By Theresa Albert, Toronto Nutritionist
It breaks my heart to see a child struggling with normal kid activities because they are overweight. As a nutritionist, I know the path that child is involuntarily on, and I also know what a terrible set-up that truly is.
Still, I have stood in line behind that overweight family and watched the responsible adults order their children exactly what they should be avoiding. These pre-pubescent children are the size and shape of 40 year-olds and the 40 year-olds taking care of them can’t see it. But do I intervene? Nope. Do I step up and say, “They have salads here you know, perhaps that’s a better option”. No. Instead, I stand there feeling nauseated and worried for the child. I look away. After all, it’s none of my business, right?
I heard a story recently that stopped me in my tracks. One overweight 9 year-old was told by another, fitter boy, “If you don’t stop eating those fries and pop, you’ll get fatter”. It may have been the “er” that did him in. I know it was painful to hear. I also believe that the comment was not intended to hurt, it was intended to help. But the damage was done. The overweight boy was hurt, and the other boy was baffled. Both mothers were mortified, each for their own reason. Everyone left the situation stunned.
But the truth was told – and it shouldn’t have been shocking. In some ways, it may have provided a defining moment for the boy eating those french fries that could positively change the course of his life.
The content of the comment should have been something he had heard before and not news. The person delivering the information should have been someone whom the boy loved and trusted and delivered in a gentler fashion, but it wasn’t. Some poor, honest, straight-shooting kid had to do it. The brave deliverer of the bad news learned the worst lesson, I am afraid. Don’t tell the truth. Look away and pretend you don’t notice because that’s what we do in our culture when we are afraid to hurt someone’s feelings. Even though doing so gently could save them a whole lot of pain in the long run.
I am not sure that I will react any differently the next time I stand witness to the fast food abuse. I don’t know that there is any reasonable way to react in this one-on-one and personal situation. After all, if I take the most hopeful interpretation of the moment, this really could be the only time all year that the child in question gets his burger, fries and a shake. I doubt it, but I have to tell myself that in order to be able to swallow my own lunch.
Plus, I’m just not sure what else to do. I am open to any ideas.
About the Author:
Theresa Albert is a nutritionist and food communications consultant. Her Food Network show,Just One Bite! aired for 5 years on both Food Network and BBC Kids. She is currently a trusted on-camera correspondent for CTV Newschannel as well as CBC and regular health expert on the daily lifestyle show, Steven and Chris which airs internationally.
Named one of Canada’s Top 25 Tweeters by Today’s Parent Magazine and one of Savvymom.ca’s 35 Favorite Bloggers, she is called for comment from every major magazine, newspaper and television outlet in Canada. She has a weekly column in the Metro Newspaper and regularly writes features for Today’s Parent, Canadian Family Magazine and blogs at Huffington Post.