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Ask Rene: Her Diet Is Distasteful!

Hi Rene:

Longtime reader, first time writer.  I actually enjoy your pieces because most of the time you say exactly what I am thinking. I’m sad to say though the situation I currently find myself in has me stumped.

My daughter went off to college three years ago. After gaining the freshman 15, Lisa decided to get serious about her health, in my mind, a bit too serious. Now, what started as a healthy respect for food and exercise has become an obsession.

Now here’s the problem. Lisa refuses to eat normal food but that’s not even the worst part. Where she crosses the line is when she tells us how we’re all killing ourselves because we don’t eat and exercise as she does. In fact, she called a week ago and dictated to me what she required me to put on the Thanksgiving menu.

Lisa looks fantastic, don’t get me wrong; that is until she opens her mouth. I love my daughter very much and am happy she’s decided to do this for herself. But how can I make her see what’s right for her isn’t necessarily right for us and that she’s alienating the rest of us?


A Weighty Issue


Dear Weighty Mom:

Sorry, WHAT? She DICTATED? Wow, Thanksgiving must have been a rip-roarin’ good time at your house.  It’s good your daughter is taking her health seriously; we’ve seen too many cases of obesity in children so this is refreshing. Unfortunately, we know kids can also be a bit myopic (hey, we were all young once, we remember). But where to go from here? Here’s what I would suggest.

LISA NEEDS TO MAKE HER OWN ARRANGEMENTS: This is just common sense, though I’m often stunned by how uncommon that is. But most people who are super serious about their health and food plan ahead so that their dietary needs are met. That’s a nice way of saying Lisa needs to bring her own food, sit and enjoy it and not make faces or pass judgment on what everyone else is scarfing down. Like a lot of people, my level of fitness waxes and wanes and when it’s flagging, I don’t want to sit next to a junior Jack LaLanne eyeballing the portion sizes on my plate.

LISA NEEDS SOME R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Along with her Tofurkey, Lisa needs a side dish of home training and you’re just the person to serve that up.  This situation is about more than food, it’s about boundaries. I think it’s difficult for children to come back home and for parents not to treat them like they can be sent to their rooms for minor infractions. It’s also hard for our parents to see us as adults, which I explain to my own mother when she tries to have a conversation with me through the bathroom door, if you get my drift.  There are now boundaries now where there weren’t before. Lisa may have grown up in your house, but she’s not there now, doesn’t pay the bills, and outside of a polite request, really doesn’t have much to say with regard to what the Thanksgiving (or any other) menu should look like.  And definitely no dictating!

TELL HER YOU HOW PROUD YOU ARE OF HER: Two things to remember here; Lisa’s excitable and she loves you. I do think her concern about what you’re eating comes from a good place in her heart but she needs to deliver that information in a different way. One of the things we as adults understand (most of us anyway) is the art of subtlety. You’ve already taken note of how great Lisa looks. That means you’re watching. Tell Lisa how proud you are of her and when you’re ready to take it to the next step, you’ll ask her. But until then, you are going to live your life, which is working fine for you.

Good luck mommy!

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Combing the aisles at Target in search of the best deal on Cheerios, it hit Rene Syler like the stench of a dirty diaper on a hot summer’s day. Not only is perfection overrated its utterly impossible! Suddenly empowered, she figuratively donned her cape, scooped up another taco kit for dinner and Good Enough Mother was born.

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