I overheard my 13-year-old son on the phone last week.
“If you eat nothing but fruits and vegetables for 20 days, you’ll lose 20 pounds,” someone told him.
I yanked that phone right out of his hands, and a long discussion followed about what is healthy and what is not.
Fad diets are not healthy.
Cutting out food groups is not healthy.
Losing 20 pounds in 20 days (a fifth of his body weight) is not healthy.
It made me sad that we even had to have the conversation. As someone who has struggled with weight my entire life, I didn’t want my son to be stained with the stigma of food, and fad or yo-yo diets. He’s not heavy; he’s at that awkward 13-year-old stage when his body is transforming. I don’t want him to be uncomfortable with himself.
We could be better at home about incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our meals. A meatless meal can be a great thing, but his growing body needs good protein as well. We could eat fruit for dessert instead of ice cream.
The next morning, I let him help me pack his lunch. I explained to him that lean turkey was brain food and would help him stay full in the afternoon. I talked about how whole-grain bread is a complex carbohydrate, which fuels his body and gives him energy during the day. We talked about how mustard added a lot of flavor without fat. He added fresh baby spinach and tomato slices to his sandwich. We then packed two kiwis and a small, 1-ounce bag of Takis chips because it’s okay to have a treat now and again.
When he comes home again, we’ll have a dialogue about meal planning and healthy choices.
No fad diets in this house.