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Mom asks if she is wrong to enforce 'healthy eating' on ALL of her kids. AITA?

Mom asks if she is wrong to enforce 'healthy eating' on ALL of her kids. AITA?


"AITA for forcing my family to eat healthy?"


I (44F) have 3 kids: 16M (James), 15F (Liana), and 12F (Sarah). James is 5’9 and about 160 pounds, which is perfectly healthy. Liana is 5’5 and at 149 pounds, which seems pretty normal, and I’m not concerned because she and James are both very active.

However, Sarah is only 5’2 and weighs about 155, and she refuses to participate in sports and such because it makes her feel self conscious. To try and counter this, I’ve taken to making much healthier, lighter meals, taking away soda and unhealthy snacks (like potato chips and snack cakes), and taking family walks after dinner.

One incident being: This week, Liana had 6 1/2 hours of dance practice a day (it’s a special prep camp) and became upset because I packed her a lunch instead of allowing her to go out to eat during her lunch break. I packed her a salad and a few turkey wraps most days, along with a few sides like hard boiled eggs.

I gave her enough food to have energy during practice, but she became mad because the dance team at her school has a habit of all going out to eat in small groups/sometimes as one big group and basically carb loading and eating all the junk food they want during intensive weeks/days like these because “all the calories will burn off anyway”.

My husband (44M) took her side. My husband says it’s unfair to be so strict with James and Liana who are much more active than Sarah is. He told me that I shouldn’t be expecting my more active children to eat the same diet as Sarah and that I was setting unfair expectations among my eldest two children.

In addition, he told me that I shouldn’t be completely banning sweet treats from the house because James and Liana knew how to eat them in moderation. My husband told me that I was going to make James and Liana resent me for this, and I rebutted by saying that it was unfair for us to expect our obese child to diet by herself and this argument continued on. AITA for forcing my whole family to eat healthy?

Here were the top rated comments from readers in response to the OP's post:


YTA your kids are different people, they need different things. If one daughter is doing 6.5 hrs of intense workout, she will need MUCH more calories than someone who isn’t.

And as a recent teenage girl, fitting in with the group is so much more important than you realize. Also, it’s very likely that lunch is their only social time so if her friends are going out and she isn’t, she isn’t getting that connection either.

And for your 12 year old daughter, puberty changes body shape and weight drastically in ways that can be really hard to manage. While eating healthier is good, forcing a completely healthy diet and demonizing unhealthy foods is going to be detrimental to her relationship with food in the future. Same with her body image.

If she has hesitation about doing a sport, find some sort of physical activity she has an interest in and encourage her to do that, but forcing exercise won’t help when she has no one to make her.

Instead of focusing on fixing her being “overweight” (which I think she’s at a fairly average size), try and create healthy habits that she is able to keep up over time. With that, she’ll be able to be self sufficient as well and won’t need you pestering her about weight loss later one.

One last thing, being fat isn’t a curse. Many people have different healthy weights just depending on how their body works. If you instill into your 12 year old that because her body holds more weight it’s bad, she will hold that with her forever and reversing that is FAR harder than losing weight.

Edit: i wanted to add that if this is a medical concern, try to get her tested for her thyroid levels and her A1C because those mess with weight a lot. And if her A1C is too high, then it’s more needed to help your daughter with diet and exercise, rather than she just seems too big.


I’d like add you’ve said literally nothing about Sarah as a person. If you get her enrolled in things she actually likes her self confidence will bloom and so will she. Note-what she likes. Not what you think she should like.


YTA. "I packed her a lunch instead of allowing her to go out to eat during her lunch break. I packed her a salad and a few turkey wraps most days, along with a few sides like hard boiled eggs."

Of course she's going to be upset. She wants to eat with her friends. Also if she's dancing for 6 & a half hours what you're giving her isn't nearly enough. She actually needs carbs.

You shouldn't force your older 2 kids to diet when they don't need to. Your husband is right here & you need to listen up. "It's unfair for us to expect our obese child to diet by herself".

I hope you aren't saying that in earshot of your 12 y o because it isn't healthy either. I get you want to do the right thing but you're going about it the wrong way. Get some advice from a dietician so you can guide her eating without making her feel bad or punishing your entire family.


Eating a salad and hard boiled eggs and then doing intense exercise would make me throw up. She needs carbs and she shouldn’t be denied the ability to socialize with her friends. Being forced to eat a salad alone because her sister is overweight seems like a good way to foster resentment and an eating disorder.


YTA. Not for trying to have your family eat healthily, but for taking it to the extreme of not allowing for special occasions, and all things in moderation. That goes for all three of your children, as you should also be focused on educating Sarah about moderation and not just having her on a strict diet.

You need to be able to get Sarah to participate in more activity - organised team sports are not the only option here. It is also unfair to take a blanket approach to all three children tailored exclusively to the needs of one child.

So, what do you think about this one? If you could give the OP any advice here, what would you tell them?

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