Thursday, 27 September 2012

Carrying a little holiday weight

Does puppy fat exist?

I noticed towards the end of the last school year, and certainly after the summer holidays, that my boy was carrying a little more weight than he had done previously.

And BTW, doesn’t that make anyone else think of the Ross & Joey fire escape scene?

Anyway, since birth my son has always been a being of some consideration.


He was on the 91st percentile of measure for his weight and length from birth, and while his height position matched that of his weight on those useful graphs in the back of his health record, I was a very happy parent.

My instinct for him as an infant was to get him to eat well, healthily, but healthily for me at that age meant including a lot of fat.

In my most primitive of modes and moods, one’s I was rarely a stranger to in the aftermath of my wife passing away, I saw it as a necessity for survival.

What I mean is, that had Max got ill, refused to eat, or struggling to consume anything, then him having a fat store would equip him better to cope in recovery.

If he’d been a skinny-minnie, I thought, things like dehydration would kick in a lot, lot sooner if he was very ill.  And being bigger his body would have a food and fat store to equip him better to fight anything else.

After an initial twelve months of not letting anything bad pass his lips, and certainly not from my hand, I adopted an okay-if-you’ve-eaten-everything-else approach.

So if he’d had a healthy breakfast, he could have a biscuit before lunch.  If he polished off a fibre filled wholegrain sandwich and fruit at midday, he could have some sweets in the afternoon, and if his plate was emptied of meat and veg at dinner, he could have a sugary dessert.

My philosophy, and regularly cleaning his teeth, meant I considered him a healthy lad, one not inconsiderable, but certainly not anyone would call fat.

Not to his face anyway!

But seriously, he was solid, I was a little envious of his fine physique.  He was partly the reason I embarked on my own get-fit-not-fat after a summer of excess.

My beautiful boy’s build has always continued to please me, right up until this year.

See my approach of bad stuff being okay if you’ve had the good stuff had become outdated, and I’d not really updated it quickly enough.

In his formative years, my child has always refused food – no matter what it was – if he was full.  So I knew if he’d eat well and was still hungry a little snack was topping him up, and I’d give him a bigger portion of his healthy stuff the following day so he wouldn't ask.

But now, a little cuter and wiser, and used to my treat dishing out approach.  Max knew that if he could get through his dinner, he’d get whatever else he wanted, plus he’d got an increased capacity to eat when he wasn’t hungry.

I think his diet had got a little out of hand.

I notice it in his appearance.

And for my sins.

I weighed him.

Desperately trying not to make him overly conscious of his weight, but to check where he was versus his height.

It wasn’t a very formal weigh in, and he probably wouldn’t even recall doing it.

They’ve done a lot of education about being healthly at his school, and there have been occasions when he’s asked me: “Do you think I’m fat, Dad?”

Which of course I don’t but when he’s stood next to some of the school’s waifs, you could see how he may feel that way.

But I felt I needed to adopt a fresh approach to his diet.  So unhealthy snack food was essential eliminated from his weekday routine.

Making treats exactly as they are titled, a treat, rather than being an anticipated norm.  I read somewhere that two thirds of Brits can’t get through an afternoon without a sugary snack, and my Twitter feed is often full of folks proving that point.

I can’t control, and don’t want to for that matter, what he has when in the care of others, especially if he’s out with friends or staying with grandparents.

But by ensuring a very healthy week, and weekend when it’s me at the dietary wheel, it means he can enjoy treats at other times.

It appears I am not along with my concerns with a recent child obesity study published has led to people asking why do parents let their kids get fat?

There are many issues rolled into one here, and I guess it is an ongoing battle to raise a health conscious child, without raising one that worries him, or her, self into an eating disorder.

Interesting my plan and implemented changes not only appear to be working, my boy put up very little resistance to them, and understood the principles, I think I have his school to thank for some of that.

I’ll have to send them some biscuits.