What are we doing to our kids????? And WHY????

I used to be morbidly obese.  Most of you know that.  I was 326 pounds in 2008 and had gastric bypass and decided to take control of my life and get my health back.  I am a work in progress and will be forever.  I was forced to face my food addiction and to completely change my life.  Just like an alcoholic has to live with their addiction daily, so do I.

FACTS: and these tend to be true for many of us who were once morbidly obese and who lost the weight.  It does not matter if you lost it through surgical or non-surgical means, they still are likely to apply to you if you grew up as an obese child and young adult. If you are still obese, then you can really relate to these I am sure.

1. Kids at school could be cruel.  Most of us know the feeling of being picked on in some form or fashion.  I sure do.  From the bus driver in first grade calling me “big mama”, to the wretched kids in high school who missed out on getting to know a really nice person because they couldn’t see past my weight, I have heard and seen it all. My kids know that in this family, we do not ever pick on or make derogatory comments on someone’s weight. My kids also know that picking on a classmate or anyone else in the world about their weight is just as big an offense as picking on them about their race, religion, sexual orientation, or anything else along those lines.  Those things are just not acceptable in the Akey household.

2. We missed out on things like dances and prom. I didn’t go to too many dances in school.  I went to two only with a date and one with girlfriends.  Many who were morbidly obese in their young years didn’t get to go to any at all.  Those can be tough memories.

3. We missed out on team sports and team activities. How many of us who were obese teens got to be a cheerleader or play on the sports teams at our schools?  Not too many I would guess. How many of us stayed home on trips that involved swimming and other activities that could be deemed uncomfortable or put us in a vulnerable position?

4. We didn’t get to dress like the other kids many times. Kids like to fit in and feel normal. It used to really bug me that I couldn’t wear a lot of the trendy styles and that certain brands of jeans just did not come in my size.  As an adult I don’t think about those things, but in the mind of a teenager or pre-teen, those are important issues.

I could go on and on and on, and I am sure every single on of us has our own personal set of  issues that were directly related to our being an overweight/obese child/teen.  Those are memories that many of us would care to forget.

Fast forward to the present.  We have chosen a path that takes us back to being healthy.  For some of us, the tool of choice was surgical and for other non-surgical.  The end result is still the same.  We are now a healthy and normal weight.  Our diets are totally different, or at least they should be.  We no longer stuff ourselves with processed garbage and empty carbs and loads of sugar.  We eat fewer carbs and try to keep them complex and not simple.  We eat a lot less and stay away from sweets and fast food and junk food.

This is all WONDERFUL!  We feel better and look better and our labs are great.  We exercise at least three times a week and are so much happier and healthier.  Getting control of our health is likely the best thing we have ever done for ourselves.

I ask you this very important question now.  IS THE REST OF THE FAMILY EATING HEALTHY?  I realize we cannot force adults to make changes in their diets.  Nothing saddens me more than hearing about situations where the spouse/partner is still eating the same garbage food they ate before the other half had weight loss surgery.  I just cannot wrap my brain around a partner who sees the amazing changes in the other person and still wants to pump garbage into their own bodies.  But that is another issue.

What we can control is what our kids are eating.  If you lost a tremendous amount of weight, and your kids are still eating the same way, then I urge you to do some soul-searching.  Dealing with unhealthy habits gets harder the older we get.  Children can be taught much more easily than adults to make better choices.  Why would you still feed your child fast food and snack cakes and donuts and chips and all of the same garbage food that led you to morbid obesity?

I know being a parent is hard.  Ben and I have five kids between us and two still at home.  It is tough,  for sure, but to me, seeing them walk in my shoes would be even tougher.  Would you want your kids to suffer the same things you did as a child?  Would you want them to be picked on and to miss out on activities and feel bad about themselves?  Of course not!  We love our children and want them to be happy.

When I was 326 pounds- 

my kids ate at the same places I did.  We went to fast food joints and I bought a lot of snacks and snack cakes and chips and soda and junk.  Once I decided to get healthy-

my husband and I decided to make it a family affair.  I tell people all the time that we all eat the same things.   I do not cook two meals (okay Ben does not cook two meals since he does 75% of the cooking.) We all eat healthy now.  Many people will look at me and roll their eyes and then proceed to tell me how that is just wrong to deprive my kids and how it just would not work with their family etc. etc.  My response to that?

BULLHOCKEY!  My kids are and were no different from anyone else’s.  They loved fast food and loved sweets and cookies and snack cakes and soda.  OF COURSE the first few weeks were hard.  They fussed and asked what happened to their favorite snacks. They thought we were cruel for not buying sodas and not letting them eat at the various fast food places that are on every corner.   I even had family members tell me that just because I was so fat, why did it mean I needed to deprive my kids of the goodies they love?

My first question…..when did these goodies become accepted staples in our diets?  Our parents and grandparents didn’t have fast food every week and didn’t have snack cakes in the house at all times.  i think they turned out just fine!   Oh, yes, and guess what?  THEY WERE NOT AS OBESE AS OUR KIDS TODAY!

Do you even realize what you are giving your kids when you pull through that drive-through for the sake of convenience?  Here are some examples for you:

McDonald’s- cheeseburger, medium fries, meduim Coke- 890 calories, 31 grams of fat,  1035 mg of sodium.  

Burger King- original chicken sandwich, small fries, medium Coke- 1230 calories, 60 grams of fat, 2160 mg of sodium.

Need I say more?  In the same amount of time it takes for you to drive to the fast food place, order, and take it home and eat, you could have spent that time in the kitchen with your child making a nice salad or healthy meal together and improving not just their health, but bonding with them at the same time.

It takes no more time to grab an apple from the fridge as it does to grab a Twinkie from the pantry.  Which is going to help nourish your child better?

Most kids love to help in the kitchen and it is a proven statistic that kids who help their families prepare meals eat better.  I am not here to make anyone feel bad, but to make you wake up and think about the things you are putting into the bodies of your kids.  they deserve a healthy start and a healthy foundation.  It is our job and responsibility to give that to them.  

My children are NEVER rewarded with food.  EVER.  It has been three years since we purged the house of all of the garbage and guess what?  They do not miss it at all.  I asked them at dinner last night how they felt about the fact that their friends eat at fast food places quite often and their friends’ parents buy sodas and cookies and all of those things and we do not.  Both of them looked a little puzzled and both said they really just do not think about it anymore.

That is my point.  Kids are easily trained.  If you make the effort to train them to be healthier, they will do it.  My kids still eat snacks after school every day.  What do we keep for them?  Fresh fruit, peanut butter, cheese crackers, and yes some things I would not eat, but that are way less offensive than the sweets and garbage they used to eat. would you rather give your child a Twinkie or a pack of peanut butter crackers?

They are both very athletic.  Connor is s runner and even little Reed has done many 5 and 10k’s with us.

It didn’t happen overnight and of course there were some battles in the beginning.  are our children not the most important things in our lives?  Do we not want to give them the best of everything?   If so then why are we poisoning them with junk food while we try to get healthy?

My kids now do not even EVER ask to go to a fast food restaurant.  Once you create a healthy habit, it tends to stick with them.  They do not ask for sodas, however occasionally when we are out to dinner, we let them order a regular Coke.  It is a TREAT and not a habit.  Do they eat perfectly every day?  Of course not.  i do not either.  This is not about perfection but about making good choices one at a time that lead to better habits for a lifetime.

As a parent, why would we want to see our kids go down the road of obesity and its’ co-morbidities that we went down?  We owe it to our kids to give them a healthy start while they are young.  My good friend Dr. Connie Stapleton put it very well with this quote.

” Parents are the most influential people in their children’s lives.  Children are much more open to changing their habits through parental guidance.  This is especially true when parents do it with them and include them in decisions.  Behavior patterns are established early in life and the earlier we can establish good habits, the less difficult it will be later on.  Kids inherently want to please their parents and so they are much more eager to eat healthy with their parents.  Parents need to take responsibility and realize that just because kids can seem to ‘get away with’ eating less healthy with seemingly less adverse health effects at the time, there will come a time when the bad eating habits will catch up to them and result in similar health problems as their parents had.”

To me, this says it all.  Would you quit smoking and then allow someone to blow carcinogen-filled smoke into the face of your child?  Why then would you do all you could to fight the disease of obesity in yourself but not do all you could to prevent your children from suffering from the effects of the disease themselves?

We owe it to our kids to save them from the terrible path we took and save them from the emotional effects of being obese.  I would rather see my kids upset for a few days at the new food choices than see them upset and unhealthy from a lifetime of bad food.

I promise they will thank you one day.

The choice is yours.  Deprive your kids of garbage food or deprive them of a lifetime of good health?


About Erin Akey

I am a formerly morbidly obese wife, mother, Christian, author, speaker, water fitness instructor, nutritionist, anti-obesity advocate, and Emerald Ambassador with Plexus Worldwide. I am passionate about helping people fight the disease of obesity and also preventing and addressing obesity in children. I believe we have so many amazing tools available to treat this disease and we all need to take advantage of the ones we feel are right for us. I am also passionate about women taking the time to care for their needs. We live in a world where so many of us spend all of our time taking care of others that we neglect ourselves. I am all about making God the center of everything and letting His will take control of our lives and watching the beautiful blessings come from that release of power! Live, Laugh, and LOVE every day! Be grateful and be humble and watch the world around you change!
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One Response to What are we doing to our kids????? And WHY????

  1. Damn straight. I am proud of you guys for making the change in yourselves AND your family. It is not easy (of course), but you have shown it can be done — with a little commitment and a lot of love 🙂

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