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|Friday, August 26, 2011
|Good idea, bad title? My thoughts on "Maggie Goes on a Diet"
|by William Stratbucker, MD at 04:09 PM
Do we need more diet books for sale? What does the word "diet" even mean? Most people probably think of the word "diet" as meaning eating less for the purposes of losing weight. Others use the word to simply describe what we eat on a daily basis regardless of our weight status or whether we are trying to change what or how much we eat. It doesn't matter if we need more books on the subject of "diet" because they sell. They will keep coming.
A new book - Maggie Goes on a Diet - hits store shelves in October. I have seen the cover but it is not available to read yet, so, I haven't and neither have any of those discussing the book via social media. It's no surprise that the book is fueling online discussion. I would like to continue the discussion here.
Before you share your thoughts, let me explain something. I run a program at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital with several colleagues and our aim is to help obese children achieve a healthy weight. We do not simply suggest that children eat less. That is neither healthy nor likely to work in the long run. We do, however, recommend a diet. We don't typically use this word, but when we do, it is in the context that everyone has a diet. Some diets have been shown in research studies to lead an obese person toward a healthy weight. If you think of using red light, yellow light and green light labels on food choices as a "diet," then fine. Red light foods, for example, are those you would only consume in small amounts infrequently.
A diet is what, when, where, with whom, how fast and how much you eat and drink.
The new book has a concerning title. It seems to me that most people would interpret this to mean that the 14-year-old girl is starting to eat less. It is my hope that the author explains the true meaning of the word diet and that the teenager changes what, when, where, with whom, how fast and how much she eats and drinks. I also hope that the author talks about all of the other healthy choices a teenager can make to achieve a healthy weight like not smoke, get enough sleep, attend to her mental and physical health by visiting with a doctor among many others.
The other concerning issue with the book is that it is written about a 14-year-old but the intended reading audience is much younger - reportedly advertised to readers as young as six. Young children have many different concerns related to weight compared to a 14-year-old. Many with a body mass index (BMI) that puts them in the obese range do not need to lose weight. As long as the "diet" is modified and height growth continues, the BMI will drift lower over several months to years. A BMI should change over the course of time.
My last hope for the book is that it does not make it appear that these lifestyle changes are easy and that the weight changes for a 14-year-old come in an unrealistic period of time. Also, yes, teasing is commonly directed at children with obesity. This problem is getting added attention in schools but needs more. It appears that one of the outcomes of this girl's weight loss is to become popular in school and a star soccer player. I'm hoping instead that the author provides a more realistic outcome. The girl could, for example, share her thoughts about what it means to her to have achieved her goals toward living more healthy. She could describe her more active life and why she feels better adhering to goals like getting enough sleep and eating more nutritiously. She could describe how things have improved in her family life by incorporating more family meal time and active play time.
I don't know the author or his intentions. I hope they are good ones similar to those of us who work at the Healthy Weight Center. I challenge all of us to seek the information to live as healthy as possible. I also challenge you to post constructive comments related only to information you know, because like me, you haven't read this book either!
|Tuesday, August 16, 2011
|Fostering Creativity in Your Kids
|by William Stratbucker, MD at 11:52 AM
Guest blogger Amy Davis is a certified child life specialist at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.
Are you facing the last days of summer with a couple of bored kids on your hands? Right now, my own children (Keaton, age 4, and Caroline, 21 months) are young enough that they are easily entertained, but many parents tell me it's especially challenging at the end of summer keeping things exciting around the house. So, I'd like to give you a few tips on how to foster creativity in your child, and also take a moment to talk about why doing so is so important.
When a child is given time to express him- or herself creatively, such as through an art project, that child also is being given a chance to think on his or her own and make new discoveries. So, when you give your child crayons, glue and paper, understand that it is about more than just finding a fun activity to occupy time: you are helping your child discover who he or she is, and are helping to build decision-making skills that your child can benefit from now and throughout life.
5 Ways to Give Your Child a Creative "Boost" and Beat Summer Boredom
Now that we're coming up on the last days of summer, your child may be telling you that he or she is bored. As a parent, this can be frustrating; however, keep in mind that being bored is often your child's way of asking for attention. Also, when your child is in school, he or she is used to having a schedule. In summer, the structure disappears, and, unless you establish it, your child will likely get bored because he or she can't think of enough things to do on his or her own.
Here are some techniques you can use to give your child a "boost" in the right direction.
1. Ask open-ended questions.
By allowing your child to help you prepare dinner and clean up, for instance, you now have more time to spend with them before bedtime. When a parent praises a child, that child will want to continue to do things independently. Find random supplies from around your house-string, yarn, bottle caps, beads-whatever you'd like. Then ask questions such as, "What could we do with all of this? Build a castle? Make a dinosaur?" Sometimes there can be too many choices.
2. Brainstorm with your child.
3. Provide supplies, but let your child decide what to do with them.
4. Give your child encouragement
5. Include your child in what you are doing.
For instance, you may suggest to your child that he or she draw a picture, but your child doesn't know what to draw. It's good to help narrow down the choices. (Note that this is not just a technique for young children. For instance, perhaps you go online with your teen and find some interesting science experiments that can be done at home.) If your child asks a question, instead of immediately answering, ask, "What do you think?" or "Can you tell me more about it?"
Here are a few last specific suggestions: One thing that helps keep things interesting for my own children, and more organized for me, is to keep their toys in bins, and store some of them in a closet. When I notice my children getting bored with what's out, I let them choose a new bin out of the closet and put another back in.
One more tip that only takes a minute or two: On occasion, create a surprise "fun bag" to entertain your child. The night before, toss in whatever you'd like-it could be almost anything, like a used egg carton, ribbon, coins, tape, etc.-then the next day let your child open it and discover what's hidden inside. He or she can use the supplies to create whatever he or she wants.
Enjoy these last days of summer with kids at home.
- Amy Davis, CCLS