Monday, February 9, 2009

Stepping Out of Line

I am a creature of habit. Every morning after dropping the kids off at school, I head straight to the nearest Dunkin Donuts (D&D) to get a large hot tea, with milk and extra sugar. For the last two weeks I’ve noticed a father and his overweight young daughter in line with me at D&D and every morning, this father orders his daughter two strawberry frosted donuts and a bottle of juice.

Now, I applaud this man’s attempt to get something in his daughter’s belly before she heads off to school, but his breakfast of choice for this little girl is driving me bananas. This kid is about 4”7” and no less than 175bs. I know it’s none of my business,and I can stand to lose some weight myself, but damn, this kid’s no more than 7 yrs. old, morbidly obese and a prime candidate for diabetes and high blood pressure. She’s cute as a button, with her neatly braided hair and Catholic school uniform, and every morning she and her dad are chatting away about all sorts of stuff.

But, to be honest, I’m about to bite a hole in my lip in my effort not to step out of line and boldly suggest D&D’s egg white flat bread sandwich in lieu of enabling this little girl’s obvious sugar habit.


Lisa Blah Blah said...

Believe me, I totally feel you on this. BUT - you know if you say something (no matter how gently you say it), you risk getting cussed out!!

You touched a nerve in me on this, though...One of my daughter's school friends is obese - they are 5 and she easily outweighs my kid by 25 pounds. Her mom can't imagine what is wrong. (All 3 of her kids are heavy but this one is really overweight. Her pediatrician is really on her case.)

Once we met at the park for the kids to play one Saturday morning. It was 10:00 and the park was right across the street from their apartment. We'd been there half an hour and her kids started clamoring for snacks - which she had brought with her, even though we were right across the street from her home! She passed out candy and some cookies and asked if Viva would like some. I said, "We just ate breakfast an hour ago!" (And aside from that, I'm not feeding my kid candy at 10:30 in the morning.) I don't carry snacks for Viva. She won't starve to death before we get home and she can eat something healthy. And if we are going to be out for a while, I'll bring some grapes and some crackers or something - not junk.

Part of it is genetics, but two donuts plus some juice every morning is certainly helping that kid along the road to a lifetime of health problems and unfortunately, esteem issues. Kids can be really mean.

Mango Mama said...

MBB, You are absolutely right.. I can't say a thing to these folks, but it both pisses me off and breaks my heart when I see this sweet little girl. I try to focus on the bigger picture... the obviously warm and "present" time she has with her dad daily, because for lots of us, we're rushing so in the morning, we don't have this sort of quality time with our kids. But the writing's on the wall for this kid and it ain't pretty unless they address her weight and dietary issues.

I'm with you about the snack and food management issue. Fresh fruit or veggies are more than suitable for snacks, but this raises the issues of environmental racism, because in many urban areas, folks don't have access to fresh, inexpensive food. Junk food is usually the cheapest and shoveling/marketing this crap to children is at the root of the problem. I read somewhere that a woman in Philly said it's easier for her to buy a gun in her neighborhood, than it is for her to find fresh vegetables for her family--- SAD!

Lori said...

This incident is similar to something I experienced, years ago, while standing in line at a McDonalds. I was waiting behind a man and very young girl perhaps 5 years old or so. She was an overweight child barely clearing the height of the counter. While ordering, the gentleman asked the little girl what she would like to eat. Instead of requesting the usual "Happy Meal" for a child of her age, she rattled off her preference of whatever burger, fries and softdrink. The man proceeded to order and just as he was finishing she tugged at his sleeve and said "Don't forget to supersize it, Daddy." It was kind of funny to hear the kid utter those words until the father actually did supersize the meal for her. I was horrified, but just as Lisa Blah Blah commented – you know if you say something…

Even though I enjoy the occasional order of fries every now and then, I think I do a pretty good job of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When I see adults and children feasting on fast food I sometimes think to myself "Do they not know how easy it would be to buy fresh fruit and veggies to prepare at home?". Unfortunately the reality is no for a lot of people. Not only do our poorer neighborhoods not have the availability of fresh foods, the cost is sometimes prohibitive. And let's face it, there are generations of families who have grown up on Chef Boyardee, Ramen Noodles, etc. People just don't know how to eat healthy. I grew up in a family where my mom cooked real food everyday. I've been in supermarket check out lines when the cashier couldn't ring up my vegetables because she didn't know what a parsnip was or what cilantro looked like.

The health problems in our communities are intertwined with the breakdown of family units, economic strife, and lack of education. It's so overwhelming. How do we begin to sort this out?

Anonymous said...

I regularly take my personal training clients to the supermarket for a nutrition session. I teach them how to make better food choices, how to read and decipher food labels and how to plan meals. Quite often while I'm doing this session I will see a very overweight mother with her very overweight children in tow. When you look in the cart you see nothing but high calorie, high sugar, loaded with fat, nutrient lacking selections, barely any fruits and vegetables to be found. What's sad is that you know that the children are now heading down the same path of obesity, diabetes and hypertension that has now reached epidemic levels in the African American community. Mango Mama when we were in school the obese kid was the exception. Now it's probably almost have of the class.