Toddlers on a Diet

Cynthia Dermody


Photo by calaloni

Many CafeMoms are so frustrated trying to get their fussy toddler to eat something -- anything -- that they can't even imagine what it's like to actually restrict their child's food.

But that's exactly what calaloni has to do with her 2 year old son, Logan, and she's really bummed about it. At 43 pounds, Logan is overweight for his age, and his doctor recently put the toddler on a diet to try to bring his BMI (body mass index) back in check.

Logan's doctors are still trying to get to the bottom of his weight gain. Part of it is likely heredity (both his mom and dad have struggled with weight or food issues all their lives), but there may be a medical explanation, as well. About 20 percent of all toddlers are considered overweight today, compared with just 5 percent in 1970.

Meantime, calaloni is sharing her story to help other mothers -- and to get any advice from you all on how to make this huge lifestyle change easier for her son and family.

Was Logan always overweight?

No. He was born three months early weighing only 2 pounds! It took him forever to gain weight. For the first few weeks he wasn't getting any milk, but once he got on milk he still would not gain. The hospital had to add calories to his milk. When he was 3 months old (considered full term), he weighed 5 pounds.

Once he came home from the hospital, he started gaining weight at a normal rate. The doctors were shocked that he would drink 3 to 4 ounces at a time when he was so little.

What were his eating habits like -- before the diet?

Logan would get snacks. He loved Goldfish crackers and still begs for them! He also got treats, like a piece of cake at a party, and he loves spaghetti and his juice.

What does he eat now on his diet?

Absolutely no juice, no ice cream, no cookies, no sweets. Nothing between meals except for fruits and veggies. He drinks skim milk but only 16 oz. a day.

He does still get some things he loves. He has always loved corn and beans and carrots, so I always make sure I am stocked up on all of those. We have cut back on his servings, so instead of a whole sandwich, he gets a half. He'll get less spaghetti noodles and a bit more sauce. He's not much of meat eater, so I don't push a lot of meat.

It must be hard to have to say no to snacks -- he doesn't get any, not even once in a while?

We cannot give him ANY treats until he drops a few pounds; then we can introduce them slowly. He is still too young to understand his diet and his restrictions, but he is going to be on this diet for a long time. When the time is right and when he asks why he can't have something, then I will have to explain it to him.

How does a 2 year old end up at a cardiologist? Was your pediatrician worried about the weight affecting his heart?

Logan's pediatrician referred us to a cardiologist. He was born with holes in his heart, so we were already seeing one, but the pediatrician wanted to make sure that the weight is not affecting that condition. Also, the cardiologist works with a nutritionist that is helping us.

Could lack of exercise be part of the problem?

My son gets daily exercise, he is the average rambunctious 2 year old. He runs all over the place and rarely sits down. Now that it is winter, there is a little less activity, but we try to take him places he can run and play, including a play group. He also goes to physical therapy and gets a really good work out, but we've had the winter off from that.

Tell me about your and your husband's weight history and how that might be a pattern.

My husband has struggled with his weight all his life. He weighed 50 pounds at age 3! He was a heavy child and his mom did take him special doctors, but they could not find a reason for his weight gain.

I, on the other hand, was a very petite child, but growing up I had a major food disorder, almost like what Logan is going through right now -- and what he is going to have to deal with his whole life. I really don't want him to have to endure what I did and am dealing with today! The last ten years, I have totally ballooned. I am trying to work on it, but it's extremely hard.

Has feeding your son healthier helped you and your husband as well?

All of us are trying to eat better. But if we do want something that Logan can't have, we wait till he is in bed or we are at work. That has become my place to eat my junk! It makes life a whole lot easier if he just sees what he can have, and then the only hard part is getting his portions under control. He always wants more!

Is it hard to plan healthy meals?

A little. Now I have to make sure we have everything and grocery shopping has become a lot harder -- checking and comparing calories and serving sizes. You'll see only 60 calories on the label, but at closer look you'll find that is for just one cookie. Also, healthy food is more expensive than junk food, so money plays a big part of it too.

What is your advice to other moms who may also have an overweight toddler?

Know what is best for your child. If that means making him eat and drink what the doctor wants him too, then do it! You have all the control in your hands. But also make sure you are checking everything. There are many tests out there to make sure there is nothing wrong with your child.

But I am honestly just getting used to this and am in need of advice myself!

++Is your toddler dealing with a weight issue? How are you handling it?

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