Fat and Not Afraid

Respect and love are for EVERY body.

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Boys need more calories than girls

September 10, 2010

My son started JK on Wednesday, full day, and part of the info he came home with at the end of the first day was a pamphlet on making small healthy lunches (he gets two short nutrition breaks).  I read through it and along with the usual not-too-extreme stuff about whole grains and a rainbow of fruits and veggies there was the suggestion that he have a low-fat diet and that boys need more calories in a day than girls do.  Bwa?  Seriously?  There's so much to take apart in just those two suggestions I'm not sure where to start. 

Ok first of all, low fat diets for kids are a bad idea.  Kids NEED the fats in cheese and milk and butter and avacados and olives and peanutbutter etc for their brains to be built right, to grow and continue developing.  When Gabe was done breastfeeding and done with formula we put him on full-fat/whole milk.  He eats a LOT of cheese and peanutbutter and loves buns with butter.  My kid? Not fat.  Very tall but not fat.  I know there are 'good fats' and 'bad fats' and I'm sure the school and local health unit that works with the school is actually worried about the bad fats but a lot of parents will just read 'low fat' and start getting the things that are labelled that way for their kids, robbing them of an important source of energy and cell-building material.

The second point, about boys needing more calories than girls, while apparently true approaching puberty and during the teenage years (depending on activity levels), is rooted in the belief that boys are busier than girls.  It doesn't take into account individuals and basically it's sexist.  At JK ages counting calories doesn't make any sense (hell, it doesn't make a lot of sense at any age for most people).  It's much more important that kids enjoy the food they eat, that they're not being pressured into eating a certain way or developing body image issues.  I'm not going to start figuring out how many calories are in each slice of Gabe's pb&j sandwich, and each teaspoon of spread, an apple, etc and then start worrying he's not eating enough or too much, and how many of those calories are from which food group.  It's stressful enough here right now and I feel bad for parents who take this advice to heart and try to track how much their kids each by calorie or gram of fat. Family Feeding Dynamics has been a wonderful, positive influence on how I treat Gabe's meal-times and I'm linking with love so other parents can find them and hopefully rethink things as well.

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