Monday, November 10

Low-Carb Drama Queens at All Ages

This post is going to be one of those posts that is embarrassingly honest, at the risk of making me -- and my kid -- significantly less "cool".

Even the lowcarb world has its own version of what is cool and what is politically incorrect. Not surprisingly, anything which does not begin and end with "I eat lowcarb and it's the answer to the universe" is on the un-PC list, and lucky for me, so far, LC really HAS been at least part of the answer to my health universe, so I can't diss that shining ideal. But it hasn't yet been the whole answer, which is perhaps no fault to LC, it just means there's clearly a larger question, and it probably starts with 'nutrition' and possibly exercise involvement, as well as micronutrient (not just the macro of carbs/cals/protein) intake, as well as a drama queen getting off her supersized butt and doing it consistently.

Oh wait, you mean my own effort is supposed to be part of the process here?! Oh yeah! I forgot! (And to think, I was all set to blame Atkins, because we all know that his falling on ice is the reason I eat too much peanut butter and why we should keep buying Nabisco chips. Anybody who doesn't see the connection here hasn't been reading enough modern AP newsline 'public relations versions of ridiculously bad alleged-science studies funded by food producers' marketing designed-as-news.)

Aside from "the rest" of the answer to my health, whatever it(s) may be, there is another issue that lowcarb hasn't yet been able to solve: the issue of a single supersized (5'6" ~370#) 43 year old mom and her obese (~5'2" 180#) 12 year old daughter, hereinafter referred to simply as: The Low-Carb Drama Queens.

Drama Queen cue: "Good Morning!", also known as, "Mo-ommmmm, I'm hungry, make me food! What is there to eat that isn't meat or eggs or dairy or gluten-free almond/flax/coconut and can be made quickly 'cause I'm starving and you have to work?"

Answer: nothing. You will learn to like eating eggs and meat and almond/flax/coconut concoctions 365 days a year or you can starve. Alternatively, you can eat green vegetables (which you loathe). Don't complain. Your friends live on McDonalds and can wear skinny jeans. If you don't learn to live on chicken and flax you will cease fitting into your size 16 stretch denim leggings which already look like they are about to bust 4 seams simultaneously. And Mom will just continue being the size of a refrigerator but slightly better looking.

Should you successfully live on meat and glutenless other-things three times a day for the next seven days plus no bad snacks and no sneaking food in the night, your total reward for this impressive 168 solid hours of dedication will be: er, probably nothing. You might, maybe, have lost a pound, although increased exercise or muscle retention may in turn be making that seem worse instead of better. But you are supposed to have faith that if you combine those 168 solid hours of effort into another round and another round and another round that eventually you will see actual results. No, this does not equate to mom's belief in the tooth fairy.

Drama Queen negotiation: well can't we have enough cheese to stop a German tank in its tracks, like some Dairy Society version of Non-Lethal Weapons, with which we could completely obliterate the taste (and point) of having eggs or meat with the meal? Preferably also with something else high-fat for taste such as sour cream for example, or some lowcarb (but not when it's in quantity) ketchup?

Answer: well I suppose. There, I made you happy! Now, we just ingested a breakfast with as many calories as a federal banking bailout costs dollars, and hence the former experience will be just about as good for us as the latter. It is potentially true that if our overall carbs from all that cheese and sour cream managed to stay relatively low, we might not gain weight, but, given that (a) we can gain fat by even thinking of non-diet sodas (a medical process hereinafter known as "quantum soda metabolation") and (b) the carbs aren't real low in that case, well it's probably going to make things worse, unless (c) miraculously we don't gain fat from it, which merely means that (d) we managed to survive another meal and hours of life and get one meal closer to burnout and flying off the wagon in frustration, all without doing a damn thing about the weight problem.

Drama Queen cue: It's lunchtime, also known as "Mo-ommmm, make me food, I'm hungry! What can we have that isn't what breakfast was and isn't meat or veggies or funky flax/almond/coconut variants?"

Answer: nothing. You will learn to like eating eggs and meat and almond/flax/coconut concoctions 365 days a year or you can starve. Alternatively, you can eat green vegetables (which you loathe). Don't complain. It's not the fault of girls you see all over the place that they were probably born with genetics that make them thin while you were born to a 300# insulin resistant mother with high blood pressure and no prenatal care until 7 months and a lousy diet before, during and after pregnancy. No I'm not telling you that you were cursed at birth, your grandparents already tell you that, I always tell you that your destiny is in your own hands and we can get a handle on this if we work on it. Would you like some asparagus with that? No, of course I am not trying to make you vomit. We're going to have hamburger patties again. Yes, for the 1,928,834th time. Would you like some ranch dressing to dip that in?

Drama Queen cue: it's dinnertime, also known as "Mo-ommm, make me food, I'm hungry! What can we have that isn't lunch or breakfast and isn't meat or veggies or funky flax/almond/coconut variants?"

Answer: nothing. You will learn to like eating eggs and meat and almond/flax/coconut concoctions 365 days a year or you can starve. Alternatively, you can eat green vegetables (which you loathe). Don't complain. Your mother needs to be on a lowcarb eating plan and she actually LIKES meat. Whether this is because she is twice your size and an O positive blood type, vs. your A negative blood type, is unknown, and I heard that's all a 'fad' anyway. To salvage your having to eat meat... AGAIN... I am going to make the meat in a way that you can best stand. I will coat small chunks of chicken in parmesan and bake it and we'll dip it in ranch, or I will drown it in alfredo sauce and we'll bake it. Of course, now we just ate enough calories to ensure this dinner will not lose a single ounce of weight off our bodies, although it may, IF sufficiently lowcarb, prevent yet another ounce from being added.

Drama Queen cue: it's after dinner but before bedtime, also known as "Mo-ommm, make me food, I'm hungry! What can we have that isn't lunch or breakfast and isn't meat or veggies or funky flax/almond/coconut variants?"

Answer: nothing. You will learn to like eating eggs and meat and almond/flax/coconut concoctions 365 days a year or you can starve. Alternatively, you can eat green vegetables (which you loathe). Don't complain. Your growth hormone and many other things have been affected by your being self-sleep deprived and eating carbs before sleep most of your life, so we are solving this by ensuring any snacks are lowcarb. Here, have a string cheese. No, you may not have 11 string cheeses, have ONE.

Next Morning: Drama Queen darling, what happened to Drama Queen mom's cream cheese? Oh, you ate the entire bar with a spoon? And the peanut butter too? And all three of the lowcarb ice cream bar 'treats'? And drink the last six diet sodas? And the entire bag of (8-servings) peas, the legume (not-quite-a-veggie) you like nuked with butter? All while I slept? Despite my attempt to ply you with protein and fat so you wouldn't be hungry? I see. Oh, and you're hungry again because it's morning? Let's re-start that cycle!

End of the week: the scale says, "You ate 2.7 billion calories this week. Your carbs were fairly low, though. You have not really lost any weight. You did rebuild some muscle thanks to the extra protein-aminos. Hence, you have gained a pound."

Drama Queen mom considers her options.

1. Put the child in prison. Build a door at end of hallway that can be locked. Alternatively, explore "the child with the Iron Mask" scenario. This might, after all, lead to her become a rich, if resentful, book heroine someday. Unchecked: not yet tried.

2. Get rid of all interesting food ingredients that allow my average meals to be slightly more interesting, or that allow small treats, or occasional quick foods. This includes cream cheese, peanut butter, any lowcarb treat, diet soda. This leaves: meat. small amounts of cheese. Sometimes a veggie. Check: done. Result: now MY eating plan sucks totally compared to how cool it was before, my variety is lower, my treats are nonexistent, and I can't make anything that doesn't require 'cooking meat or eggs'.

3. Become Mom From Hell. Make food, make complaining about food before, during or after akin to a federal crime by so freaking out at any complaint that child is afraid to mention it. Child will eat it or mom will threaten to rip out her tonsils and stuff it in. Check: mostly done, with variants. I skipped the tonsils part. Problem: this only works in limited duration. Like any other kind of misery, you can get used to it, and then it loses its effectiveness.

4. ____________ please insert your better ideas here.

PJ, aka Drama Queen Mom.


KMG said...

What's something she really wants? Perhaps you can negotiate like, "If you stick to the eating plan for 30 days with only 1-2 screw-ups, we can go to the city and do something fun you never get to do." Or buy a new outfit, or whatever.

That technique depends on the kid, though, and how well she can understand delayed gratification.

I'm sorry, it's such a rough situation to be in and not being a parent, I can't offer any advice beyond the tricks I use for myself.

nonegiven said...

How different is 0+ and A-? Have the test results come back yet? Maybe she wouldn't be as hungry if she was getting exactly what she needs and absolutely none of what craves. I'd consider a padlock on the small fridge you keep in your room for that stuff, you're walking to the store often enough that you wouldn't need to keep large amounts of anything like that.
My mother does the blood type diet, when she sticks to it she feels a lot better and she's 74.

Anonymous said...

Teens heavy or thin can eat their weight each day and more. When my son lived at home i couldn't keep food in the house. How about letting her make up her own menu from low carb choices and helping you cook the food?
There are lots of good kid friendly LC recipes around. Like deep dish pizza quiche, deep fried wings, and chili dog casserole. I would use my crock pot a lot and make things she could reheat for herself. Like a chili with black beans, chicken soup, or shredded bbqed pork on lc tortillas.
Low Carb tortillas and Flat breads can be used for a variety of different sandwiches.
Berries and sugar free jello and whipped topping make great healthy deserts.
Since she is young and depending on your eating plan, you might want to add a few whole grains to her diet to help fill her bottomless brown rice and whole wheat pastas.

Nina said...

I don't know. I *was* your daughter, basically, except that my mother wanted me to eat a low fat diet which didn't work for me at all and sent me constantly scurrying to the refrigerator in the middle of the night in search of Real Food. Or eating out any chance that I got.

I think that the more you restrict the options, the more you create a reality in which food will always be an issue, in which it is not possible to have a normal relationship with food. As you of course well know, you can't make anyone lose weight. But on the other hand, it's heartbreaking to watch your child go down that path, especially when you know all the potholes in that particular road.

But there's not that much you can do, I think.

I've tried not to make food an issue for my son, ever, but it's easier for him; he's a boy, plus some of his father's thin genetics seem to be counterbalancing my fat genes.

But I think that what I would do is this. Make her responsible for her own food choices. For choosing and cooking what she wants to eat. Let her eat different things from you. Give it a time period. And see what happens. I think that if I had been allowed to choose a low carb diet as a kid, I would have done better. But maybe she would do better with some different food choices. And if the experiment is a total failure... then at least, maybe, she learns some personal responsibility for what she is putting in her mouth, one way or the other. As it is, all of the responsibility is basically on you. And that can't work in the long run.

KMG said...

I was just thinking something similar to what Nina said and came back to post. Perhaps if she was allowed to come up with her own food choices within the parameters you set, and you let her cook/prepare them, she'd be happier. It might even get her interested in cooking. Maybe. Some kids would be too lazy or immature to do this, but I know that other kids would love the chance to be in control of something so adult.

RedCairo said...

I think that's a good point you guys. To make some clear goals with rewards. And to let her help define what we're going to eat.

I have worked to teach her to cook but despite that she's been able to make several things for many years, she associates cooking with mom the programmer ignoring her you see, so she hates it and will most the time starve rather than do it. It is one of our biggest debates that I personally have to cook constantly. But I will not gripe about doing it for the next few months... I just want it to WORK.

As for her eating at night. I have tried very hard to not put a lot of judgement on her, to not make her feel bad, and I tell myself, if she is overeating, it is because she is deficient in some nutrient or whatever. She needs more protein and more nutrients I guess. So hopefully a more successful effort in the meat-and-vitamins and occasional veggie/fruit will help.

But as far as that goes, I am mostly ticked because -- well hell, this is MY eating plan TOO, and it's hard enough for me to be good and stay with everything, and not being able to have gluten and minimizing caseine only makes it that much worse, and so if the few things I can add in to make my plan more versatile or rich, I have to take out because if I have the she'll scarf them down, well that sucks for me! It really does. (My local store does not have any of the lowcarb options as far as like a treat, I have to pay $10 for a cab to walmart to get that stuff.) I'm resentful that she is screwing up MY eating plan frankly.

So this week I'm letting her eat everything and anything she wants. Next week we are lowcarb AND with little exercise breaks through the day, too. I'm going to implement the Mother From Hell™ strategy if she balks even slightly.

I think if I can get most (not all but most) caseine (cheese/dairy) out of our lives and get much more down to meat and broccoli and various kinds of stews (some beans), eggs and some little baking options, ditch the diet soda and get her to drink cold water, take vitamins and enzymes and so on with me, exercise a few times a day just a little, that hopefully in a month I will be able to say, "Look at the results, feel the results, wasn't this worth it?" I hope so.

We did this once before and it worked great for her. It was very exciting! But then the concept of food restriction led to her decimating the refrigerator at night and she has regained that weight and more. Sigh.

I did not have a weight problem as a child so maybe on some level I just don't understand. It's hard enough to deal with as an adult, with a lot more maturity and discipline and so on, let alone as a 12 year old.

Nina said...

Here's another two idle thoughts from a formerly fat kid... I suspect that if she's eating at night, it's not really about nutrition, it's about boredom or bad food habits. I spend most of my childhood reading and eating. At the same time. Got so if I had a book, I had to have food in my hand, too. Entertainment, and let me shut the world out a little. Maybe something like this is going on (or, maybe not, of course). But there's nothing that makes food desirable like restricting it, especially when you're a kid and you have little long-term motivation.

My other thought is about exercise... I never did this when I was a kid because it "wasn't fun." I still don't do enough because right now it's hard for me to get to the gym and I am a pathetic whiner who is bored silly by exercise DVDs. I just bitch at the screen and do nothing. Anyway, I bought a Wii Fit. It's kind of a pricey investment in something that may not work (since you have to buy the console AND the board), but I have to say that it's got all the "game" elements that keep me motivated enough to actually DO it most days, and it's not heavy exercise, but I feel better for it. And when I feel better, I eat less. I would think that this would be great for a kid.

Vikki said...

I have to agree with Nina bout the night bingeing, as a fat kid turn super-sized woman, I have so many "trained" eating habits I'm trying to break. If I'm up at night alone, I'm suddenly "hungry" even thought I had a good filling dinner and my bodies is no where near hungry.

My mom did the best she could trying to help me loose the weight, but she herself never managed it.

And how do you teach your child that eating is only about nutrition and not about fun and entertainment, it's not a celebration or a gift, when the media is telling a completely different story. But the fact is for people such as myself, food has to be only about one thing, fuel. When it becomes anything else, I'm in danger of going crazy!..giggle

I wish you both the very best of luck and I do so wish I had a little magic gem of wisdom to pass on. But the truth is, until she's ready to do this, nothing is going to change her.