TIP of the WEEK: It’s Not Just About the Calories
November 18, 2016
Many of you have asked that I talk in greater detail about getting through the holidays, specifically about how to explain to family members (grandparents in particular) about their child’s diet. How many of you have heard the following- “It’s only one cookie“, “It’s a special day“, “He’s thin“, “You don’t need to worry about his diet anymore“, “You’re being too strict“, “Just this once.”
Grandparents want to spoil their grandchildren and in many cases, that includes with food. Not giving their grandchild special treats goes against their nature, especially when that child is saying that they’re hungry. Will one extra piece of cake ruin their diet and make them gain 5 pounds? Probably not but it’s not just about the calories. We have an obligation to create an environment for our kids where they can thrive and that includes managing their expectations regarding food. When our kids know what they are going to eat, how much, and when, they can relax, they can focus on the rest of their lives. When extra, unexpected food is introduced, they feel anxious, stressed and out of control. Giving a child or adult with PWS more than what they were told that they would get creates anxiety and anxiety leads to unwanted behaviors.
You are no longer grandma or grandpa, you are a food source because you created an expectation. You want your grandchild to want to see you for your love and comfort, not because you might slip them some treats that they shouldn’t have. Spoil them every time you see them, with presents and hugs and your company, not with food. If for no other reason than the more secure their minds are about what they are going to eat, the better behaved they will be. “Just this once” hurts them. It makes them feel unsafe and anxious and that is the last thing that you want your grandchild to feel about you. And if you think that this isn’t fair, you’re right. It’s not fair that they can’t have what the other kids have and that we have to be so careful about what we give them, but it is our reality and sticking to it will make your grandchild and your whole family better for it.
Patrice Carroll is Latham Centers’ world-renowned Prader-Willi Syndrome specialist. She works with Latham Centers’ residents with PWS, their families and consultants, continuously learning and teaching about PWS best practices.