Beat The Monday Blues
The Cholesterol Myth
Make it Low Carb!
Great Low Carb Ice Creams
Just Say Cheese
Glycemic Index vs Load
Low Carb Grows Up!
Dreamfields Readers' Forum
An Open Letter to My Mother
The Weight Loss Alphabet
The Story of Mother's Day
Soothing Sounds of Music
Teach Your Children Well
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"A child's job is to test her boundaries..."
a parent's is to see that she survives the test."
— Dr. Roger MacDonald
Like most mothers, I want the very best for my children and strive to be the perfect mom. Like most
humans, I am not even in the same zip code as perfection. In reality, I live in the land of
"good enough," which is not a bad neighborhood most days.
Having come of age in the generation where adult children were encouraged to blame their parents
for their obesity problems, I was determined to not make the same errors that the previous
generation had when it came to food. At my house, there were no clean plate clubs - no sad
stories about starving children in China. When it came to the care and feeding of children,
my basic philosophy evolved along the lines of throwing the food down in front of the kid
and if he ate it, great. If not, then he'd eat it when he gets hungry enough. I'd seen too
many parents turn meal time into a power struggle with their children, and I refused to beg,
cajole or bribe my children to do something as natural as eating. Either this was a brilliant
stroke of mothering on my part, or I was just fortunate enough to have given birth to two very
hearty eaters. There were no power struggles over food.
My laid back attitude about food carried over into liberal ideas about what constituted good
nutrition. I never restricted sweets, I bought them candy, and during the leanest financial
times of my early years as a single mom, our meal plans revolved around which fast food
restaurant was offering free kids meals. I guess you could say that I was lucky that my kids
didn't develop a weight problem.
But, I was not so lucky when it came to my own weight. Of course, there were other factors
besides our fast food lifestyle that contributed to my weight problem, not the least of which
was undiagnosed polycystic ovarian syndrome. Even after I came to accept the role of insulin
resistance in my weight problem, it still took me some time to develop the mindset necessary
to give up the bread, sweets, and high carb foods that were the basis of my diet. But, once
I made that decision 2 years and over 100 pounds ago, I never once looked back.
In spite of my success on the Atkins plan, I am still a hypocrite when it comes to my diet.
I still feed my kids the way I always have. When they eat pizza, I eat steak. When they
have their favorite pasta dish, I am chowing down on a grilled pork chop. When fast food is
the only option, I order a grilled chicken salad, and they get triple cheeseburgers and super
size fries if they choose. Granted, we do that a great deal less than we did before I started
Atkins. But, you still won't find me scouring the grocery aisles searching for evidence of high
fructose corn syrup or transfats. The perfect mom that sits on my right shoulder chastises me
for sentencing them to a lifetime of health problems for no other reason than convenience and
the fact that I don't want to fight with them over food.
On the other hand, I don't think they need to live the low carb life to the extreme degree that
I do. I believe that I'm teaching them more about nutrition and weight control by my example
than I do trying to force my particular eating plan down their throats.
For example, one Sunday morning my son and I were watching an interview with the Wendy Shanker,
who wrote the book The Fat Girl's Guide to Life. The basic premise of her book was that the
overweight in the world simply need to accept their lot in life and get on with the business of
living. Essentially, she was stating it was an exercise in futility for the obese to even try
to lose weight. With the great majority of dieters failing miserably in their efforts to
lose those extra pounds, she makes a good argument. She kind of lost me though, as she poked
lemon tartlets into her pie hole during the interview. In spite of that, she was convincing
enough that after the piece was over, my son looked at me and said, "you know mom, if I had
not seen you lose all the weight you have, I would have believed everything she just said."
This discussion helped me to realize that my children are indeed learning from my example in
ways that are more profound than simply what and what not to eat. The following are a few
important lessons I believe my children have learned through my journey to health:
Persistence Pays — My children have seen me struggle with my weight and diets most of my
adult life. It wasn't until the last couple of years that I enjoyed any real success.
Diet after diet, and plan after plan failed. After nearly 20 years of that, what hope
could I have that this last time would be any different? In fact, shortly before I started
low-carbing my son spied me looking over one of the many women's magazines touting the
latest weight loss miracle in the grocery checkout lane. He rolled his eyes and said, "mom,
buying more of those magazines is not going to help you either." I believe at that point,
perhaps my children were giving up on me, too. Fortunately, the end result was that I
found what worked for me and they learned the valuable lesson that one must never give
up searching for answers. Thomas Edison put this lesson into words best when he stated
the oft-quoted line, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
Believe in Yourself When No One Else Does — Although low carb was enjoying resurgence in
popularity when I began, I had no shortage of professionals and lay people alike trying to
discourage me. The media backlash against low carb was particularly vicious, and full of
fear inducing hype. I did my research, I knew why I had chosen my plan, and I forged ahead
in spite of the rising chorus of voices warning me of the dangers. In addition to the
opponents of low carb, there were those who simply knew me and knew my track record and
let me know in a number of ways that my efforts would come to the same end as all the other
attempts. And like the lady in the news story who was touting acceptance of obesity as a
natural state, there are always plenty of people who will encourage you to just give up.
It is Never too Late to Do the Right Thing — Being obese cost me years of my life. Between
the accompanying depression and ill health, my quality of life was rather low. As a single
parent, I felt guilty because my limitations affected my children's lives as well. I
couldn't be the parent I wanted to be and participate in their activities to the degree I
would have liked. In addition, the damage to my body from all those years of obesity will
never fully be resolved outside of surgery. Even with surgery, there will be scars. At
nearly 40 years old, I could have easily said, "why bother?" I had missed my "peak" in
terms of physical attractiveness, and I'd never get those years back with my kids. I had
to forgive myself for the damage I did to my body and how it affected my life and the
lives of those I cared about. Clearly, there wasn't much I could do about the past. But,
the future, however much there is left of it, is always worth the effort involved to make
These are but a few lessons I believe my children have learned from my weight loss
journey — lessons about life that will serve them well whether they ever struggle with
their weight or not. If they do, hopefully I've armed them with the information as well
as the mental tools to successfully deal with it. In the meantime, I still say, "let
them eat cake!" (In moderation, of course!)
Copyright © May 2005 LeAnne Thomas and Low Carb Luxury