Character vs. Chemistry, Part Six

By Tom Naughton


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from Fat Head.

Many moons ago I got into an online debate with a bodybuilder I nicknamed “Cliffy” because his know-it-all attitude reminded me of the mailman from Cheers. As someone who’d never been fat, Cliffy was convinced fat people are simply weak-willed — unlike, say, Cliffy. In other words, they’re fat because of a character flaw.

I pointed out that there’s been a sharp rise in the number of kids and even babies who are obese and asked Cliffy if it’s because kids these days lack the discipline of kids from previous generations.

Blame the kids? Gosh no, Cliffy wouldn’t do that. After explaining that I’m a fat, lazy old man, Cliffy insisted that kids these days are obese because their parents are feeding them too much. It’s the parents who have the character flaw.

I pointed out that my girls are both lean and healthy, thus proving that my wife and I are good parents of fine character. We obviously don’t feed the girls too much, and that’s why they’re lean. So how do we accomplish this feat of parental responsibility? Do we calculate how many calories they burn per day and feed them accordingly? Nope. I have no idea how many calories they burn in a day. I have no idea how many calories they consume in a day. We keep our girls lean and healthy by feeding them as much as they want to eat every time they tell us they’re hungry. Every. Single. Time.

When Alana was having growth spurts, she’d sometimes get out of bed after midnight and tell me (because I’m the family night owl) that she was hungry. So I’d feed her. If she was still hungry, I’d feed her more. But most of the time, the girls don’t eat all that much. They usually walk away from the dinner table with food still on their plates.

While out grocery shopping a couple of years ago, Chareva and I ran into a mom whose son was in Sara’s class. The mom, who struck me as a nice lady, told us she was going to push her son to play more outdoors during summer vacation because he was getting fat. So of course I sneaked a peek in her grocery cart. You can guess what I saw: skim milk, jugs of apple and orange juice, bread, noodles, Cheerios, fat-free yogurt cups and plenty of other food-like products with “LOW-FAT!” stamped on the label.

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