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Diet Books for Children?!? What’s Next??

September 6, 2011
Before I get to this “children’s book” I came across, I want to tell you about all the cooking that happened yesterday! After my workout at the gym I came home for a peach banana smoothie! Gotta use up those farmers market peaches!

Then, I needed to make my lunches and dinners for the week! For lunch I made a Wheatberry Navy Salad!

Wheatberry Navy Salad
1 cup wheatberries
3/4 cup dry navy beans
1/2 chopped onion
1 cup chopped green beans
1 chopped bell pepper

I cooked the wheatberries and the navy beans first – both took forever! Most people suggest soaking both overnight, but I wanted to finish it today! So I used the faster methods. For the wheatberries, I boiled the berries just as you would for rice, until the water had evaporated. Apparently if you soak them overnight first, they have a different texture?

For the navy beans, I boiled them for 2 min, then took them off the heat and let them sit for 2 hours. Then, I boiled them again and then brought the heat down to a simmer for a little over an hour. The instructions I found said 1 – 1.5 hours.

Once that was all done, I steamed the green beans (also from the farmers market!) and then added all the chopped veggies together. I stirred in the wheatberries and the navy beans, and voila! Perfect lunch!

For a dressing, I’m going to mix a bit of olive oil, basalmic vinegar and lemon juice. But I’ll add that before packing up my lunch each day. 
For dinner last night and for Tuesday and Thursday nights (when I’m actually back in time for dinner!), I decided to make a recipe that I saw on Peanut Butter Fingers by Julie: Semi Homemade Marinara Meat Sauce
I started off by browning some ground turkey, and then I added in 1 chopped squash (farmers market!) and 1/2 chopped onion. 
Then I poured one can of diced tomatoes on top. Julie used marinara sauce, but I wanted to see how this worked out! I also added some oregano and garlic powder. Delicious!
Just as Julie did, I served my sauce over spaghetti squash (ALSO farmers market!!!). It was delicious! 

About a week ago, I was in my gym and on the news I saw a preview for a later segment about a diet book for young girls. It definitely peaked my interest and I was lucky enough to come across an article about the book on the Today Show’s website.

The book is called “Maggie Goes on a Diet.” Honestly, my first reaction was to be appalled! Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% for beating childhood obesity and teaching children healthy life habits, but young girls already get enough negative messages in society today – do they really need a book to tell them about it too?
“Maggie Goes on a Diet” is a rhyming picture book about an obese and unhappy 14 year old girl named Maggie, and has yet to be published. The book shows how she starts out bullied and obese and how through exercise and hard work, she becomes a confident and popular soccer star, and of course “average sized.” Some of the images in the book include a picture of herself holding up a dress and seeing herself in the mirror as a much smaller person. Another shows her standing in the fridge and binging on foods.
You might be thinking – well 14 seems old enough to understand that being obese is unhealthy. However, the author claims the book is recommended for girls ages 4 to 8… FOUR TO EIGHT?!?! The author, who struggled with weight as a child, claims that the main message is that Maggie went on a diet so she could become a better soccer player, not for looks. Right…
I realize the author may be trying to teach the benefits of healthy eating and exercise to children at a young age, however, this book is not the way to go about it. Although childhood obesity is a huge issue in our country, I think this book sends the wrong message to young girls about body image. They should focus on exercise and healthy eating as a great attribute to any person’s life – not just for the purpose of losing weight.
The book shows that once Maggie loses the weight, her life changes: she gains friends, the attention of guys, gets higher grades and is invited to her first sleepover. The book is teaching children that by being slim you are going to be happier. This is the wrong message – being skinny doesn’t make you happier or make your life magically change! Children need to understand that eating healthy and exercising is a part of a healthy life and is not merely for losing weight and becoming “popular.”
What are your thoughts on this book? Do you think it’s helpful or hurtful? 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 6, 2011 2:05 pm

    As much as we'd all like to think that books can make a huge difference in the life of a child, (And this is coming from a girl who did, and partially still does, want to grow up to be a vampire slayer)books rarely change someone's "lifestyle." I did speak with a woman once who only used one type of handbag after reading a certain book, or someone who wanted to teach or become a poet, but when it comes to a lifestyle, especially at that age, it comes down to the parents. This book can exist just the same way that that the one about the colors of lipstick and the young girls with the blowjobs – I cannot remember the name, but I read it. See, there ya go, it was controversial, but not memorable. It's about what parents instill in their kids that changes their idea of "healthy." It's just like the children you see on Tyra: their parents don't know when to say "no." My parents never told my brother and I that we couldn't have McDonalds, because we did, but she also encouraged us to stay active: swimming, golf, tennis, gymnastics, baseball, softball, soccer. You name, Jay and I tried it! But it comes around to finding your balance and what fits your lifesyle. I couldn't eat healthy every day of the week with my schedule of grad school and two jobs, it just doesn't work. And I never have a set schedule outside of those three entities, while my dad makes time every day after work for a two hour walk, it's just how we all differ. I think we need to be educating the parents of America on healthier and more active choices. Nothing extreme, but I know this is one of Michelle Obama's big areas and she's done lots of talks on it. There is healthy eating, and then there is "healthy eating" – there should be in there a middle ground that we should strive for parents to try and meet for their kids.

  2. September 6, 2011 4:38 pm

    Hurtful :/ I hate the idea of this. Healthy diets should come as a reflection of the parents diets, NOT from "dieting books". Hate hate hate seeing things like this!

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