need another piece? I thought you were on a diet?”

No more diets for us, Mom.

We are on a journey to health, fitness and a life that makes us whole and happy.

Perhaps it’s nothing emotional at all. It could simply be the bad habits of Mom (by environment or her own parents) that lead us down a path of poor nutrition.  My mom didn’t cook much (unless you count fish sticks and boil-in-bag turkey with gravy as cooking). Those dishes that she did cook were often full of fat and starch, just the things I loved. My favorites? Cheesy rice, fried potatoes and biscuits with bacon gravy. Potatoes and white bread were cheap and easy on our small food budget. Soda and Hi-C were my beverages of choice. Soda filled my grandparents refrigerator too, she was just passing on to me what was probably normal to her. When I went off on my own I simply didn’t’ know any better. I too lived off convenience foods and diet Coke.

We don’t have to take the same paths as our Moms.

My own Mom is even on a new path. After all, times and health have changed. No more Lean Pockets for her.

I won’t use this post to give advice to Moms on how to do their jobs. I don’t have kids of my own, so I often feel like I lack credibility in this subject. I can take my nephew to the Farmer’s Market and keep him off soda for the weekend, but I don’t have to deal with the day to day.

I applaud my friends who are Moms and trying to do better than perhaps what we grew up with. I love it when they give their kids chia seeds and lentil burgers (not together, that might be a little much). I love seeing them taking their kids out in jogging strollers and on hiking excursions. They still have body issues, just like any woman, but instead of worrying about dieting they are simply focusing on living healthy.

Fit Moms are creating a new normal.

This new normal is really the only thing that is going to stem the tide of childhood obesity that is threatening to overwhelm our healthcare system and produce a generation that will not live longer than their parents. Today, 1 in 3 children are already overweight or obese. These children are getting diseases that used to only plague adults, like hypertension and type 2 diabetes. The CDC says our health care bill for this new epidemic is reaching $14 billion annually.

There are many laws, like limiting soda sales and changing school lunches, being proposed as the solution to the childhood obesity epidemic. I think they are a good start but not the real solution. I know first hand that nutritional habits are shaped by those closest to us in our early years, the impact that Mom has on how we eat and how we think about our bodies. The real solution is the work of Fit Moms everywhere.

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