Wednesday, July 21, 2010

On 14-year-old boys and calories

Guys, I've just spent a week with my nephew!

It was soooo fantastic. He is such a delight!

I couldn't log on and fill you all in because a) I was so tired at the end of each day it was all I could do to keep my eyes open and b) kids today apparently are born with broadband in their bones; I could barely pry my nephew off the computer long enough to check my e-mail (especially after he realized we don't have cable).

Here's what I've learned: 14-year-old boys want to eat, a lot, and often.

I faced the age-old question I guess all parents/guardians do -- how do you encourage a child to eat well, and yet not transfer your food issues/problems onto him or her?

I found the answer during our rapid, one-day edumacational trip to Philadelphia (the child is shockingly unaware of basic American history, and with Philly just an hour Amtrak ride away ... well, we took advantage and zipped down for the day. Plus I simply HAD to run up the Rocky steps at the Philly art museum).

Anyway, we ran out of the house without eating breakfast, but snacked on grapes and apples I had brought with me. Then we had a small bagel each with cream cheese when we got to Philly, and split a yogurt with granola and raspberries on top.

We didn't eat for the rest of the day until about 4pm, when we stopped at Reading Market for a late lunch. If you haven't been there, it's heaven and hell in one. A huge, massive food court with Amish bakeries and butchers and jam/butter/homemade peanut butter sellers, plus all sorts of hedonistic food vendors pushing gyros, cheese steaks, etc etc etc etc....

Of course we were ravenous when we got there, and I thought for sure I'd made a huge tactical error. I suggested he start with just one item -- one thing he really wanted to eat, be it a cheese steak, a burger, or whatever. He chose a piece of pizza.

So we both had one. But just one. Then I let him walk around the huge market again for round two, because he said he was still hungry. To my surprise and shock, he eventually wandered into the salad bar stall!!

Was this because I hadn't pressured him, I wondered? He chose lots of veggies, greens, some fruit and a bit of mashed potato. Wow! I was so pleased with him.

Then he wanted dessert. This took a bit more finagling. In the end, we split one piece of cheesecake and two decadent cookies. It was one sweet too many, really, but he definitely didn't want anymore after that. We trained it home full, happy and totally tired from our day.

It was so awesome!

During his 10 day visit I did eat a lot of things I wouldn't normally eat. But I tried to not OVEREAT, if you know what I mean, and I think generally I did ok.

We also logged in two separate bike rides of 25 miles each. My butt was killing me after each ride, but it was worth it! He loves to ride in the city, and except for the heart palpitations I get watching him navigate the heavily trafficked avenues, I love it too. Generally we stick to the safe bike lanes along the no-car west side bike lane, or Central Park, but when you are doing the mileage we did, sometimes you just have to venture into the main streets. He did pretty well and listened to me without throwing me any 14-year-old 'tude, which was nice.

He has trimmed down a lot since I last saw him, and I am so happy for him. Could my positive attitude about my weight loss have something to do with it? Maybe...or not. But he accepted the gentle guidelines I put on him about eating without his usual defiance (or any of my mulish rebelliousness when my mom tried to do that to me -- although she was not so gentle). I think he really doesn't have any big food issues, and I truly hope he stays that way forever.

So, I'm back and trying to resume normal life. Will be checking in with y'all soon.


  1. Sounds like a wonderful time was had by all. Is this the same nephew that was supposed to come last year, but then wasn't allowed? If so, yay that he finally got to visit.

    You ran up the Rocky steps? Colour me green with envy!

    That is great about the bike rides. I only ride stationary or recumbent. I break out into a cold sweat even thinking about riding a bicycle outside in the real world.

    Glad to see you posting!!!

  2. Teenage boys eat a stupifying amount. When I think what I ate as a teenager (when I was engaged in competitive non-eating with girls at school) it's such a contrast. My brothers ate and ate (one of them never went anywhere without a king size Mars bar) and when I was at uni, I lived in a house in my 2nd year with another girl and 3 boys. To stop ourselves being poisoned, she and I did all the cooking (they cleared up) and I used to have to serve gargantuan portions - and they often still went to the chippy afterwards!


  3. What an awesome sounding time Ish!

    Regarding the eating, my incredibly healthy looking 17 year old, who doesn't have an ounce of fat on his body, eats like a starving wolverine. :-)

  4. Sounds like a great time! Actions speak louder than words, so you really never know how you might be influencing someone for the better!