I am obese for my size. Will my eating habits reflect on my children?

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I would like to first thank you for developing the Healthy Body Calculator®’. I think it’s a great way of giving a clear picture of what my health levels are.

I know that I am extremely obese for my size, but what worries me even more that my eating habits are going to reflect on my children. I originally came from Europe where cooking high-fat foods are the standards. Even though my children are perfectly proportioned; they already have slightly increased cholesterol levels. When I lived in Europe walking is a way of transportation for your daily activities. Therefore, even though I never had to exercise per say, I was always fit. After we got married and I had my children I decided to go back to college and continue my education. It took up so much of my time that between raising my children and school I had no personal time to maintain my fitness.

I also had a back injury in 1985 that is still part of my life. In addition to that, I was born with a hip disability that they operated on when I was only 4 and limited my hip movement ability. I have been trying numerous diets and exercise programs, but I had always failed. It is totally frustrating to know that I accomplished so much in my life, but that something that should be so simple and natural as healthy eating and living, I can not even begin to master. I am totally confused as to what to do. I would like to change the lifestyle of my family, but I just don’t know how. I don’t know what to cook and how to cook to make everyone still eat, but eat healthily. I also have a great time restraint on my hands when the meals got to be quick (most of the time that is when pizza and McDonald’s come in).

Please let me know if you can help me find a way to learn how to change our lifestyle. I am totally desperate. I love my children and my husband so very much and I am afraid that these unhealthy habits will cause them harm. Thank you for your time to read this letter.

You’re welcome. If you chose to lose 1 or 2 pounds per week, use the Healthy Body Calculator® Your Nutrition Facts calories and fat grams to guide you in making healthy food choices.

Healthy eating takes time management and effort to change your food habits and exercise regularly. Your children will follow your healthy role modeling even if you only make dinner and buy the food.

You’re probably doing better than you think. Healthy cooking starts with changing the types of fats/oils you buy reducing thereby he fat and sugar in recipes. Use your regular recipes, but start out by cutting the fat in half. If a recipe calls for cream, use evaporated skim milk. If a recipe calls for a whole egg, use 2 egg whites. You may want to check out some reduced fat cookbooks at your local library or bookstore to get some ideas on how to reduce the fat from your regular recipes.

Pizza doesn’t have to be high fat if you make your own starting with a prepared crust that is not cheese filled. Use Canadian bacon or ham instead of pepperoni or sausage. Use low-fat mozzarella cheese on top. Also, olives contain mostly fat and though it is the good kind of fat, it still contributes extra calories. A vegetarian pizza with Canadian bacon or ham and no extra cheese is a lower fat alternative to order for delivery.

Fast food doesn’t have to be a high-fat alternative. Select burgers with lettuce and tomato, but without added bacon or special sauces. If you drink 3 cups of milk a day, you don’t need cheese on top of your burger as 1 ounce of American cheese has less calcium (155 milligrams) than 1 cup of low-fat milk (290 milligrams), but with an extra 6 grams of fat. Choose broiled chicken rather than breaded and fried. Add a fresh salad (don’t add croutons, bacon bits, and cheese toppings) and low-fat milk instead of French fries and a soda.

Next, serve yourself smaller portions. Have you read my eating habits FAQs? If you need assistance with reducing the fat in your recipes and menus, contact a dietitian.