Book Review: The Heavy

In The Heavy, Dara-Lynn Weiss begins the book with her struggles of food, diets, and accepting herself.   These words, although her own, mirror so much of my life from the Weight Watchers diet in high school to the way she felt about herself to the weight put on and remaining after having children, I related on many levels.  She shares these struggles not because the book is about her, but because it is no surprise to her when one of her children ends up struggling with food. 

While my children are not obese, I sympathized with her struggles to try and maintain a healthy diet for her daughter because I know how hard it is for me as an adult to try and control food intake.  As they navigate through meals at restaurants, birthday parties and celebrations, school lunches, and summer camps there are many challenges for one who is wanting to be calorie conscious.  Especially a seven year old little girl who does not want to be different from her friends.  

There has been a lot of controversy over whether Dara-Lynn was right to put her daughter on a diet, or whether this was for herself rather than her daughter.   Readers are asking if she embarrassed her daughter or was too strict.  I did not read the book to judge her way of parenting.    Having not walked the road she has walked, I don't know how I would react.   I do agree with her that when your child has special needs, whether those be food related, academic related, or something else, as a parent, you want to provide for your child and assist them with those needs.    I cannot fault her, and I actually applaud her, for stepping up to the plate and helping her daughter.

Admittedly, this book covers topics that I feel strongly about.   Struggling myself with food issues, it breaks my heart to see young children yolked with the burden of obesity and the diseases that come along with it.  I wonder why people are criticizing Dara-Lynn for teaching her daughter how to moderate her food intake which in turn brings down her weight, lowers her cholesterol and  BMI.   How can we help our children wade through the many food options put in front of them daily if we cannot talk about food, diets, and choices?  Is that a responsible choice as parents, especially if our children happen to be prone to carrying weight like Dara-Lynn's? 

Growing up, my parents often talked about a toolbox that we grow up with.  From early stages we learn different "tools" to put into our toolbox that will assist and at times guide us in life.    Many times I have reached into my toolbox, at times dusting off the tools, as I enter different situations.  Considering this toolbox, I think it wrong to not provide the tools of nutrition to children, which is what we deny them if we cannot have the conversations with them about food choices.  

Perhaps the controversy comes around the word "diet."   She mentions in her book and in interviews that her definition of diet is a food plan that one is habitually on.  Perhaps this makes sense to me, one who is on a Gluten-Free diet, but really we use the word diet when talking about the food consumption of animals as well.   "The diet of (animal) consists of (food)."

As a memoir, this book does an excellent job of showing the courage of a mother to undertake the challenge of helping her daughter to become a healthy weight while preserving her daughter's integrity, self esteem, and their relationship based on the information shared in the book.  


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