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The Heavy: A Mother, a Daughter, a Diet—a Memoir

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For readers of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Bringing Up Bebe, a mother’s unflinching memoir about helping her seven year-old daughter lose weight, and the challenges of modern parenting.   When a doctor pronounced Dara-Lynn Weiss’s daughter Bea obese at age seven, the mother of two knew she had to take action. But how could a woman with her own food and body issues— For readers of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Bringing Up Bebe, a mother’s unflinching memoir about helping her seven year-old daughter lose weight, and the challenges of modern parenting.   When a doctor pronounced Dara-Lynn Weiss’s daughter Bea obese at age seven, the mother of two knew she had to take action. But how could a woman with her own food and body issues—not to mention spotty eating habits—successfully parent a little girl around the issue of obesity?   In this much-anticipated, controversial memoir, Dara-Lynn Weiss chronicles the struggle and journey to get Bea healthy. In describing their process—complete with frustrations, self-recriminations, dark humor, and some surprising strategies—Weiss reveals the hypocrisy inherent in the debates over many cultural hot-button issues: from processed snacks, organic foods, and school lunches to dieting, eating disorders, parenting methods, discipline, and kids’ self-esteem.   Compounding the challenge were eating environments—from school to restaurants to birthday parties—that set Bea up to fail, and unwelcome judgments from fellow parents. Childhood obesity, Weiss discovered, is a crucible not just for the child but also for parents. She was criticized as readily for enabling Bea’s condition as she was for enforcing the rigid limits necessary to address it. Never before had Weiss been made to feel so wrong for trying to do the right thing.   The damned if you do/damned if you don’t predicament came into sharp relief when Weiss raised some of these issues in a Vogue article. Critics came out in full force, and Weiss unwittingly found herself at the center of an emotional and highly charged debate on childhood obesity.   A touching and relatable story of loving a child enough to be unpopular, The Heavy will leave readers applauding Weiss’s success, her bravery, and her unconditional love for her daughter. Advance praise for The Heavy   “Have you ever been ‘that mother’? You know, the one who others criticize or question? If so, then you know what incredible courage and daring it can take to raise a child in a way that doesn't always meet other people’s expectations. Dara-Lynn Weiss is inspirational for her sheer will, her unwavering dedication, and her willingness to take accountability for her own actions. The Heavy is a stark look at imperfect parenting—and why our mistakes make us better parents.”—Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness   “Dara-Lynn Weiss had to defy her child’s school, the judgments of other parents, and our fast food culture to rescue her daughter from the epidemic of obesity. Parents should see this as an inspiration—and a wake-up call.”—Amy Dickinson, “Ask Amy” advice columnist and author of The Mighty Queens of Freeville   “The Heavy should be required reading for every parent because it tackles—with refreshing honesty—that universal question we’ll all face: how to do what’s best for our children, even when the kids resist our efforts and society judges our approach. Dara-Lynn Weiss has written a brave book and started a crucial and overdue national conversation.”—Abigail Pogrebin, author of One and the Same and Stars of David


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For readers of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Bringing Up Bebe, a mother’s unflinching memoir about helping her seven year-old daughter lose weight, and the challenges of modern parenting.   When a doctor pronounced Dara-Lynn Weiss’s daughter Bea obese at age seven, the mother of two knew she had to take action. But how could a woman with her own food and body issues— For readers of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and Bringing Up Bebe, a mother’s unflinching memoir about helping her seven year-old daughter lose weight, and the challenges of modern parenting.   When a doctor pronounced Dara-Lynn Weiss’s daughter Bea obese at age seven, the mother of two knew she had to take action. But how could a woman with her own food and body issues—not to mention spotty eating habits—successfully parent a little girl around the issue of obesity?   In this much-anticipated, controversial memoir, Dara-Lynn Weiss chronicles the struggle and journey to get Bea healthy. In describing their process—complete with frustrations, self-recriminations, dark humor, and some surprising strategies—Weiss reveals the hypocrisy inherent in the debates over many cultural hot-button issues: from processed snacks, organic foods, and school lunches to dieting, eating disorders, parenting methods, discipline, and kids’ self-esteem.   Compounding the challenge were eating environments—from school to restaurants to birthday parties—that set Bea up to fail, and unwelcome judgments from fellow parents. Childhood obesity, Weiss discovered, is a crucible not just for the child but also for parents. She was criticized as readily for enabling Bea’s condition as she was for enforcing the rigid limits necessary to address it. Never before had Weiss been made to feel so wrong for trying to do the right thing.   The damned if you do/damned if you don’t predicament came into sharp relief when Weiss raised some of these issues in a Vogue article. Critics came out in full force, and Weiss unwittingly found herself at the center of an emotional and highly charged debate on childhood obesity.   A touching and relatable story of loving a child enough to be unpopular, The Heavy will leave readers applauding Weiss’s success, her bravery, and her unconditional love for her daughter. Advance praise for The Heavy   “Have you ever been ‘that mother’? You know, the one who others criticize or question? If so, then you know what incredible courage and daring it can take to raise a child in a way that doesn't always meet other people’s expectations. Dara-Lynn Weiss is inspirational for her sheer will, her unwavering dedication, and her willingness to take accountability for her own actions. The Heavy is a stark look at imperfect parenting—and why our mistakes make us better parents.”—Christine Carter, author of Raising Happiness   “Dara-Lynn Weiss had to defy her child’s school, the judgments of other parents, and our fast food culture to rescue her daughter from the epidemic of obesity. Parents should see this as an inspiration—and a wake-up call.”—Amy Dickinson, “Ask Amy” advice columnist and author of The Mighty Queens of Freeville   “The Heavy should be required reading for every parent because it tackles—with refreshing honesty—that universal question we’ll all face: how to do what’s best for our children, even when the kids resist our efforts and society judges our approach. Dara-Lynn Weiss has written a brave book and started a crucial and overdue national conversation.”—Abigail Pogrebin, author of One and the Same and Stars of David

30 review for The Heavy: A Mother, a Daughter, a Diet—a Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Eirene

    I hated this book. It should have been called "How to Give Your Kid an Eating Disorder." The mother of the obese 6 year old in this book describes pretty disordered eating patterns that she had most of her life...juice cleanses, fasting to drop weight quickly, etc etc. She talks about how she struggled with being overweight but she was 115 POUNDS instead of 100. What?!?! What kind of delusions is this woman under? 115 pounds? It was also a turn off that the writer apparently thought her and her h I hated this book. It should have been called "How to Give Your Kid an Eating Disorder." The mother of the obese 6 year old in this book describes pretty disordered eating patterns that she had most of her life...juice cleanses, fasting to drop weight quickly, etc etc. She talks about how she struggled with being overweight but she was 115 POUNDS instead of 100. What?!?! What kind of delusions is this woman under? 115 pounds? It was also a turn off that the writer apparently thought her and her husband were perfect parents in every way. There was a part in the book where Bea had a bunch of treats and food at a school festival and when she got home, the mom made her eat a light dinner. It was a salad with nonfat dressing and fruit for dessert. I felt badly for Bea. Her mom wasn't teaching her how to eat in a healthy way, she was teaching her that if you go over your calorie allotment for a meal you need to starve yourself at the next meal! "It was the most severe food-cutting move I'd ever considered, but I went ahead with it. I knew she had ingested more than enough food to make it through the rest of the day. A child who eats 700-800 extra calories at lunch is not going to starve to death if she does not get dinner. [pg 144]" She then says "The efforts I had to take to steer Bea through these obstacles were overwhelming. I hadn't signed up for this. [pg 145]" What? Yes you did! You signed up for this when you decided to have children. Parents are supposed to teach their kids to exercise, eat healthy, know their manners and abc's. It's all part of it. School certainly doesn't teach kids the right way to eat. TV doesn't. Their friends don't. I so don't get this woman! Saturday mornings was when Bea weighed in. She woke up and was hungry and the mother said "Pee, take off your clothes, and weigh yourself first. [pg 161]" The kid threw a tantrum, saying she didn't want to weigh herself and the mom said "Sorry, you have to." Man is that disordered. She also ranted about how almonds, yogurt and salmon were unhealthy. If you can't tell, I pretty much hated this book. While I found some interesting things in it here and there, most of it made me really angry and really sad for this girl growing up with an unhealthy mindset about food. There was so much about this book that disturbed me and I didn't even go into it all.

  2. 4 out of 5

    ~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~

    I am so torn here. On the one hand, I command Weiss for recognizing that her daughter had an overeating and weight problem and being proactive about it; on the other hand, I'm not sure her approach was the right one. To be fair, she doesn't purport to tell others how to manage their kids' weight issues. She is simply telling her family's story. This is a memoir of her young daughter Bea's struggles with her weight (by age 7 Bea was classified as obese and weighed nearly 100 pounds at approximate I am so torn here. On the one hand, I command Weiss for recognizing that her daughter had an overeating and weight problem and being proactive about it; on the other hand, I'm not sure her approach was the right one. To be fair, she doesn't purport to tell others how to manage their kids' weight issues. She is simply telling her family's story. This is a memoir of her young daughter Bea's struggles with her weight (by age 7 Bea was classified as obese and weighed nearly 100 pounds at approximately 4.5 feet tall; by comparison, my 7-year-old daughter, who admittedly is on the opposite end of the weight spectrum, weighs just over 40 pounds at 4 feet tall, and an average-weight 7-year-old girl would weigh somewhere around 55 to 60 pounds) and the diet Weiss put her on. Weiss discusses her own weight-related issues (although, by her own admission, she was never even close to being overweight), including bouts with binging and purging using laxatives. Weiss' decision to write an article for Vogue of all publications detailing the diet and allowing Bea to be photographed for the article was not a wise one, something she acknowledges in this book. The article met with a vitriolic backlash, with blogs calling Weiss a Nazi and an unfit mother. I never doubted Weiss' good intentions, but I've also read medical literature about the issue, which suggests that it's not wise to have young children on a diet, and that the goal should be to keep them from gaining more weight vs. having them lose weight. Bea loses 16 pounds in a year, a slow and steady weight loss by all accounts, but Weiss' focus on calories vs. nutrition left a bad taste in my mouth. She claims that the family always ate healthfully, yet when she's first shopping for the new eating regime she states that she'd never really shopped for apples before and isn't it amazing how many varieties there are? (Seriously, that's WTF kind of statement. I'm no gourmet cook, but I can list at least 10 apple varieties and know which ones my kids prefer.) Another thing that bothered me is the fact that Weiss didn't allow Bea any flexibility and fed her quite a few processed, packaged foods (like 100-calorie snack packs) in an effort to control calories. She’s also not at all into exercise and states that in her opinion it does nothing for weight loss (this clearly goes against nearly all research and expert opinion to the contrary). It was clear to me that Bea had a portion-control problem and lack of an off switch when it came to eating. Weiss states that Bea ate no more than other kids, but I don’t think that’s entirely true. However, it also seemed quite difficult for Bea to lose the weight, and she had to stay on a modified diet plan (indefinitely?) to maintain the weight loss. If my 7-year-old daughter were on this diet for even two weeks, she would drop a lot of weight, so clearly Bea has a predisposition toward obesity as well, and isn’t it better to nip that in the bud now? But by doing so is Weiss setting Bea up for body image issues later? I don’t know what the answer is. I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have been this extreme and would have focused much more on making healthier food choices, not eating out, and being active if one of my children were overweight.(Let’s not even get into the socio-economic issues associated with obesity. Weiss is lucky that she had the money and time to seek out a doctor who specialized in the nutritional needs of overweight children, shop for fresh fruit and veggies, and endlessly monitor her daughter’s eating habits at school, camp, and home – few parents have that luxury.) All in all, this was an interesting book if for no other reason than that it begs the question: What would YOU do?

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

    I picked up this book almost with a sense of schadenfreude - I had read the Vogue article in which the author outlined the steps she had taken to address her daughter's weight issues and had been aware of the internet kerfluffle that followed. I assumed the author would come across as a shallow, controlling parent and that her daughter would inevitably develop an eating disorder as a result of her mother's misguided actions. As it turned out, after having read her memoir, the author came across a I picked up this book almost with a sense of schadenfreude - I had read the Vogue article in which the author outlined the steps she had taken to address her daughter's weight issues and had been aware of the internet kerfluffle that followed. I assumed the author would come across as a shallow, controlling parent and that her daughter would inevitably develop an eating disorder as a result of her mother's misguided actions. As it turned out, after having read her memoir, the author came across as a concerned parent, working to keep daughter from the psyche- and health-damaging effects of obesity. I wasn't necessarily convinced that she had taken the right steps or that her efforts wouldn't ultimately lead to food issues for her daughter, but I was convinced that like most parents, Weiss was flying blind and trying to do the best she could without a lot of guidance or help in determining the best course for her daughter. It remains to be seen how 'Bea' will ultimately feel about her mom's efforts on her behalf, how the inevitable publicity associated with the memoir will affect her, and what her relationship with food will ultimately be, but I think that something like that is true of most people's parenting efforts. As parents, we do the best we can with what we know and the resources that are available to us and hope for the best. This was definitely a memoir worth reading - both for its illumination of the insecurities of modern parenthood and for its exploration of our complex relationship with food in a society where its very overabundance has become problematic.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)

    3.5 Stars This was a fascinating memoir that will certainly generate controversy among readers. I think the mother did a good job of explaining her reasoning so that I believe that she felt she was acting in the best interest of her child and I really do not want to personally judge her. I personally feel like the approach was flawed from a nutrition perspective with an over emphasis on calories, restrictions and low-fat/low-protein food choices. I appreciate the author willing to put her story o 3.5 Stars This was a fascinating memoir that will certainly generate controversy among readers. I think the mother did a good job of explaining her reasoning so that I believe that she felt she was acting in the best interest of her child and I really do not want to personally judge her. I personally feel like the approach was flawed from a nutrition perspective with an over emphasis on calories, restrictions and low-fat/low-protein food choices. I appreciate the author willing to put her story out there for other parents of overweight and obese children.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda Nelson

    I hated this book. No, I abhorred this book. I would be shocked if this young girl doesn't grow up with a completely dysfunctional relationship with food and weight. Here are my main issues: -the daughter was 7 -the mom put her on a severely restrictive diet. -her meals had to be 350 calories or less -her mom cared little for nutritional value and opted for anything low-cal -exercise was downplayed. According to the mom exercise had no purpose and didn't serve the end goal of losing weight -she fixat I hated this book. No, I abhorred this book. I would be shocked if this young girl doesn't grow up with a completely dysfunctional relationship with food and weight. Here are my main issues: -the daughter was 7 -the mom put her on a severely restrictive diet. -her meals had to be 350 calories or less -her mom cared little for nutritional value and opted for anything low-cal -exercise was downplayed. According to the mom exercise had no purpose and didn't serve the end goal of losing weight -she fixated on a number for her daughter's weight -she obsessed over bmi -she put her daughter in awkward positions while in social situations -she had her daughter weigh-in weekly. Undressed after she pees. Losses were celebrated. Gains were...not -processed foods chosen over those in their natural state -it clearly affected their family -it was an absolute obsession -her mother had a history of disordered eating I know much of this was caused by a lack of education. I think she meant well but it was really hard to read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christine Frank

    I don't know why this woman deserves such universal disapproval and abuse. In Dara-Lynn Weiss's "The Heavy," she delicately sidesteps any prescribing or advice, merely recounting her family's (mostly her) struggle to introduce better eating habits to her family and help her clinically obese 7-8 year old daughter lose weight. The prevalence of school celebrations and social occasions in her life is daunting--but it is something we all face in one way or another, either with a fast-food or ordering I don't know why this woman deserves such universal disapproval and abuse. In Dara-Lynn Weiss's "The Heavy," she delicately sidesteps any prescribing or advice, merely recounting her family's (mostly her) struggle to introduce better eating habits to her family and help her clinically obese 7-8 year old daughter lose weight. The prevalence of school celebrations and social occasions in her life is daunting--but it is something we all face in one way or another, either with a fast-food or ordering-out lifestyle or our own bad habits. (I was never so glad not to be on the recent cupcake bandwagon!) Losing weight is best done in isolation. This was not possible for her family. School lunches are another issue the Weiss family had to face, and is a major nutritional crisis, not to mention the adulterated, chemicalized food products we are offered. All important, topical issues, covered in a highly personal, fairly light tone. Partly memoir, partly social criticism, partly a mother-daughter tale, and I imagine in part a defense after her bad press after her Vogue article, "The Heavy" deserves a place along with other works in the bad food/female image genres. She gave her daughter a huge gift, in turn making herself "the heavy." Which, when considered, is a typical position for a [good] mother to assume. The mommy bloggers who have rabidly turned on her are probably all struggling with their weights, so again, I really don't get the mob mentality. This book is a very fast read, and recommended.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Monique Fischle

    I was a bit apprehensive to read this book. I didn’t know how I felt about a mother who puts her seven-year-old on a diet, but similarly, I don’t know how I feel about a mother who “allows” (and I say this loosely) their seven-year-old to become obese. But you know the saying, until you’ve walked a mile (or more locally, kilometre) in someone else’s shoes, you can’t really judge. After reading Dara-Lynn Weiss’ memoir The Heavy, I couldn’t agree more. From the media release (shortened): In April 20 I was a bit apprehensive to read this book. I didn’t know how I felt about a mother who puts her seven-year-old on a diet, but similarly, I don’t know how I feel about a mother who “allows” (and I say this loosely) their seven-year-old to become obese. But you know the saying, until you’ve walked a mile (or more locally, kilometre) in someone else’s shoes, you can’t really judge. After reading Dara-Lynn Weiss’ memoir The Heavy, I couldn’t agree more. From the media release (shortened): In April 2012, Dara-Lynn Weiss wrote an essay for Vogue magazine chronicling her decision to put her then seven-year-old daughter, Bea, on a diet after her doctor diagnosed her as obese. It was a controversial move, and while Dara knew not everyone would agree with what she did, she was certainly not prepared for the reaction she received. She was vilified in the media, called “selfish” and “the worst mother in the world”. Almost everyone wondered if she had gone too far. … Now, in The Heavy, Dara shares the full story – (the good, the bad, and the ugly) – of the journey she and her family undertook in order to get Be a healthy. Children with a body mass index for age in the 95th percentile or above are considered obese, and Bea was in the 98th percentile … Her child was unhealthy, and it was up to Dara to change that. I did a quick Google search after I finished reading (I always like to see if they have a website or blog) and Dara really wasn’t exaggerating – the Internet is seriously filled with all of these incredibly hurtful things being said about her where they only just fall short of calling her a child abuser. I cringed when reading them and had to stop. Especially when people say she “shamed” Bea into losing weight. I read the book and I can tell you now, there was no shaming. In fact, Dara made sure that the whole family changed their eating habits (based on doctors and nutritionists orders) so that Bea didn’t feel singled out. Naturally, the people who believe Dara shamed Bea won’t read the book or won’t believe my review but I’m being honest. The double standard irritates me. If there are overweight or obese children seen eating fast-food again, the cry of “those parents are abusing their child by allowing them to eat that junk” is heard loud and clear. Dara, with the help of doctors, has identified the issue and is controlling the number of calories her daughter eats for the sake of her health and she’s been called the worst mother in the world. I don’t understand, it’s very damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I read comments on some posts about it and saw many people say it’s cruel for a child to be at a birthday party and not be able to eat what the other children are eating. If you read the book, you’d see that Bea was allowed to eat cake, but only one piece and only if she didn’t have all the other snacks as well. Some may consider this too harsh as well, but until you’re in that situation, you can’t really judge. And no, testing showed there was no thyroid problem. When I lost a bunch of weight at the beginning of last year, I made no changes to my exercise regime (aka the one that didn’t exist). I was sad and as a result, my appetite lessened. Then over time, my portion sizes grew smaller as I wasn’t hungry for much. Through this, and this alone, I lost eight kilos in the space of a few months. So I understand, completely, why Dara put Bea on a calorie controlled “diet”. Because it works (in most cases). She also encouraged her to do gymnastics and karate, while they regularly walked everywhere. This wasn’t a child who sat inside all day and did nothing. After reading this book, I truly believe that Dara acted with Bea’s best interests at heart. You may not have acted this way, but it doesn’t mean that Dara was wrong because she did. The Heavy is an honest account of a mother’s struggle with this impossible situation. She was very careful, and would often worry, as she didn’t want Bea to develop body image issues from this. She was careful not to use the word “fat” or make it sound like it was Bea’s fault. She didn’t want her to feel singled out and she definitely didn’t want Bea to diet until she was “thin”, just until she was in a “healthy” BMI range. I appreciated Dara’s honest about the struggles and how even with a seven year old (and I say this because it’s supposedly much easier to change habits at such a young age), it was still difficult to change Bea’s eating habits. She was honest about how hard it was to explain to other parents what she was trying to do and to get them to stop with the “but she’s only a kid” and “a little more won’t hurt”. What I didn’t like was how she compared having an obese child with having a child with a severe food allergy. Or liken her position as the parent of an obese child as an authority on such matters in the same way that a lesbian can speak about gay marriage. I see where she was coming from what it just didn’t sit right with me. Overall, this was a fascinating read. It is likely to put some noses out of joint and I think Dara is very brave to write this. Don’t read it if you’re wanting tips on effective weight loss and management, but as a memoir, I rather enjoyed it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    This book made me feel sympathetic and then furious toward Bea's mother. I was that child. I was always overweight and constantly engaged in diet talk. I lost weight, kept it off for a little while, and gained it back again and again. Anyhow, this cyclic negative nature toward food really messed with my natural nutritional responses. I was one of those who developed an eating disorder as I became older and I would not wish it upon anyone. What makes me feel sad and sympathetic toward Bea's mom i This book made me feel sympathetic and then furious toward Bea's mother. I was that child. I was always overweight and constantly engaged in diet talk. I lost weight, kept it off for a little while, and gained it back again and again. Anyhow, this cyclic negative nature toward food really messed with my natural nutritional responses. I was one of those who developed an eating disorder as I became older and I would not wish it upon anyone. What makes me feel sad and sympathetic toward Bea's mom is her lack of education about health. As a personal trainer, reading about her saying that exercise was not important made me so angry. Of course exercise is important! Do you know how many people come to me with muscular and postural imbalances that cause them pain and make them more susceptible to injury? If that is not important, I don't know what is. Just because her daughter was overweight does not mean that she was an unhealthy child (or a child with a disease, as she kept calling it). Even a few pounds away from her goal weight, Bea was seen as unhealthy. When she finally reached that specific number, she finally saw her daughter as a healthy little girl. It breaks my heart that she is being taught all of these restrictions at such a young age. What makes me even more sad is that the mother she is learning all this from most definitely had issues with weight and food herself. I think we all need to really think about what health really is. It is not a specific weight or a specific look, it is our overall wellbeing. Sometimes when trying to change the physical things, everything else is disrupted. This is just my opinion. All I know is that if I ever have kids one day, I will teach them to trust and love their bodies.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Claudette

    I was both horrified and amused by this book. First, take a elementary school child who has never been taught healthy eating habits. Let her eat whatever and whenever she wants. Now that the doctor tells you your child is obese,pick on her choices in public and without bothering to teach her what the healthy options should be. Don't forget to repeatedly claim you 'advocate' for your child. (News flash, you are either advocating or an advocate, you do not advocate.) Next, don't bother asking the c I was both horrified and amused by this book. First, take a elementary school child who has never been taught healthy eating habits. Let her eat whatever and whenever she wants. Now that the doctor tells you your child is obese,pick on her choices in public and without bothering to teach her what the healthy options should be. Don't forget to repeatedly claim you 'advocate' for your child. (News flash, you are either advocating or an advocate, you do not advocate.) Next, don't bother asking the counter person at the coffee shop if there is whipped cream in the cocoa, but do presume he will know your daughter can't have it and ask your permission. News flash, it's his job to put whipped cream in the cocoa, everyone does. I have food allergies, but I would never get indignant if someone put an allergen in the food I ordered because that's the way it comes instead of asking me for permission to do his job. I am aghast at skinny moms bashing their children for being obese or overweight when it was your parenting that made them that way to begin with. Especially if you believe whole-heartedly in the fallacy that the only way to be fat is to eat too much. Some of us were born fat babies, and yet we are denigrated for overeating when it was our genes that were at fault. Don't presume you know about the causes of obesity, especially if you have no medical degree. And lastly, the word you are looking for is healthy, not healthful. It's a really good word, healthy, not a nonsensical meaningless word like healthful. Try it sometime. Healthy.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Dara-Lynn Weiss, the mother of a formerly obese 7-year-old, became the subject of a bit of media firestorm when she Vogue magazine published her first-person piece about her daughter's weight-loss efforts. This book offers more details, and I found both the mother and daughter to be very sympathetic figures. Although I don't have obese children, I understand the struggle, and I cannot imagine how hard it would be to help a child that young lose weight. I think what got Weiss the most hostility w Dara-Lynn Weiss, the mother of a formerly obese 7-year-old, became the subject of a bit of media firestorm when she Vogue magazine published her first-person piece about her daughter's weight-loss efforts. This book offers more details, and I found both the mother and daughter to be very sympathetic figures. Although I don't have obese children, I understand the struggle, and I cannot imagine how hard it would be to help a child that young lose weight. I think what got Weiss the most hostility was her frank discussion of how much confusion and debate there is over what constitutes healthy eating, as well as her confessions of her own less-than-perfect parenting moments. It's easy (and common) for people to point fingers knowing very little of other people's story. This book seems to be her way of explaining herself further, and it is readable and interesting. Weiss faced something that not all that many people do, so I find it quite appalling how much hostility she received.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    It was interesting to read of a mother’s determination to get her 7 year old daughter back into the healthy weight range and the tactics she used. I’m not sure that I agree with all of them, and as she mentioned at some point in the book, I wonder about the daughter’s ongoing relationship with food and her risk of an eating disorder down the track. However, it seems like the mother was generally matter-of-fact in the approach she took and her daughter seemed to be quite mature about it all and t It was interesting to read of a mother’s determination to get her 7 year old daughter back into the healthy weight range and the tactics she used. I’m not sure that I agree with all of them, and as she mentioned at some point in the book, I wonder about the daughter’s ongoing relationship with food and her risk of an eating disorder down the track. However, it seems like the mother was generally matter-of-fact in the approach she took and her daughter seemed to be quite mature about it all and to be quite philosophical about her body and how the food she eats can affect her, so hopefully it was a good learning experience that she can take with her into adolescence and adulthood.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    I feel I should start this review with a bit about myself. I was an overweight child and I was on a diet for my entire childhood--the kind of diet where everything was policed and I was never allowed to forget the fact that I was not like other children, something I know was very damaging. I still struggle as an adult and am working to change my focus from a "diet" to a healthy lifestyle. I am also the mother of two children and, recently, the weight of one of my children became the concern of o I feel I should start this review with a bit about myself. I was an overweight child and I was on a diet for my entire childhood--the kind of diet where everything was policed and I was never allowed to forget the fact that I was not like other children, something I know was very damaging. I still struggle as an adult and am working to change my focus from a "diet" to a healthy lifestyle. I am also the mother of two children and, recently, the weight of one of my children became the concern of our doctor. In 6 months, we corrected the problem with minimal stress for our child and are currently maintaining our success. I say this because I know very well what this book is about, both from the point of the child and the parent. I do have strong opinions of what I heard on this book, and thanks to my own experiences, believe that my opinions are fair and well-grounded. I also need to admit that I am a bit biased. So, onto the book. I wasn't sure what to expect of this. There were items in the synopsis that intrigued me--mostly the mentions that Weiss had to struggle against society to maintain her daughter's eating plan. I get that--I don't like my children to eat a lot of sugar or junk food and I do have to fight that battle in a world where kids are given treats at every turn. And, frankly, I was just interested about how Weiss handled this with her daughter. The epidemic of childhood obesity should not be minimized and is an important topic for all to consider. So, onto the book. It begins a bit with Weiss talking about her own weight history (a little disordered, but not uncommonly so). Then she talks about her daughter. Jumping ahead a little bit, Weiss later pats herself on the back for addressing her daughter's problem early. However, in the opening chapters of the book, she mentions that, at 3, her daughter's preschool teachers had brought her daughter's eating habits to her attention. Weiss also mentions that others had made comments from that point on about her daughter's increasing weight. Yet, Weiss doesn't start to actually do anything until her daughter is 7--over half her life later! Weiss deserves no kudos for "acting early" when she was 4 years (more than half her daughter's life) late to the game. Weiss chalks her daughter's weight gain up to a large appetite, not bad food choices or inactivity. I can buy that her daughter was eating healthy food, but at inappropriately large portions. However, I question Weiss claims that her daughter was not inactive. Never once did Weiss mention how much television her children watched. Yes, it could be that her kids didn't watch much television--but, later, she makes a mention of a scene where she is in bed with her kids and everyone has their own laptops (the kids are, I think 7 and 8 at this time) and the kids are updating their Twitter accounts! Obviously, technology is a big factor in their home--I'm sure that TV was a big part of it but, even if it was not, computers obviously were). When we dealt with this issue with our own child, the very first recommendation had nothing to do with food--it was to limit screen time. Once Weiss decides to start working to get her daughter's weight under control, she flounders for a while as she tries to do it on her own, which is understandable and I think any parent in her position would have done the same thing. Ultimately, she opts for the entire family to go to a nutritionist. The nutritionist's program, as Weiss describes it, sounded rather complicated to me and I cringed at the importance on fat-free foods. However, it was only in the last couple of years that the acceptance of the importance of healthy fats was widespread, so I chalked it up to it being a different time. Then, Weiss decides to drop the nutritionist and I was never really clear why. All I could figure out is that she didn't like the "3rd string" nutritionist who didn't acknowledge that her daughter's jeans weighed more than her leggings. And, it is from that point that things became horrifying. Weiss is a drill-master with her daughter--she insists on naked weigh-ins on Saturdays and is very focused on the numbers (when dealing with children, the number on the scale is problematic as children are growing in height as they are losing weight. Instead doctors and health professionals work with BMI's.). When it comes to food, Weiss is heavy handed in controlling everything that goes near her daughter's mouth. And she does this publicly--at birthday parties, at friends' houses, at restaurants, at the corner Starbucks. When her daughter has a school lunch, or if there is a school event where food is available, she interrogates her daughter the moment she sees her. When her daughter goes someplace without her, be it an afternoon with a friend or a month visiting her grandmother, Weiss sends along caloric guidelines for what her daughter is allowed to eat. Through all this, Weiss moans about how long they will have to keep doing this and when will the diet be over. Right there, she has set her daughter--and herself--up for failure. I am convinced that the way to combat childhood obesity is to get kids moving and to teach them how to eat in a healthy manner--nutritious foods and appropriate portions--so that they can continue that through their lifetime. Yet, Weiss really didn't do any of that. Yes, she signed her daughter up for gymnastics and karate, but she even said she didn't think activity was as important. Instead, she taught her daughter how to be neurotic about food and her body. Weiss's daughter eventually hits her goal weight, after almost exactly a year. Weiss then devotes a couple of chapters to the fallout she experienced after she published an article in Vogue about this experience. To cut several chapters short, Weiss believed that nothing she did was damaging and only good parents would have done what she did and anyone who questions her as she has presented herself is cruel and unfair. She then talks about when her daughter, now at a healthy weight, went off to camp. Weiss contacts the camp to get their menu to decide what her daughter can eat and asks that her daughter be weighed weekly and that information be emailed to Weiss. I don't think I'm the only one who considers this way past extreme. Weiss says that she sometimes worries that her daughter will develop an eating disorder, but then says that probably won't happen because she read an article that said that there is a strong genetic component to it. As far as I can tell from interviews with Weiss around the publication of this book, her daughter is probably about 11 now. So, she's right at the beginning of puberty. To Weiss, I direct the old adage "you reap what you sow," because Weiss planted the seeds of at least disordered eating, if not a full-blown eating disorder, in her daughter and then watered and fertilized those seeds. She has taught her daughter that food is something dangerous, that calories are more important than nutrients, and that there is intrinsic guilt in eating. And those are lessons that her daughter will carry with her for her entire life. There is no question that Weiss loves her daughter and I'm not going to say that she's a bad mother. I will say, though, that I believe that she projected her own issues onto her daughter, which caused her to make decisions that were not in her daughter's best interests. I really can't recommend this book to others, unless they are looking for something on how NOT to help a child with a weight problem.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Disclaimer: I'm not a parent. Disclaimer the second: I know women like the author. The NYC mom who either doesn't work or whose job allows them to devote an unhealthy amount of time to obsess over her children. Ones who think 5'4" 115 pounds is overweight. I don't doubt she truly believes that, as the women in her circle are the reason the XXS and the 00 sizes were invented. There was no way this woman was going to live with having a chubby daughter, because although it's very possible the child Disclaimer: I'm not a parent. Disclaimer the second: I know women like the author. The NYC mom who either doesn't work or whose job allows them to devote an unhealthy amount of time to obsess over her children. Ones who think 5'4" 115 pounds is overweight. I don't doubt she truly believes that, as the women in her circle are the reason the XXS and the 00 sizes were invented. There was no way this woman was going to live with having a chubby daughter, because although it's very possible the child would have naturally slimmed as she grew taller, this mom was not going to wait until the child turned 8 or 9 to find out. The laughable part (in the saddest possible way) is that the mother knows this diet adventure was probably going to scar the kid for life and that she was passing her body dysmorphia and serious issues with food down to her - it's almost like she couldn't help herself. I feel lucky to have had a mother who did nothing but praise my appearance no matter what I looked like. If your mom doesn't show you unconditional love, you're pretty much screwed. I'm sure the child's future therapist will profit greatly.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Kane

    I don't know why I read this - I saw a review and as I have been a person with massive eating disorders my entire life and have had to come to terms with me own shape and size slowly, I first found reading this book made me extremely anxious. The tone of the writer feels anxious and highstrung and it bleeds out from the page. Her fears a very real; obesity is a disease and being overweight or plainly fat can destroy chances to be happy in life - socially, self-esteem-wise, etc. Then I just began I don't know why I read this - I saw a review and as I have been a person with massive eating disorders my entire life and have had to come to terms with me own shape and size slowly, I first found reading this book made me extremely anxious. The tone of the writer feels anxious and highstrung and it bleeds out from the page. Her fears a very real; obesity is a disease and being overweight or plainly fat can destroy chances to be happy in life - socially, self-esteem-wise, etc. Then I just began to find it boring. And depressing. Maybe because I have been there as a kid with parents wanting me to be thin and perfect and acceptable, and it brought up a lot of old shit. And I began to worry about the little girl who is the subject of the story, how anxious she may end up being about food and eating in her life. But I should think that for parents of overweight children, it could be helpful hearing from a peer about how she went about helping her daughter learn to eat healthfully.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I picked this book up out of curiosity because I was an overweight child and do not feel like my mom handled our situation well at all. However, neither did this mother. Her obsession with the scale and appearances were beyond normal behavior. I do appreciate that both my mom and the author were coming from a place of love in a very difficult situation, but this book was really aggravating as she disregarded so many common sense healthy eating principles just to get to a number on a scale. Furth I picked this book up out of curiosity because I was an overweight child and do not feel like my mom handled our situation well at all. However, neither did this mother. Her obsession with the scale and appearances were beyond normal behavior. I do appreciate that both my mom and the author were coming from a place of love in a very difficult situation, but this book was really aggravating as she disregarded so many common sense healthy eating principles just to get to a number on a scale. Furthermore, I read a lot of biographies/memoirs and usually I find them fascinating, but an occasional failing of the genre is a tendency for self-indulgent writing, and this book is full of it. Reading it was like being stuck with the Mom at book group who will not stop talking about herself and her kids long enough to let any other intelligent conversation take place. I would skip this one.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Read my full review here: http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wor... Is there a more sensitive topic than telling a parent that their child is fat? When a doctor pronounced Dara-Lynn Weiss�’s daughter, Bea, obese at the age of seven, the mother of two knew she had to take action. She chronicles the battle in The Heavy. Before I share my thoughts on the book, hit Google with the search term ‘vogue dara-lyn weiss’. Weiss published an article in Vogue in March, 2012 – basically the precursor to The Hea Read my full review here: http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wor... Is there a more sensitive topic than telling a parent that their child is fat? When a doctor pronounced Dara-Lynn Weiss�’s daughter, Bea, obese at the age of seven, the mother of two knew she had to take action. She chronicles the battle in The Heavy. Before I share my thoughts on the book, hit Google with the search term ‘vogue dara-lyn weiss’. Weiss published an article in Vogue in March, 2012 – basically the precursor to The Heavy. Let’s just say the search results aren’t pretty. In fact Weiss is caned. So, is The Heavy a chance to tell the real, unedited story? Yes, to a certain extent although you can’t help feeling that the damage is already done in magazine, newspaper and blog posts about the ‘diet’ Weiss put Bea on. First up, I should say that the book is well-written, albeit a little repetitive in parts. Weiss thankfully avoids an overkill of ‘science’ to support her arguments and instead sticks very much to a memoir format (a wise move). So, let me get down to tin-tacks. I felt lots of things reading The Heavy – astonished, sympathetic, angry, incredulous but mostly sad. Very sad. Because while Weiss believes she has given her daughter the tools for achieving and maintaining a healthy body, she’s also handed her a lifetime of emotional issues in relation to food and body image. “Obesity is an excruciatingly obvious disease. Having fought her way to a healthy weight, I’m not sure what these critics believed Bea should feel embarrassed about.” Therein lies my concerns for Bea. She is eight-years-old and has a lifetime of weight gain and loss ahead of her. Had Weiss kept Bea’s battle private, then any gain or loss of weight in the future would not be scrutinized in the way it will be now. And Bea has it all chronicled in a book, for the whole world to see. She can read it over and over. She’ll probably be the subject of a trashy magazine expose “How fat are they now?”. “‘Even if I fit in and I’m not fatter than the rest of the kids, that’s who I was: the fat girl,’ Bea told me tearily. ‘And that’s who I’m always going to be. Even if I change, I’m always going to be known as that person.’” Yes, I agree with you Bea. Let me just touch on Weiss’s own issues with food which are an important part of this story. Weiss could be classed as someone with an eating disorder – she sets the scene with descriptions of her lifetime of dieting and makes mention of diet pills and throwing up after meals. “At my most desperate moment, I took an emetic in order to make myself throw up after a slightly out-of-control eating session.” Hello! This is not normal. This is an eating disorder. Now put someone with an eating disorder in charge of an overweight child. “I felt a kind of adrenaline-fueled exhilaration. This was familiar territory for me: the first few days of a new diet, full of hope and anticipation, where the food shopping felt fun, and even words such as tablespoon in the recipes for the new diet foods sounded tasty. Best of all, I wasn’t doing it on my own – I had teammates!” I was prepared to give Weiss the benefit of the doubt regarding her claim that she made her family ‘healthful’ meals (despite the numerous references to cupcakes, pizza lunches and that it was easier to eat out (burgers and fries) than cook at home) – that was until I read the bit about the apples - “I learned, for the first time in my life, what kinds of apples I liked and didn’t like. I’d eaten them infrequently and certainly never bought them, so it was interesting to learn that they offered so much variation.” Seriously? She’s a forty-something year old woman (who has dieted for three decades) with two kids and she’s never bought apples? Here’s the tip – her pantry is not full of “healthful” foods, it’s full of all that processed shit – pureed apple in pouches and ‘fruit’ roll-ups. Okay, that was all a bit judgmental… 3/5 Ultimately, I predict an unhappy ending. My copy of The Heavy was supplied courtesy of Random House Australia via NetGalley.

  17. 4 out of 5

    marissa sammy

    Let me start by saying that when I was a kid, my family lived in the Caribbean (barely any processed foods), I was active as a monkey, but I was bigger than my younger sister and had more of a tummy than other stick-thin children. My mom -- a former beauty queen btw -- decided I was too fat and thus began a campaign of controlling my meals and delivering cutting remarks that "came from a place of love" all through my teenage years. So I'm not coming at this unbiased. That said, the narcissism of Let me start by saying that when I was a kid, my family lived in the Caribbean (barely any processed foods), I was active as a monkey, but I was bigger than my younger sister and had more of a tummy than other stick-thin children. My mom -- a former beauty queen btw -- decided I was too fat and thus began a campaign of controlling my meals and delivering cutting remarks that "came from a place of love" all through my teenage years. So I'm not coming at this unbiased. That said, the narcissism of the Mother drips off this book like it got doused with perfume at the beauty counter of Bloomie's. The memoir is very much not about Bea as a person; she's treated like a dirty little secret that needs to be schooled into a presentable form. All of the calorie- and fat-free snacks that Weiss introduces to her daughter's diet are chock-full of heavily processed goodness, and the tight eating plan with takealong lists given to others so they know what not to feed her, they're certainly not going to make Bea feel like a freak and teach her the Snackwell effect, oh no. Weiss comes off as the stereotypical NYC society mother, throwing public fits; the bit where she has a meltdown regarding the nutrition content of a Starbucks hot chocolate and grabs the cup from Bea, pouring it into the garbage as her daughter watches, is especially cringeworthy. And then taking to the cover of Vogue tells you exactly what the priority for Weiss was in this whole thing -- parlaying what she presented as her heroic ordeal to be viewed and admired by all and sundry. If she had waited a few years and introduced more healthy foods to the family's overall diet, Bea's height growth probably would have evened things out. But hey, it only took her being ordered to pee and strip naked every morning for weighing, being harangued in public over cake or cookie, being treated like an ungrateful burden for being hungry, and then being trotted out like a show pony as a demonstration of Weiss' ability to take her daughter from fatso to socially acceptible, so here we are.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Audrey

    This was a really frustrating book and hard to rate. It was engaging and well written, but the author/mom is just not that bright. I understand her motivations behind her actions in helping her daughter lose weight. But, those woman has no concept of nutrition, exercise or calories. Also, I did read the Vogue article when it came out and my first impression of the book, in chapter one, is that there is a bit of revisionist history in how she decided to portray herself. There was a ton of fallout This was a really frustrating book and hard to rate. It was engaging and well written, but the author/mom is just not that bright. I understand her motivations behind her actions in helping her daughter lose weight. But, those woman has no concept of nutrition, exercise or calories. Also, I did read the Vogue article when it came out and my first impression of the book, in chapter one, is that there is a bit of revisionist history in how she decided to portray herself. There was a ton of fallout against the author/mom and it seems she tried to give herself a better image. The problem is, despite her voicing her good intentions for her daughter's well being, I still thought that she was trying to make it about her, and her image and her portrayal. The biggest thing the author/mom lacked was knowledge of good calories v. bad calories. All calories aren't created equal. Her daughter kept saying how hungry she was and she wanted snacks. Well, if you are going to feed her food that has little nutritional value (bagels for breakfast, cheetos for a snack), of course the poor kid is going to be hungry. And the author/mom kept saying she was watching the kid's calories, yet she let the kid eat unlimited fruit (probably as much as 5 pieces a day including bananas). Fruit is mostly sugar and still has a lot of calories. It shouldn't have been surprising that the kid was only losing one pound a week since she was still eating a fair amount of "free" food, in fruit and vegetables, non-filling meals and empty calories. I also suspect that she allowed no fat in her daughter's diet where just a little fat would fill her up and satiate her appetite. Lastly, there was no mention as to how fast the kid ate. If she was scarfing down her 300 calorie meal that has pasta, protein and steamed vegetables, she's going to be hungry relatively soon after.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    While I had happened to glance at Weiss' Vogue article in passing, she was made up as a society lady. She looked older than her years, and kind of snobbish. I assumed that she didn't do all the work that went into helping her daughter, Bea. She made an excruciating decision to take the bull by the horns. With a kick start from a nutritionist, she was able to successfully teach her daughter to manage her weight, her natural tendencies to overeat, to be aware of satiety. Like many people, I wish m While I had happened to glance at Weiss' Vogue article in passing, she was made up as a society lady. She looked older than her years, and kind of snobbish. I assumed that she didn't do all the work that went into helping her daughter, Bea. She made an excruciating decision to take the bull by the horns. With a kick start from a nutritionist, she was able to successfully teach her daughter to manage her weight, her natural tendencies to overeat, to be aware of satiety. Like many people, I wish my parents had been able to communicate the importance of healthy choices when I was a tween and older, but the job came to myself as an adult. Weiss' struggles with food, and then her role as a parent, made it crystal clear that the skill set needed by many parents to help their children just isn't there. And that's the thing I really got from this book. How you'd have to be this amazing mother to be able to manage a diet for your child and have them come out knowing more about themselves and becoming self-reliant. When Weiss would ask Bea certain questions about her food choices or lifestyle, etc, Bea often had glimpses of astounding maturity beyond her years. As adults, if we have diet issues, we need to reparent ourselves because no one else is going to do it for us. As a child-free woman, I felt like this gave me some insight into how to treat myself as I continue making healthy choices and the amount of sacrifice that is required against one's genes, if a weight issue was set into motion in childhood. Recommended.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Much like substance use, diet culture expects people (mostly women) to maintain health and fitness without effort. They will be judged if they fail to do so either in the form of gaining weight or failing to make these efforts invisible and convenient for others. I've read quite a bit of judgement towards the author for restricting her daughter's eating after their pediatrician expressed concern at her weight trending into the obesity category. I imagine there would also have been negative revie Much like substance use, diet culture expects people (mostly women) to maintain health and fitness without effort. They will be judged if they fail to do so either in the form of gaining weight or failing to make these efforts invisible and convenient for others. I've read quite a bit of judgement towards the author for restricting her daughter's eating after their pediatrician expressed concern at her weight trending into the obesity category. I imagine there would also have been negative reviews if she wrote a book defending her decision not to make any intervention. As someone who has spent her whole life (including much of childhood) on various diets, this book was incredibly relatable. It was also interesting to learn the perspective of the parent of an obese child, because while my parents (and of course mostly my mother) monitored my eating, taught me to instill moral judgement on food, used it as rewards and instilled all the other diet culture baggage on food, they never had frank conversations about health or wellness with me. I imagine, much like the author contemplates, that this is due to social stigma. I could have done without some of her comparisons of being the mother of an obese child was similar with being a member of a marginalized group, but otherwise agree with her discussion of how unwinnable eating and health are for people who can't maintain thinness effortlessly. It seems like being the mother of someone in this situation is unwinnable too.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sharon

    Full disclosure - I read this book both because as the mother of two young daughters I want to do all I can to make sure they grow up to have a healthy relationship with food and love for their bodies, and because I am friends with the author’s sister. On a basic level, I related to so much in this book – wanting the absolute best for your daughter, and being so conscious of the millions of daily decisions and responses that add up to your child’s experience and outlook. I don’t agree with many Full disclosure - I read this book both because as the mother of two young daughters I want to do all I can to make sure they grow up to have a healthy relationship with food and love for their bodies, and because I am friends with the author’s sister. On a basic level, I related to so much in this book – wanting the absolute best for your daughter, and being so conscious of the millions of daily decisions and responses that add up to your child’s experience and outlook. I don’t agree with many (most?) of her decisions as they would apply to us, but above all I respect her right to parent the way that is best for her family and her child, and to do so in the face of so much perceived and real criticism and judgment. For us, Ellyn Satter’s approach to feeding and food feels much more intuitively right (the parent is responsible for what, when and where, and the child is responsible for whether and how much – that this is how you teach children to self regulate and enjoy a variety of food in a healthy way), but I didn’t have to agree with Weiss’s approach to respect her story and her telling of it. She’s honest, even when I would have been tempted to omit or modify, and since she’s not entirely unapologetic about her choices, the internal struggle and questioning is one of the most interesting and relatable pieces of the story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This book is about a lady who puts her oversized 7 year old on a diet because she is legitimately concerned that the kid will get 'betes, etc. She chronicles the food battles they had at birthday parties, vacations and restaurants, talking about her methods and how hard the whole thing was. She got a lot of heat after a Vogue article she wrote about their diet plan, which featured pictures of her and the child. Overall, this is a lot like Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, if Battle Hymn had been This book is about a lady who puts her oversized 7 year old on a diet because she is legitimately concerned that the kid will get 'betes, etc. She chronicles the food battles they had at birthday parties, vacations and restaurants, talking about her methods and how hard the whole thing was. She got a lot of heat after a Vogue article she wrote about their diet plan, which featured pictures of her and the child. Overall, this is a lot like Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, if Battle Hymn had been less funny and compelling. I listened on audio. Thoughts I had whilst listening and driving, in roughly chronological order. --Oh my god, this mother went through hell. --OK, her daughter also went through hell. --These people are eating way too much fruit. --Wow, the kid is obnoxious, always whining about being hungry. --...I can't believe I just thought that about a 7 year-old. --The author just described window shopping as exercise. What's the phone # for NY child protective services? --The kid is eating 4 apples a night. Who the hell wants to eat 4 apples? --The mother proudly recounts a dream the girl had, about an ice cream menu that included calorie info. That's not a dream, that's a nightmare.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I'm not sure why I like to read parenting memoirs so much, but I just do.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Cait

    This was an interesting read. I suspect I don't have quite the polarized feelings that other people do towards the author because I'm not a parent; I can objectively read the story of the author's struggle to help her overweight child and understand it coming from a practical place of both love and concern. I do think that Weiss probably gets herself in trouble not because of what she writes, but because of how she writes it. While I do think she is a compassionate, caring mother to her children, This was an interesting read. I suspect I don't have quite the polarized feelings that other people do towards the author because I'm not a parent; I can objectively read the story of the author's struggle to help her overweight child and understand it coming from a practical place of both love and concern. I do think that Weiss probably gets herself in trouble not because of what she writes, but because of how she writes it. While I do think she is a compassionate, caring mother to her children, I think some of her efforts at self-deprecating humor fall flat and actually reinforce the sense that she is a bit of a tyrant who may be a little too obsessed with her child's weight. Overall this was insightful for me. I didn't grow up food-obsessed or hamstrung by my weight; I had a light appetite, was active, and thanks to my genetics, slim. My husband had an experience similar to Bea's; genetic predisposition to weight gain and an inability to turn off the hunger taps mean he has struggled his whole life with body image and weight. I picked up this book as someone who sees my future self in the author; a mother whose child was dealt a slightly off-kilter deck of cards through virtue of genetics and parental lifestyle, trying as hard as she can to raise a healthy human being without giving them a complex. I don't envy Weiss, and sympathize with the backlash she has received, because ultimately while we all like to agree that childhood obesity is the new boogeyman in the closet, you're even more of a boogeyman if you even think of putting your child on a diet.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Abi

    Hmmm I’ve thought a lot about this book. I picked it up because I’ve never really thought about parenting methods for children who are overweight/obese, and how that can affect the family. I know a few Goodreads reviewers think that this is “How to Give Your Child an ED 101” but I disagree. The nutritional plan seems reasonable and long-term. The author is really quite aware of this criticism and explains her thought process well. It really does seem (from this one-sided narrative ofc) that the Hmmm I’ve thought a lot about this book. I picked it up because I’ve never really thought about parenting methods for children who are overweight/obese, and how that can affect the family. I know a few Goodreads reviewers think that this is “How to Give Your Child an ED 101” but I disagree. The nutritional plan seems reasonable and long-term. The author is really quite aware of this criticism and explains her thought process well. It really does seem (from this one-sided narrative ofc) that the author aims for long term health, not rewarding obsessive or unhealthy behaviours, and building self-esteem. The author seems to achieve putting the child in control of their health, and focusing on health over looks. Some things such as avoiding almonds/salmon + going for artificial sweeteners + weekly weigh-ins are controversial, but I get it in the context of the child’s story and goals. I also think this depends on how the child takes it, the relationship with the parent, and how these strategies are framed. As she wisely notes, when observing an isolated decision of a parent, you really don’t know what’s happening. Is the parent enabling the kid by giving artificial sweets? Are they being too strict? Is this why the kid is overweight in the first place? Often, we view these isolated decisions with our own biases and memories in mind. Anyway, the book was def food for thought and gave me a diff lens to be less judgmental when I don’t know the full story.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    I read the writer’s article I Vogue years ago. For some reason it always stuck with me. Probably because I have been overweight my whole life. This caused a constant struggle between my mom and I. I was definitely sympathetic toward the writer’s daughter and I know how she probably felt. As for the author, I appreciated her honesty. Surprisingly, as an adult, I sympathized with a lot of her struggles. I’m glad a read this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Carissa Neal

    Really good read! As a mother with a obese 8 almost 9 yr old i was hoping this would help me help my daughter which i think it will. Its nice to see i am not alone with the battle i have with my child & food. Really good read! As a mother with a obese 8 almost 9 yr old i was hoping this would help me help my daughter which i think it will. Its nice to see i am not alone with the battle i have with my child & food.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    As a person with an eating disorder that was kicked off by much less in my own childhood, holy shit. I started out sympathetic to the mom, but this book became a massive cringe. I tried to be understanding of the author the way I have been of my own mom, but by the end it was basically just a description of an eating disorder by proxy. The mom was so fixated on small short term measures that mattered only to her that she completely ignored the potential long term psychological implications of wh As a person with an eating disorder that was kicked off by much less in my own childhood, holy shit. I started out sympathetic to the mom, but this book became a massive cringe. I tried to be understanding of the author the way I have been of my own mom, but by the end it was basically just a description of an eating disorder by proxy. The mom was so fixated on small short term measures that mattered only to her that she completely ignored the potential long term psychological implications of what she was doing. I can't help but think that she should have fed her daughter 3 meals a day made of real food instead of a bunch of junky diet crap spread out throughout the day in the form of "snacks." Maybe the kid was always hungry because she never had a real meal with more than 300 calories and her diet consisted of tiny sprinklings of empty calories throughout the day? I cannot imagine this little girl will ever be okay with food. Not that she was at the beginning. But there is no way to curtail a kid that overeats without it being seen by at least some as problematic. This book does a good job highlighting how no matter what you do as a parent, someone will criticize you for it, and just how horrifically nonsensical and unhealthy the modern world of food is, with the nonstop treats and snacks doled out to kids at every turn. In some ways, the author's behaviors can be understood as a sane reaction to this insane food environment, but her focus her daughter's calorie counts and minor weight fluctuations instead of what her attitudes and habits are seems horrifically misguided. Like many things, it made me really glad I decided never to have kids. I guess she tried, but I have little doubt she did nothing but create in her daughter the exact same miserable yo-yo life that she bemoaned in the beginning of the book. I believe there's always a takeaway from horror stories and here is mine: the perpetrators of "diet culture" and the victims are one and the same. 3 stars because important concepts were highlighted and illustrated, not because I agree with what the author did.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eilene

    As a new parent, I've read most of the big-splash making parenting books that I've been aware of. The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (she was joking, people) and Bringing up Bebe (actually read that while I was in labor). And I have not felt as conflicted about any of them, as much as I did about this book. The backstory: the author wrote this after she had written a piece in Vogue about putting her 7 year old daughter on a diet. Her daughter was classified as "obese" and needed to lose almost As a new parent, I've read most of the big-splash making parenting books that I've been aware of. The Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (she was joking, people) and Bringing up Bebe (actually read that while I was in labor). And I have not felt as conflicted about any of them, as much as I did about this book. The backstory: the author wrote this after she had written a piece in Vogue about putting her 7 year old daughter on a diet. Her daughter was classified as "obese" and needed to lose almost 20 lbs to reach a heavy weight. The author swears it was not the quality of the food her daughter was eating, but rather the quantity that led her family to this situation. So, to get her daughter to a healthy weight, the author went on a fairly intense calorie restriction regimen. It seemed pretty drastic to me, as she described the food her daughter was able to eat based on the dietary analysis--100 calorie snacks, 500 calorie dinners, plus fruit, etc. Maybe that is just the nature of weight loss itself, but I found it incredibly depressing what you are allowed to eat while trying to lose weight. It seems terribly unfair. Especially if you're a little kid who wants to eat cupcakes at birthday parties. And then I started to wonder, how does growth play into all this? I can see that I would have to cut my calories significantly to reach the kind of weight loss that would be desirable, but I am not a growing child. I'm done with that--so how does this sort of intense calorie restriction affect growth? Additionally, the author seemed to discount the role exercise played in all of this. I think that was probably a mistake. She discounted exercise as a weight loss tool for reasons I've certainly considered, but it seems short-sighted. If she's trying to set her daughter up to be healthy, exercise would be a crucial part of that, I would think. To be fair, the author did not seem like a monster in this book. She seemed, above all, terribly concerned about her daughter, and her daughter's relationship to food. Yeah, there is a point where she knocks a Starbucks Hot Chocolate out of her daughter's hand, and at one point, she seems to overreact to two additional pizza slices, but I have to feel for her. She's fighting her daughter for her daughter's sake, trying to help her make good choices where her biggest enemy seems to be herself. To be able to wage that war without totally freaking out on your kid seems pretty impressive. It was interesting, and I hope the little girl isn't scarred for life. I do think it was terrible judgment to write about it in Vogue, of all places--talk about the home for eating disorders. I mean, did she really think that was going to turn out well? But, I get it. It was a long road, and her daughter seems to have conquered something big. A celebratory magazine shoot makes sense, in a twisted sort of way. My big takeaway was twofold: the first, trying to lose weight, whatever your age, sucks. It requires an intense amount of discipline and a serious letting go of so many good things. I know that you can still indulge, but on such a limited basis that mourning seems completely realistic. Also, I just pray my kids don't gain that much weight. I'll do what I have to do if that happens, but I'm going to do my best to make sure we never get there. That road just looks too hard, and I know no one is going to offer me a Vogue shoot.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    At the insistence of her pediatrician, Dara-Lynn Weiss gave in and put her 7-year-old obese daughter, Bea, (who was almost 100 pounds at the time) on a diet. It was a diet sanctioned by a nutritionist and Dara-Lynn tried to do everything she was told, but the book is about her struggles, second-guessing herself, asking whether she was destroying her daughter's self-image, wondering whether it was better to just hope her daughter grew out of this "phase" or to let her remain obese and probably be At the insistence of her pediatrician, Dara-Lynn Weiss gave in and put her 7-year-old obese daughter, Bea, (who was almost 100 pounds at the time) on a diet. It was a diet sanctioned by a nutritionist and Dara-Lynn tried to do everything she was told, but the book is about her struggles, second-guessing herself, asking whether she was destroying her daughter's self-image, wondering whether it was better to just hope her daughter grew out of this "phase" or to let her remain obese and probably become an obese adult. I found the book interesting, especially with all the hype about childhood obesity these days. In talking about both food issues and parenting issues, Dara-Lynn managed to incite the wrath of two of the especially vocal sanctimonious sets: the food Nazis and the perfect parents. Just scanning through the book reviews I could get a taste of what Dara-Lynn dealt with as she refused to let Bea have an ice cream cone or a piece of birthday cake. Dara-Lynn assumes a defensive attitude through the whole book; every single decision is backed up with about a thousand explanations (many of which are repetitious) but I imagine she had to state and overstate her case so many times that the book was fairly true to life. Dara-Lynn says repeatedly that she's not a nutritionist and that she was doing the best she could, and I understand that. She explains her reasons for letting Bea have a diet soda instead of organic orange juice, or why they would choose McDonalds over the healthier restaurant options. Oddly enough, what she said seemed to make sense, at least from the perspective of limiting calories. It may not have been the choice I would have made (I probably would have avoided Starbucks altogether, for example) but she was doing the best thing she knew how to do for her kid. However, there were a few times that I was stunned at the lack of nutrition information Dara-Lynn seemed to have. By extension, I think perhaps I'm overestimating how much the average American knows about how their bodies work. When she was talking about exercise, Dara-Lynn mentioned that she (herself, not Bea) collapsed on a treadmill after having eaten only a salad all day. And she went on to vilify the exercise instead of the diet. I'm assuming she's about the same age I am if she has a 7-year-old daughter, so I'm assuming she's been exposed to the same TV shows and school nutrition information I had. And I can't figure out how she wouldn't have known that some carbohydrates are necessary if one wants to do aerobic exercise. I'm by no means educated in nutrition, but something like that seems fairly basic. And there were other examples, like when she didn't know that apples came in different varieties. All in all I thought the book was interesting but short and not life-changing. I admit I skipped the last part after she wrote the initial article for Vogue ("Look how famous I am now!") because it didn't seem like part of the story. Best wishes to Bea--I hope she keeps the weight off.

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