Taking out the garbage

recycling bin

After being someone who had such a struggle to walk from a parking lot into a store that I considered asking my doctor for a handicapped parking sticker, I now enjoy a walk through my neighborhood every chance I get. Except for Wednesdays. I don’t like to walk on Wednesdays.

Wednesday is the day the trash gets picked up. It isn’t the sight or the smell of the garbage that I find particularly offensive, it’s the recycling bins. Those bins are filled with pizza boxes and ice cream cartons and empty low-fat cereal boxes. My neighbors are mostly kind and wonderful people, but they are also carbivores.

Before I’m accused of being judgmental, let me describe my own recycling bin that my neighbors saw before I began low-carb high-fat. Empty Pepsi bottles, diet Pepsi bottles, low-fat whole grain cheerios, low-fat gold fish crackers, granola bars, and low-fat frozen waffle cartons. Those last four were the “healthy” foods I fed my growing children. Our pediatricians had instructed us to give the toddlers low-fat, whole-grain Cheerios because those little “o’s” helped them to develop fine motor skills.

By the time our daughter was three, her doctors were beating us up verbally because her weight was increasing exponentially. She had gone from a preemie whose weight didn’t register on the growth chart to an obese toddler whose weight was off the growth chart, and it was my fault. The pediatricians told us, “No juice!” She didn’t drink juice, only water. “Switch to skim milk!” We did so. “Give her only low-fat foods!” Each morning I toasted a low-fat frozen waffle, smeared it with low-fat peanut butter (high fructose corn syrup added), a dollop of fat-free, high-sugar grape jam, and topped it with a second toasted waffle. She ate that waffle sandwich in the car on the way to daycare. I dutifully filled her travel cup with skim milk to drink with it.

My young daughter was always hungry, and I figured that she just had the same horrible metabolism that I had. We moms make a lot of mistakes even when we are trying really hard. From the time she was four years old, I packed her lunches, low-fat cheese, lean deli meat on low-fat bread, and fruit. She dipped her broccoli in packaged low-fat Ranch dressing. A preschool teacher once criticized her lunch and told her that she should not be eating high-fat cheese. It was the only time I ever requested a meeting with the preschool headmaster.

I began to dread taking her to the pediatrician for well visits because the doctors always worried about her weight. They told us, “Put her in sports!” We did. We tried soccer and swim and a fitness class for kids at the fitness center. She continued to gain weight more rapidly than her peers. She enjoyed swimming, but we found her appetite was ravenous afterward. I fed her fruit. “No soft drinks!” said the pediatrician. She was the ONLY child in at the end-of-year kindergarten party who willingly chose water from the beverage cooler instead of a soft drink. She was also the only child who was overweight.

As I planned meals for my family I worked to provide “5-a-day” fruits and veggies, often relying on canned fruits because of our busy schedule. When I could, I went to the farmer’s market and bought watermelon and cantaloupe. We nearly always had apples, bananas, and grapes on hand. I had no idea that the fructose and sugary canned fruits were perpetuating the problem.

When I consider the foods I used to buy, I cringe. Frozen chicken tenders and lean frozen meals were staples. I fed them frozen fries and hot dogs with buns and ketchup – lots of ketchup. They ate from not-so-happy meals as we scurried about. Pizza, frozen or delivery, was not an uncommon meal choice. I added a fruit and some raw broccoli or carrots with ranch to get in those “5-a-day” “healthy” options. I didn’t know any better.

Could low carb help?

After I started following a very low-carb diet, so did my husband. We knew how our hunger was suddenly tamed and how effortlessly the weight seemed to melt away. I wondered if it would help my daughter. She was only 9 years old when I first started and 10 by the time I considered it as an option for her. I remembered all of the “diets” and food restriction I tolerated as a child and struggled with how to help her.

She needed to know what I knew. She needed to be empowered to make her own decisions. She was entering a time in which body image was becoming important, and she had already endured fat shaming. I could only help her by supporting her. She needed to know that I was on her side. I decided to help her in three ways. First, I would help her to learn what I had learned. Second, I would provide delicious foods so that she never felt deprived. Three, I would give her the grace and latitude to choose. My mama’s heart worried.

Even though she was a pretty precocious ten-year-old, I knew she needed something that was easy to understand and that provided concrete examples. It had to be her idea to do this. I had just finished reading Dr. Davis’ book, Wheat Belly. Showing her my copy, I suggested she might want to read through it.

If nothing else, it had some interesting recipes. She could pick out something she liked. I left the book in her room and never mentioned it again. She did. Within a week, she told me that she had read it. She also told me that she wanted to test her blood glucose. I showed her how. We were both surprised by the number. Knowing her grandmother is diabetic provided extra motivation, “Mom, I want to try this.” Sure thing baby girl. Sure thing.

She joined the journey and was amazed at how much better her hunger was managed. She continued to monitor her blood glucose, and so I bought her a meter. I never asked her to weigh. She did weigh from time to time, but I always respected her privacy and never monitored her weight.

Kristie with her daughter

Kristie with her daughter

Navigating food wasn’t always easy. There were times when I made “suggestions” and times when I simply said nothing. My job was to come up with recipes that kept her from feeling deprived and to provide good options for when she was with her friends – all of whom seem to gorge on packaged food products and wear the smallest clothing sizes available! At her last well visit, her pediatrician said to me, “I’m happy with her weight! She’s not built to be a skinny Minnie, but she’s in a good range.” To my daughter she said, “You’re healthy and you’re smart and you’re awesome in every way!” Finally, her doctor got the diagnosis right!

As I walk by those recycling bins on Wednesdays, the low-fat cereal boxes haunt me a little. Along with the pizza boxes they remind me of all the meals I got wrong. The ice cream cartons take me back to the milkshakes I used to make on Fridays to “celebrate” the weekend. I shake my head at that as I circle through the neighborhood and back to my own recycling bin. Look at what’s in there now. An empty coconut oil canister kept company by a discarded carton of heavy cream. Sometimes I wonder what those carbivore neighbors think of us!


Kristie Sullivan

More

A Low-Carb Diet for Beginners

Earlier with Kristie

Disrupted by Hunger

Ruining the World, One Drink at a Time

The Vault

The Sound of Silence

How a Pumpkin Pie Spice Muffin Can Mean Freedom

Mastering the Waves of Ketosis

My Miracle Oil

Low-carb basics

18 comments

  1. KimH
    Love it!! You two are pretty awesome and a blessing to the world. Thanks always!!
  2. Barb
    awesome article Kristie! So down to earth and honest... as always! Blessings!
  3. Lisa
    Thank you, Kristie. This article hit it home for me and could not have come at a better time. Much appreciated!
  4. Tiffanee
    Kristie, THANK YOU FROM MY HEART. Your most recent post hit it home for me too, and I actually sit here with tears in my eyes because we have such similar stories, backgrounds, etc. I have posted comments in other articles you have written but this one addresses my specific comment/question to you from your last article! I too am a 'former' bariatric patient, having had VSG in 2014. Your suggestion of how to approach my kiddos has been a helpful one. Such an insightful REAL look at life.
  5. Urs
    Dear Kristie,
    you are my favorite writer on this website and the reason, why I am comming back regularly.
    Thank you.
    Regards from Switzerland
  6. Maureen Gent
    This is just what I needed to hear! Thank you for you story it is giving me the push I Needed! Just about skipped over it but something inside me said this is the one to read slowly and carefully.
  7. Diana
    Tomorrow is recycling in our neighborhood and it strikes me how very true your observations are!
    Thank you for framing the discussions as well as the feelings.
  8. Jean
    I have the same reaction to what I see in people's recycling bins. It's very sad the kind of junk people put in their bodies and their children's bodies. Of course I was once also one of those people.
  9. Hayley scott
    Really a great success story....well done to you both.
  10. Dan
    Wow, Great writing. Your story almost brought tears to my eyes for two reason; Your daughter having to endure fat shaming despite making every effort known to her is not what a child needs, well done for guiding her to the only true solution: human food. Secondly, how lucky I feel that I caught on to LCHF very shortly after my first child was born and that I've been able to raise two children on LCHF and their health speaks for itself.

    If your daughter thought preschool was bad, doubtless she has no idea how bitchy and image-orientated high school will be. If she keeps up with the LCHF way of life she will be exactly the weight nature intended her to be. She will be fit and healthy and strong and it'll be effortless. Her peers will be running their arses off trying to balance calories in vs calories out and she'll just be perfect!

  11. Phillip Simmons
    Awesome, I wish all children had such sn intelligent loving Mom. It makes me miss my deceased loving mom. Congrates Kristie your in the top % of awesome moms. Keep up the good work "Wheat Belly" is one book I've used to help me loose almost 30lbs. Read anything by Dr. Joseph Mercoala reading "Fat for Fuel" at the moment...enjoy your journey with your daughter, your both on the perfect path
  12. Susan
    I asked both my early 20 something daughters to read the "Obesity Code" this summer to ease my Mother's Guilt in teaching them the wrong eating habits as they were growing up. One daughter is as skinny as a rail and is slowly changing her perspective and even slower changing her eating habits. The other daughter has struggled with her weight since she reached adulthood, but has lost lost nearly 30 pounds this summer by switching to LCHF with a little bit of intermittent fasting thrown in--she's a convert. Better late than never!!
  13. Nicole H
    My heart warmed after reading this. I don't think there's a mom out there that hasn't fed their child these kinds of things not realizing how truly bad they are. We're all learning. Thank you for letting us see we're not alone as we navigate raising our children and learning to eat better! Great story! Hope your daughter is doing well! You both look great!
  14. Deb Olsen
    WOW this made me cry! I have my own guilt about how I choose to feed my children. They are age 20 and 18 now and I fear it is too late for me to fix it for them. My son still lives at home and has always been a very picky eater. He also have a form of autism known as Asperger's Syndrome. Not sure how easy it will be to get him to eat the way I want to eat. I have Diabetes and Fibromyalgia and another autoimmune disease that they have not been able to diagnose yet. I also just had a total hip replacement 7 months ago. I started researching eating programs to help my pain and inflammation as pills/meds were NOT helping at all. I am also gluten intolerant. I am trying to gradually implement a keto lifestyle and hope to get my son and husband on board as well. WE are all obese! Thank you so much for the information that you provide!
  15. Karen June Miller
    Wonderful article!

    Karen in Idaho

  16. Jennifer
    Thank you for sharing this story Kristie. I love love love your videos and Grace is fabulous too. This story has really made me re-evaluate how I feed my kids.
  17. Vicky Thatcher
    Love this story.. we all as Mothers make mistakes, I know I have... but thinks to u we have gotten wiser... I love the way u handled it also.... u let it b her choice.. that's what is hard to get through to people.. it's got to b their choice with a little help.... u both look awesome... n thanks again for this journey u have started me on.... I can't believe the difference n not wanting to snack not being hungry.. it is amazing... scales and inches are already melting away... I have tried every diet out there n nothing worked... I m so glad I had found your videos.. n so glad I took time n watched one.. I was hooked... Thank u for helping so many others...
  18. Melode Libra
    I have been watching Cooking Keto with Kristie for a while now, and I want to say that you are an amazing person who is beautiful inside and out! You have an incredible love for your family and I am especially impressed by the bond that you have with your husband. You are obviously very much in love with each other and that love overflows to your sweet children. Keep up the good work! My favorite video is My failure story why I do this, although I am heartbroken when you point out your sweet chubby thighs as a toddler. You were and are a beautiful woman! Good luck in your future endeavors, I look forward to the day when I can say, oh Kristie Sullivan? I've been watching her for years!

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