Photo from Mount Royal, Frisco, Colorado.

"Children are fascinated by the ordinary and can spend timeless moments watching sunlight play with dust. Their restlessness they learn from you. It is you who are thinking of there when you are here. It is you who thinks of then instead of now. Stop. Let your children become the teachers and you the student" - William Martin

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Ginger Spice and another (more important) topic

I haven't written in few days because I have been busy with things like not puking. Thank God. I have not been talking on the big white telephone, for the Danes reading this :).

After I wrote the last post, I started taking ginger 600 mg 3 x a day. I had prescribed this to many a nauseated pregnant woman in urgent care, but in the throes of my nausea, I forgot it even existed, that is until SR mentioned it (I was surprised that none of my informed readers mentioned it!). I actually took the first two pills while we were shopping (on an empty stomach) and then as we got to the register, I fell down to the growd in front of all of the check out lines and started horking. I thought I might actually die right there. SR calmly loaded the groceries into bags and paid, glancing up nonchalantly from time to time, as a crowd of concerned shoppers and workers garthered around me.

But after that, I stopped puking. My nausea hasn't entirely disappeared. And I still can't look at chocolate. But at least I have been able to work. Oh - and run! And you don't need to ask which is most important to me, because you all know.

----Natali's weight-----

Yes, the other topic. SR and I were called to a last-minute parent teacher conference. SR had arranged the time and assumed I could come, but that was my one day every two weeks I have patients during the day in clinic, so I couldn't. But I was sure the subject would be what a bad step mother I was.

But the reason her teachers called the meeting was they think she is overweight. I was shocked. She has been doing well with her weight since she moved here. But her teachers said we need to do something. They said she eats too much and doesn't exercise enough. (Let me just clarify that she bikes to a from school every day, has an hour of gym - where the often run for the whole hour once a week - swimming lessons once a week, and running for an hour with us every Saturday. But this -by Danish standards (and who am I kidding, also mine)- isn't enough).

SR called Natty from work to tell her what the teachers had said. She took it really, really hard. I fact she screamed and screamed, saying she would never go to school again. I was so worried. The last thing I want is for her to end up with an eating disorder because of this. I talked with her for an hour about how the most important thing is finding balance in eating: eating enough, but not too much. Eating healthy. And also taking care of her body by exercising. And guess what - she bought it - and so did I. Maybe I understood it for the first time in my life.

And maybe something good has come out of it. She went to an hour and a half of youth training at Scala (the gym I go to) today, where kids her age all run together (10 km on a treadmill) and then lift weights. And she loved it!

The truth is, she would already be considered healthy, maybe even thin, and getting plenty of exercise in the US. And no teacher would have ever said anything to her or us. And I told her that and it is our secret joke. You know, that Danes are crazy. But if I can convince her that taking care of her body and being aware of what she eats is cool and fun, then everyone wins.

Here's the part that I probably shouldn't write, but will. WHY does she have trouble keeping weight off compared to her friends? Why is she pudgy? Why does she think about eating so much? Well, it is really complex, of course. Genes contribute, but intrauterine environment is also very important in programming of kids future weight. It is so important for women to not gain too much weight or be overweight when pregnant - and to exercise. Studies have really just begun to show this in the last 5, maybe 10 years. But kids of moms who don't gain much weight and exercise will NOT have to deal with obesity or being overweight as a child.

Natty has been overweight since I met her at 4 and was overweight as a toddler, too. She will struggle with her weight all her life.

But, as I said to Natty, we all have things we are born with that we have to deal with. And this is hers. But if she gets control of it now (without getting an eating disorder) things will be much easier for her in adulthood.

Running songs of the day:
Where is My Mind by the Pixies
Fading like a Flower by Roxette
(being pregnant apparently makes me like 80's music)

26 comments:

olga said...

By MY standards, what you've written, she exercises more than enough for her age unless she is an athlete with competitions. And I am not buying completely the "gain weight while pregnant - kids pudgy) thing - I gained little with older and huge lots with younger. Both are skinny as sticks, no matter how much they eat (and they eat non-stop since turning 10, literally). Neither exercised (besides PE and skateboarding 30 min every other day or so). Genes, yes. What they eat, yes. I did hear about correlation of pregnancy weight vs child's though, so don't mind me.
Anyhow, good you had a talk. May be coming from you, and may be because you are pregnant now, will help Natalie.
About forgetting about ginger pills by you - we say "a shoe maker without shoes". To my excuse, I puked twice, in both pregnancies combined. What would I know? And ginger never helped me at the race with same problem, although everyone swears by it, and I dutifully carry it every ultra.

Ewa said...

It is refreshing to see there is a society that actually cares. As you know, here, in the States we talk a lot about the problem and are satisfied with that. In the meantime kids are getting sicker and sicker while we are heading off in our comfy cars to McDonald's screaming that nobody is going to tell us what to eat.
Natalie might have a weight problem for a number of reasons. Could be genetics. Could be the types of foods she eats, even if they seem healthy. For some people it is not a simple calories in and out formula. Carbs can do a real number on weight management.
I think you are doing great by talking to her and helping her with exercise. She needs to feel that she can have a great deal of control over her body.

Stefanie Schocke said...

How come I didn't know about ginger!? Or maybe I did and forgot...8 weeks left...a little late now.

I did find that running totally helps my nausea! (Still does. Any time I'm feeling dizzy, sick, tired, etc...start running and I feel good).

Onto the weight thing. I went through what I call a "chunky stage" right before puberty. I didn't really overeat, and I've been thin my whole life, besides that time. Maybe it's a puberty thing? You obviously model exercise and proper nutrition for her. It does sound like she is exercising a lot. And I'm sure that you don't feed her the "wrong food". You are being a great stepmom!!!

The Chapples said...

My mom only gained 20 pounds with both pregnancies and my sister was always a twig growing up and I was chubby. I don't think that has anything to do with it. We were from the same birth mom, the same eating habits were introduced to us (my mom was alway a really healthy cook), but I still just had a tendency to be chunky until after puberty. AND I ended up with an eating disorder because I was so self-conscious of being chunkier than my friends. Looking back, I wasn't even THAT chubby, just had the bad luck of having lots of very tiny friends and an underweight sister.

I guess my two cents, being an eating disorder therapist an all and someone who has been in Natali's shoes is to just continue to do fun and active things as a family but never, EVER give her the message that she is heavy or lazy. Sounds like she likes activity and you want to keep it that way. Pressuring her to exercise will backfire, I'm afraid. Continue to offer her a nice selection of healthy foods but also she needs to understand that there are times that having treats is ok too!

Gosh, I just feel for her. :( I am angry at her school.

s.a. said...

OK, so I know there is a childhood obesity issue in the U.S. But I think that it is absurd that the school is concerned so much with her weight that they would call a conference about it. SR has mentioned in the past that Natali does not look like a prototypical blonde Dane- this whole thing smacks of them singling her out because she looks 'different'.

I also don't understand why SR would call her and tell her about what the teachers said on the phone. That just seems like a very bad way to handle it.

My mother was a wee Asian lady, who gave birth to two daughters; one with sparrow bones like her and one who took after her father's huskier forebears (me). My size was always an issue, and I was a fit little girl. My immigrant parents NEVER allowed us to eat junk food, and I was forced to exercise every single day. Yet there is no way in hell I could ever be as small as my mom.

Lo and behold, I became anorexic.
I was 'cured' from anorexia, and became an exercise bulimic; which was just as deranged and lunatic, my thinking and obsessiveness was just as intense and disordered, but much more societally acceptable. It took me years and lots of $$$$ therapy to recover from that.

Leave Natali alone about the weight thing. Please.

s.a. said...

I just looked at the photo of Natali at Disney World.

That is not an overweight kid.
Her teachers are full of shit.

With all due respect, I do not think you and SR are clearheaded and rational about weight. Please continue to set a good example by eating well and living an active lifestyle- but don't continue to harp on this kid being 'fat'. She has so many emotional issues in her life to deal with already. She does not need this from the adults in her life.

Fast Bastard said...

Well, let me add my two cents, since I was the one who was at the meeting.

The meeting overwhelmed me, because I didn't expect it to be about her weight. They spent 5 minutes telling me that she is doing well in school and 30 minutes on her weight.

It was an unpleasant experience, sure, but I'm glad they did it. It would certanly have been easier for them to ignore it.

Natali (there is no e in her name) is a little lazy and doesn't enjoy physical activities as much as she should. We were told at her last check-up that she needed to move for at least an hour a day. I've been trying to get her to do that, but it's like pulling teeth.

Since the meeting, she has seemed motivated. She had her first "weight talk" with her teacher yesterday and seemed happy with it.

The one thing that I hated about the meeting was how they were so critical of us moving back and forth so much, especially her going back to school in Wisconsin next year. While not ideal, it's a reality we have to accept, and worse things have happened in a child's life.

Michelle said...

Thank you, s.a., for expressing my thoughts exactly!

I was overweight during my pre-teen years, and my father nagged and nagged me to lose weight. Guess what happened? I started eating more out of depression and GAINED weight. It wasn't until I became really interested in boys during my freshman year of high school that I decided to lose the weight FOR MYSELF. Not because ANYONE else told me to.

Telling a child that they are "lazy" or "heavy" is so damaging, emotionally. Chastising and criticizing is not an effective way to encourage someone!

And to me, Natali looks completely normal! But maybe not in the "perfect" world you all live in.

Why do I always get angry while reading this blog?

sea legs girl said...

Well, I think this is an interesting discussion.

But, Michelle, is your anger directed at her teachers or me? I'm a bit confused. I do not call her fat or lazy. We had to say something to her about the fact that we now need to document her weight every week and that she needs to go to a weekly weight conference with her teachers. It wasn't our idea. I simply wanted to get the thoughts of the readers on what her teachers said and it seems they are similar to mine (I have to let SR speak for himself). I have simply told her, as I said, that the Danes are being a bit crazy, but there is nothing wrong with leading a healthier life, then she can please them and benefit herself at the same time.

Michelle - I have to say I get angry when I read your comments (so right back at you) because you DON'T READ what I write, assume something, and then falsely accuse me.

Kirsten said...

I don't know if I can see the pictures of Natali well enough to judge if she is overweight or not. I do think that parents and teachers are the best to judge that - there is also the subject of Natali's own perception of her weight. I can just say that I'm a tall and quite fit woman and have a weight on the slim side of the BMI, I have a 12 year old daughter that started getting chubby when she was in kindergarten. She is not fat but she is definitely overweight and she has been teased when she was younger. She weights more than I do. She percieves herself as overweight and suffers greately, tries to eat less and exercise but probably has some gene-pooles from her father that don't contribute to the issue... She sees me running a lot, her brother exercises and we eat quite healthy (I'm a really good example for her, her father a really bad one..). I wish I could help her better with the weight but I'm so afraid of eating disorders (was there myself once upon a time) that I don't do much about her weight. Maybe that's wrong. Thank you for writing on this issue - helps me to know that I'm not the only one......

Angela said...

I am concerned how much attention the school is putting on Natali weight but it sounds like you are handling her with the appropriate compassion,education and support. Good for you!

Anonymous said...

Wow! 1st time leaving a comment.

Too much emphasis overtly I believe. All for exercise-walking, running, team sports,skating, more biking and even jumping on a trampoline. But for a school to zero in on this-she is not overweight going by the pics on the blog. I know you provide healthy eating examples. I think as a family you need to thread lightly.

SteveQ said...

I put in my $.02 on SR's post about this - but I think I'd have to have been there to really know what to say. I will say, however, that being a pudgy toddler has little to do with being pudgy as an adult; I was a fat baby (9 lb. 4.5 oz) and a heavy toddler and ended up being superskinny as a teenager.

SteveQ said...

Will you do a year-end post on Running Songs of the year? (I'm still trying to figure out whether a certain someone likes "I Flip My Hair" ironically or actually thinks that that's a good song).

Anonymous said...

Hello, How overweight is Natali? 5%? It's hard to tell from pictures. She does look pretty normal weight in the pictures.
I wrote to you before about my older daughter. She was always normal weight until right before 5th grade, when she suddenly became chunky. She was chunky for less than a year, then she suddenly shot up in height but didn't gain any weight. She is now a trim 18 year old.
Haver you considered taking her to a child psychologist? I only mention this because she has been through a lot, and some kids roll through waves of change easily and others do not.
From reading your blog, it sounds like she is separated from her mom and brother at this time. Even if you are providing her with a loving home, she may still be feeling loss and sadness, and food may be her medication.
As for nausea, I used something called "sea bands" that seemed to take the edge off but didn't eliminate my nausea. You buy them at marine supply stores. They are basically wrist bands that have a bump on them that works as accupressure on a spot on the inside of your wrist. No drugs involved, and it did seem to help.
Lynne in MD

SteveQ said...

Um, didn't even get the title right: I Whip My Hair Back and Forth. Doesn't help.

sea legs girl said...

Oh my, I think I just ate my weight in cashwes, dried fruit and eggs. What a strange dinner.

Kirsten, I'm really thankful to have the input of a Dane on this - and also glad you enjoy the discussion.

Thanks, Angela! I forgot to mention that I have told her many times that she looks awesome, no matter what they say. I could be a bit better cook, though.

Hey, anon! Thanks for commenting. One things Danes sure like is unifomity and that applies to weight and exercise, too. She does weigh more than her friends - but I have trouble personally knowing whether or not she is unhealthy. I do think she is a pretty (and not fat) girl.

Steve Q, you really know how to get my goat. Well, you know you are an n of, well, 1! And I am sure you know there is a correlation between childhood weight and adulthood obesity. I can't help thinking of a 2 year old I saw admitted to the hopsital who was in the obese category for a 5 year old. She was absolutely astounding to see. She also was already suffering from such bad acid reflux that she had damanged her larynx (that's the aspect I had seen her for as a med student). Should we have just said she'd grow out of it? :)

Is there seriously an adult out there who likes "I flip my hair"?? Don't tell me it's Glaven. Oh, wait, I just figured out who it is... "D"TR?

Lynn - good point about the pyschologist. Natali has a lot to deal with - and will now again next year be moving back to the US. I just think she might find it stigmatizing to see a phychologist. But it just would depend what we called it.

sea legs girl said...

I knew which song you meant, Steve :).

SteveQ said...

Not "D"TR. Please. It's bad enough that I have people saying I'm interested in women who look like 12 year-old boys, much less have the musical tastes of 12 year-old girls.

I may have to delete this comment. Nothing good can come from it.

Kate said...

wow. well, s.a. may not have said it in the most tactful or gentle way, but at base I agree with him/her.

I can tell you're trying to choose words carefully when you speak with Natali (and protect her from a potential eating disorder down the line), so that's great, but man oh man. That is some treacherous territory to navigate. How can you even choose words carefully enough? It's like how they say - even telling a girl she's beautiful all the time is only reinforcing the message that beauty is something you find important and value. (Sorry - my pet issue. I am always getting on my husband about that one, b/c he unconsciously calls our 2 young daughters "beautiful" all day long.)

Also feel compelled to add for the sake of any other preggo readers out there: while I believe there is research backing up what you've said re: mother's weight gain/child's birth weight/later weight problems in life, it's certainly not a 1:1 thing that's perfectly clear cut. I exercised throughout pregnancy (though not at your level), and I feel like my body just put on the weight it was going to: 40-45 lbs. (I'll wait for you to pick yourself up off the floor now.) Both were healthy pregnancies, both were healthy babies, I shed the weight rapidly post-birth, and neither of my children is chunky.

As an aside, I really think some of the advocates for endurance running during pregnancy (such as yourself) could pick up a few more believers along the way if the weight discussion was dropped from the topic. Because when people see/read about a pregnant woman rather obsessively tracking her weight, it makes it harder for them to buy into the idea that the exercise is a good thing for the baby (as you suggest) and not something the mother is doing largely out of fear of weight gain.
(Please don't misunderstand - I'm not saying that's what you're doing, I am only pointing out that it may come across that way to some people and that the "running in pregnancy is great" part of the message would be more well received if it were entirely divorced from the weight gain stuff.)

sea legs girl said...

Thanks, Kate. That was a great comment.

Yeah, as I briefly said in the post, there are many reasons a kid may or may not be overweight.

My point is definitely not to scare women. And I think you are right that it seems many women who are thin in advance can "get away" with gaining quite a bit. Especially if they continue to exercise.

But my advice to women who want to avoid having overweight kids would involve two things

1. If you are overweight to begin with, the weight you gain during pregnancy needs to be limited (depending on how overweight you are)

2. Exercising regularly while pregnant is associated with leaner kids at age 5.

But, that being said, many women will not follow either of these and end up with thin kids - like you said, it is not 1:1. BUT a woman who doesn't gain over recommended and exercises regularly, as far as I understand, will NOT end up with an overweight little kid (unless there is a serious genetic condition in the child, ex. Prader Willi, etc.)

Anonymous said...

First off, Natali is so beautiful! What a tough topic to tackle especially when added to all the other challenges that come with parenting.

I was curious, what would a typical "crazy Dane" youth eat during a day and what would they consider appropriate exercise?

sea legs girl said...

Hi Anon - thanks for the comment. First of all there are a lot of things Danish kids don't eat because they're not allowed: anything with sugar added, cookies, cakes, candy, etc. You simply are not allowed to put it in their lunch boxes. Besides that there is a lot of liver paté, sausages, egg salad, mackerel salad - the salads served on dark rye bread. And then there is always fruit. It's what The Lorax and Natty eat, too. They (well mostly Natty), of course, want to fit in and I do my best...

Harmony said...

Hi Sea legs girl, fellow Wisconsinite here...

One topic that I have wondered about for quite some time (and haven't done any research on) is the feeding habits of babies during their first year or two of life and its effect on weight later in life.

I feel that I see some mothers overfeeding their young babies here in the US, possibly as a way to keep their child quiet and content, rather than considering their health. Have you done any research on this?

sea legs girl said...

Harmony - hello to you in Wisconsin! :). That is a really good question. Really the only thing I have read and heard about when it comes to the diet of young kids is - if they become overweight, they modify their epigenetics in such a way that it becomes much harder as an adult to become thin again. As for the specifics of what kids eat, I do not really feel qualified to answer that as I haven't done a lot of research into that area. Sorry!

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I think she'd be considered pudgy though not unhealthy by US standards. I saw the disney pictures. I have cousins, sadly, her age, adn I know the "x is fat" when the first is basically just developing early, or a little bigger than normal. unfortunately those issues don't go away in the US, even though natalie sticks out less here.

it's nice that you are worried about her having a complex, because that just can contribute to a flip flop of over and under eating forever.

try to get her involved in a sport she really LOVES. maybe that's not swimming. Try something. try soccer. then the exercise and practice won't feel like work, it'll just be fun.

You guys already eat healthy. I'd tell her that her teachers are just being pricks and that she's on the right track. honestly, i wouldn't put it past them to be singling her out because she is an american.