What is the extend of our happiness which is determined by our weight?
By Dr. Sarah Itzhaki
My honeymoon began as a romantic cliché in Paris, but it did not end that way. A fluent English speaker that I am, it did me no good in this French speaking country, not even at the Science Museum. We approached the Astronomy section in all its variety of scales; their nature eluded me initially, yet I stepped on the first: It read 130 pounds. “I rock” the fair nymph that I was flew into the arms of my newlywed husband. He smiled, familiar with French but, at the time, not with a woman’s mind, and said: “that’s your weight on Venus, now try Terre, meaning earth.” I did. 143 pounds! In merely seconds I had transformed from a nymph to a monster, and all because of a number. Romance shifted to a croissant spree, nothing else mattered anyway.
If more than one third of the children are overweight or obese, they are not alone. Nor should they be regarded as something to be ashamed of. Guilt is no way to motivate, on the contrary, it sends one deeper into the fridge. Below are a few quotes from “guilty‘‘ parents, sometimes in the presence of their child:
“My son has gained so much weight I can roll him down the stairs”
“I took him for a walk, poor thing, it was so hard on him we ended with a big ice-cream cone and my husband picked us up on the way back.”
“She simply is never full, if I won’t stop her she will never stop eating”.
“Why should his skinny brother suffer? He can eat anything and never gain weight”.
“I don’t understand why she is fat. She only eats healthy food”. (…even when you’re not around?)
And yes, we already know what is important – family meals, drinking water, a variety of veggies and fruits, less screen time, sports, etc. Yet the overweight epidemic is all but decreasing. What’s going on?
The question is not so much what you do but rather why and how. Having my share of counseling sessions both in group and private therapy I have named the real cause: “wedding gift”
Before clarifying what I mean, here’s a thought, make a list or ponder what is your family’s all-time-favorite pastime. Write it down: _____
Well? Does it include the word Food with all its implications? Eating out? Do you use a price-per-plate as a measure for how much you should spend on the wedding gift? Is the word “Delicious” contemplated when asked “how much fun you had?” Is your kitchen the “heart” of your home? Do you provide snacks to your kids on a long drive for alleviating their boredom?
Our Lives revolves around food
In a life involving a hectic pace of work, raising children, furthering our careers, taking care of elderly parents, and constant financial strain, food is a major reward, a compensation and a temptation. Cheap-handy-immediate-indulging. The family pastime which is most easily maintained yet most rewarding .. barbecue, french fries, …. cakes, soft drinks.. now go on and tell your overweight child “don’t eat”. Yet even the other tip of the scale, healthy eaters, weight watchers who obsessively talk about healthy eating…this also constitutes over-involvement in food and eating.
Why do we want to lose wiglet?
Obviously in order to become happy and healthy! A rather heavy load on the weight issue in any planet. Let’s see, what really bothers us? Is it the weight? The shape? Or health? If my child is overweight yet is eating healthy, doing sports and generally healthy and happy, is it really a problem? And if my child is skinny yet lives on one food group, is it not a problem? If your physical shape or your weight are the criteria then “Houston, we have a problem”. When weight becomes the main concern it simply does not work. It‘s just like trying too hard to fall asleep. Such are the rules of thermodynamics – every force has a counterforce. Yet even those who manage to lose weight may find that happiness is not necessarily waiting for them around the corner. Therefore, pounds, being an objective measure, cannot serve as a subjective goal.
So what i propose
First of all, emphasize that the goal should be health and happiness. This can be done immediately. Weight becomes the outcome, not the measure nor the means. A weight off our shoulders, not so? This change in thinking is based on the following:
a. I think it is necessary to begin with the following observation to be able to move on: “I am not necessarily a good parent if my child is skinny, just as I am not necessarily a bad parent if my child is overweight. Pounds are no measure of my quality as a person or a parent.” Call for action – hug my child daily, buy him beautiful clothes at any weight, praise him for effort and success while ignoring failures, help develop his talents and encourage him to fulfill his responsibilities and chores. Only after this is done can we continue…
b. Food has become the center of our existence, and we must return it to its proper dimensions, namely, one plate on the table. The parent’s role is to ‘‘rewire‘‘ the child‘s brain so it does not connect between food and emotional states. Call for action – create a family atmosphere that is not necessarily food- related, where food is not a prize nor a punishment, nor is it a consolation. This will allow us to eat the cake and keep it (almost) whole, because one slice will suffice.
c. State of mind, sleep, healthy nutrition and physical activity -- in that order -- are the means in which we have control over our health. Call for action – only once points a and b above are fulfilled continue by making sure your child sleeps well, is active and provided with all the necessary nutrients, but don’t talk about it too much.
John Lennon said: “When I was five years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.‘‘
We must be patient and set an example to our kids. And if the weight does not go down quickly enough you can go to the science museum in France and hop on the Venus scale.
About Children, by Khallil Gibran
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life‘s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.