Playing Diet Police

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Playing Diet Police
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 10:11am
Okay, I said I try not to play diet police, but would you say something about this? My husband's niece is 14 and plays intense tennis every day for 4 hours. She has a tendency to gain weight though she's fine now. However, she doesn't eat anything at all until after tennis is over--at 5pm. She played her clinic yesterday, followed by a tournament and didn't eat until late yesterday. I did mention that you need fuel for exercise and you do better if you eat. Her mother doesn't see this as a problem. I don't think this is an eating disorder, but it's an unhealthy lifestyle and I worry about the future and the being thin at all cost. Should I butt out?

Avatar for shesminetoo
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 10:24am
I would try to talk to her once more. Maybe provide her with some written information about how important it is. Myself, I have caught myself in the past at 3pm starving. When I thought about it I hadn't eaten one thing all day long. When I don't have my daughter home with me to say "I'm hungry" I sometimes forget. NOT a good thing at all. I don't know how she is making it through practice/games without eating. After a workout I am starving and I eat regularly! Again, I would try once more and then butt out. GL that is a tough situation. ~N


Mom to 3yr old *E* and stepmom to 10 yr old *M*

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-01-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 10:38am
I have a 14-year-old niece also and I know how sensitive they can be when it comes to their bodies, food, and appearance. If it were me, I'd leave it to the parents. If I was around my niece during a time when she hadn't eaten, I would offer her a little snack that I would "coincidently" have in my purse. I wouldn't push the issue unless I suspected an eating disorder.

I'm in a similar situation with my 14-year-old niece. She's not very active, weighs 176 pounds, and suffers from asthma. She doesn't eat breakfast. She only eats an order of french fries for lunch. And then comes home from school and eats everything she can put her hands on because she's starving. I'm not her parent so, there's not a whole lot that I can do. I suggested that she ask her mother to help her prepare her own lunch each day, but her mother isn't exactly the picture of health either. The only thing I can do is be a positive role model for her, and that's really the only thing you can be for your niece.

The parents are the ones who have to ensure that their child is eating properly. Now, like I said, you suspect an eating disorder, then it is your obligation to step in. Most kids will eat when they get hungry enough. I wouldn't worry too much at this point. I know it's hard to watch people tax their bodies that way, but what more can you do?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 11:21am
Thanks for both of your advice. I have to admit, I did that in hs, too, which is one reason I'm concerned. I would not eat until after volleyball practice and no one noticed. I think that's one reason my metabolism is so slow now. All that feasting/fasting. My SIL is one of those who does believe in being thin at all costs so she encourages her weight loss that way. Ugh, I'm buying a lot of healthy food right now at my MILs and she'll have that. Today, it was ww pasta w/ spaghetti sauce (all natural, low sodium), yesterday it was a smoothie. I'm thinking long term and don't want her to end up with my super slow metabolism, but you're right that she's not my child.

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-25-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 12:10pm
I think that is a difficult situation. I agree with Millcreek though; she's not your child, so you can't really do much except be a positive role model. Perhaps if you casually suggested to her mom that if she eats a small meal about an hour prior to her tennis, it would give her more energy? It's like you should eat a small meal prior to workout to fuel your muscles.

I played tennis in HS and ate like crap too; I play recreationally now, and since my diet did a 180 I find I have much more energy and stamina. Plus I look better in those short skirts, but that's not why I began eating healthfully :)

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 1:26pm
I don't envy your position. I'm afraid that everyone here is much nicer than me. I have had problems with food my entire life because I had stupid parents who didn't step in and help me when I was that age (and younger). I resent the people who saw it happening and didn't speak up (family friends/neighbors/family members living outside the home). Because of that, I'd say something. I'd be as tactful as possible, without condeming anyone, and with as much data as is available to back up my concerns. Your sister's relationship with food sounds like it isn't especially healthy, she needs to realize that her issues should not destroy her daughter's chances at a healthy life. This is one of those issues that I couldn't take a back seat on. Nobody out there starts our with an eating disorder, they begin by making unhealthy decisions that snowball when they aren't addressed into full blown problems. Just because the majority of us "snap out of it" and learn to be healthy doesn't excuse the fact that a small percentage don't, do you want to chance your niece being one of that number in the future?



Co-author of:  MONSTER'S INK HORROR ANTHOLOGY By Cyber-Pulp Press

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 07-10-2003 - 2:32pm
Totally different approach on my part...not having read the responses, I might shouldn't say that.

But, I'd show her easily understood and concise medical/nutritional/sports articles that explain how fat is burned as a fuel during exercise, how she's got to eat in order keep her metabolism burning at a high level, and how she needs lean muscle mass to keep her metabolism high...and overall, how she can't optimally perform in tennis without eating.

Now....telling someone when/how/what....that's bound to fail. But explaining to them how the body stores fat, how you change your metabolism, that the "scale weight" isn't relevant compared to the stored fat/muscle mass % ratio's...with intelligent people it'll all sink in, although not necessarily all at once.

If you're close to her...find out if she's playing tennis because "it's something to do that she has access to so that she can control her weight" - or is she playing tennis becuase she likes the sport, the interaction with her friends, and has competitive drive.

Which is it would determine which tactic I'd use to approach how to tell her about "fueling her body for optimal performance" vs. "fueling her body for optimal metabolic burn/muscle mass building/stored fat reduction".