Teenage Waistland

Teenage Waistland: A Former Fat Kid Weighs in on Living Large, Losing Weight, and How Parents Can (and can’t) Help by Abby Ellin (2005)

I read part of this book (skimmed it, really) two years ago in 2006. I heard of it again recently, and vaguely remembered skimming it, so I put it on hold. I am almost done reading it, and find it quite riveting. The point is, basically that by the time kids are teens, parents have no control over their kids’ weights, and that individual temperments, genes, etc, will partially dictate a person’s weight. Also, that teens need to be able to make their own decisions. When kids are young, even before they start school, parents can try to present healthy examples to the kids, and offer healthy foods. Many of the examples of parents in this book show that the parents themselves have a variety of food issues. How are they going to really help their children when they are hung up on themselves as well when it comes to food, eating, weight?

The book is a combination of the author’s experiences growing up, in her family and at a variety of “fat camps” she spent several summers at. As a young adult, she had disordered eating as well. For a while, every third day she could binge if she wanted to, but the two days between, she had a nearly anorexic-type approach to eating. She lost boyfriends because she refused to eat with them. When she was growing up, her parents and grandma were always on her about her weight (and they were “dieting”, too), and she loved food so much, and more when she couldn’t have it.

The book has notes, resources, and references. It is a well-written book and definitely worth reading. It will make you think.

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