DEAR AMY: I have a 6-year-old granddaughter. She is pretty, kind, smart, helpful and active with many friends. She has always been a picky eater. She eats very little protein, hardly any vegetables, some fruit, nuts and peanut butter, but does consume dairy and lots of salty snacks, breads, cookies, sweets, "health" bars, etc. Her parents have tried to get her to eat more nutritious foods, but they continually give in with the sweet and salty items because they want her to eat something. They also often buy her sweets. She is noticeably heavier than others her age. I've made a few light suggestions, but I'm no expert. I don't want to make them feel they're being bad parents. I don't know if they've asked their pediatrician. I worry about obesity, diabetes, kids making fun of her, and other results of being overweight. Do you have any suggestions? Can you give me the words for talking to the parents, and offer some helpful advice?
DEAR NANA: Your granddaughter is at the perfect age to learn about healthy nutrition. Learning about nutrition can be as simple as playing a game in the supermarket, learning to read labels, and choosing "whole" foods over processed foods. You can do this with her. Tell her to find some of her favorite foods and see if you can replace some of the processed foods with an equivalent product but with fewer ingredients. Don't force her to eat meat (dairy, nuts, eggs and veggies provide protein).
The very best way for children to learn about nutrition is to cook!
Grandchildren have been cooking with their "Nanas" since the dawn of time.
"Cooking" can be cutting up fruit and veggies and arranging the pieces into a fun-looking salad.
Cooking can be measuring the appropriate proportions of rice to water for the rice cooker, making healthy smoothies or stirring easy-to-make caramel sauce to dip apple slices into. She can even make her own "health" bars.
You should not tell your granddaughter that she is fat, or will be fat, or that she is "chunky," "husky," "big boned," or any iteration of this. You should not comment on the size or shape of her body. You should only focus on positive, healthy choices, and choose activities — both in and out of the kitchen — that help her to feel awesome, strong, and in control.
Let your granddaughter take some of these healthy lessons back to her parents. There are dozens of fun cookbooks geared toward kids. My pal Mollie Katzen has authored several. Her most recent is: "Salad People and More Real Recipes: A New Cookbook for Preschoolers and Up" (2005, Tricycle Press). Let her choose recipes she wants to make, and praise and enjoy the results.
DEAR AMY: Recently a friend of mine confided in me that she has been having a years-long affair with a member of our close-knit community. No one else knows, except me, but a few people have had suspicions. In order to give herself and her lover space, she separated from her husband of more than 20 years for a few months. While the guy did not respond the way she had hoped (and that relationship seems to have ended), her husband had a brief "fling" — also with someone well-known to all involved. Unfortunately, due to the small community and the vagaries of social media, everyone knows about this affair. My friend is using his infidelity (and the inappropriateness of his choice of partner) to make him miserable. He wants to put all of this behind them, continue counseling and move forward together. She is extracting every last pound of flesh she can. I am sworn to secrecy about her far-worse indiscretion but having a hard time being around either one of them. Help!
Sleepless in Chicago
DEAR SLEEPLESS: Your friend's lack of integrity is a friendship-ender. Your choice to keep her secrets has put you in a position to judge her behavior.
She tells you everything. So you should tell her everything: "I don't like being in this position. I've lost respect for you. I hope you work everything out, but p-l-e-a-s-e leave me out of it."
DEAR AMY: The recent letter from "LJ" in your column blew my mind! I had never heard of the term "catfishing" before. Do people really do this?
DEAR IGNORANT: "Catfishing" is when people use the internet to create completely false identities in order to ensnare unsuspecting people. It is basically an emotional scam. Yes, people really do this.