The Dangers of the New WW Kurbo App

Dear parent, I know you want the best for your child—that you want your child to be healthy and happy and thriving. So I beg you, if you genuinely want your child to be healthy and to set your child up for success when it comes to navigating food and body concerns as well as mental wellbeing, please do not put your child on a diet or encourage the use of a weight loss app. For those of you who aren’t aware, @ww recently came out with an app for kids ages 8-17 to track food. This app uses a stoplight system to rank foods—green, yellow, and red. I have SO SO many issues with this app as a dietitian and someone who work with clients with food and body struggles. This app is unethical and dangerous. Here are a few of my issues:

1.     This app targets kids during a time when they are *supposed* to be gaining weight (swipe over for the charts). For example, clinical recommendations for weight gain during the ages of 8-18 for a boy who has been on the 50th percentile is 100 lbs and for a girl is 85 lbs (you can see that during teenage years it is 50 lbs and 25 lbs, respectively.) We are pathologizing something that is completely healthy and normal—creating shame and guilt. Your child needs to grow out before he/she can grow up.

Boy growth chart
Girl growth chart

2.     Only one of the “health coaches” listed on their site has a degree in nutrition, the rest have backgrounds in communications, political economy, tourism, etc. I’m not knocking their degrees, they simply don’t have the education background I believe is necessary for helping coach children in the area of food nutrition (FYI, an RD has at least 4 years of school plus an internship and national board exam. Some of us also have a master’s degree too).

3.     Kids think in black and white and this app could easily lead kids to viewing food as “good” and “bad” and we simply know that food nutrition is not this simple—there is a lot of nuance. This good/bad mentality causes so much anxiety, guilt, and shame. Eating a “bad” food then makes you “bad” and alternatively, eating a “good” food makes you “good.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my children gauging their morality based off of their food intake.

4.     From the little bit I’ve seen (I will acknowledge I have not downloaded the app), it appears mainly fruits and veggies are green, lean proteins and grains are yellow, and pretty much anything high in calories is red. This way of viewing food simply in terms of calories is completely ignoring nutrition. Yes, fat is high in calories, but also so so important for our bodies as well as for fullness and satisfaction. Fruits and veggies are important for our health, but I have plenty of clients who used to eat mainly fruits and veggies and they can report they feel WAY better eating a wider variety of foods (the GI system can only handle so much fiber haha). Hummus, applesauce, etc should NOT be considered a red food, and yet they are on the app.

 
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5.     Dieting is a huge predictor/trigger for disordered eating and eating disorders. 1 in 4 people who go on a diet develop an eating disorder. Guys, this is a staggering statistic. ONE in FOUR. Your child has a greater risk of developing an eating disorder than type 2 diabetes. This is the biggest reason I cannot get behind an app like this (or WW allowing teenagers to join) or any form of dieting. I have personally experienced an eating disorder and work with clients every day who are working hard to overcome their struggles with food so that they can live a rich and full life. Eating disorders are dangerous (they have the highest mortality rate of all mental disorders) and strip away everything important to the people who struggle with them.

6.     The app and WW can claim that it’s a lifestyle plan, but they talk all about BMI and weight and have before and after pictures. This is about weight, not health. The Academy of Pediatrics clearly states that children should NOT be put on a diet. If they genuinely care about health, this app would be altogether different and there would be no talk of weight or before or after pictures.

7.     Speaking of before and after pictures—this creates the idea that the before was less than the after. These children are valuable regardless of their body size or the way they look. Putting children on diets only tells them that their body is a problem that needs to be fixed, bringing me back to point number 1 and 5.

This app is problematic on so many different levels. I’ve heard the National Eating Disorder Association released an official statement on the dangers of this app (along with many other health professionals) and yet WW has not taken it off the market. Let’s be honest, they don’t care about the health of your children, they care about their bottom line. So please, please do not allow your children to use this app. And comment below if you have questions or concerns--I am open to respectful dialogue. Share this and other articles with your parent friends. And if you are interested, sign this petition to get it removed http://chng.it/kwqzFnsJ8D

Snack Ideas

I apologize because it’s been FOREVER since I’ve posted on here. I could say that I’m far too busy taking care of a baby and seeing clients, but really it ultimately comes down to intention. Blogging takes work and time—something I don’t always want to invest 🤪. I do NOT understand how some bloggers post multiple times a week (or even some, every day!!). Major props to those people.

I get questions about snack ideas, so I thought I would compile a list of ideas for you. Please remember that ANY food can be a snack food. There are no rules about what “counts” as a snack versus a meal or dessert. YOU get to decide what you want to eat whenever you get hungry. The purpose of a snack is simply to get you through until your next meal without getting overly hungry. So what and how much you choose depends on when your next meal is, how long it’s been since you last ate, and what you last ate. If it’s been 3 hours since I last ate and I still have 2 more hours until my husband gets home for dinner, I’m going to eat a much more substantial snack than if I only have 30 more minutes until meal time (and yes, I will eat a snack even if dinner is in 30 minutes. Hanger can hit in 30 minutes). Or a night time snack typically isn’t as substantial because I’m not as hungry from having dinner somewhat recently.

But guys, you do what works best for YOU! Use this list simply as an idea—the amount is up to you. And if you’re wondering, yes, I typically aim for a carb and fat/protein at each snack to help with satiety and blood sugar stabilization.

So here you go! And if you notice a lot of peanut butter references, really everything I eat is just a vehicle for peanut butter. 😉

This granola (I actually half the amount of nuts, but you do you) with milk and banana slices

 
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Cheese, turkey, and crackers…I HIGHLY recommend Aldi’s "specialty select” rosemary scalloped crackers with their goat cheese. Aldi is the place to go for yummy and affordable cheeses.

 
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Muffin or slice of bread with nut butter or butter. Every week I make a baked goodie or two. Here’s my current favorite pumpkin banana bread, vegan banana bread (with chocolate chips added, duh) , almond flour banana bread, apple crumble snack bars

 
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Leftover pancake with nut butter and banana (you can find my whole wheat pancake recipe here)

Yogurt parfait (use full fat yogurt, trust me) with yogurt, fruit, and granola or nuts…I personally LOVE the Green Mountain Top Creamery 5% plain yogurt with honey and peanut butter mixed in.

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Cottage cheese + fruit

Fruit + cheese stick

Dinner leftovers (this is great when you don’t have enough leftovers for a full meal)

 
Gosh, I love Papa Murphy’s pizzas….

Gosh, I love Papa Murphy’s pizzas….

 

Toast with avocado and egg or deli meat

Baked good—cookie, piece of cake, brownie, etc. I’ve shared before, but these brownies are bomb…

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Protein or granola bar + fruit (a few of my favorite brands are RX bars, Perfect Bars, Nature Valley granola, Luna peanut butter protein, Clif peanut butter, KIND nut ones)

 
Homemade lara bars…

Homemade lara bars…

 

Smoothie that has some sort of protein powder or nut butter for some staying power

Coffee smoothie (cold brew, frozen banana, date) with collagen peptides.

Coffee smoothie (cold brew, frozen banana, date) with collagen peptides.

Juice plus chocolate powder with banana, peanut butter, milk, and ice topped with more peanut butter and banana bread crumbles.

Juice plus chocolate powder with banana, peanut butter, milk, and ice topped with more peanut butter and banana bread crumbles.

Leftover roasted veggies + cottage cheese

Popcorn + nuts/cheese

Hope this gives you some inspiration. I’d love to hear what snacks YOU enjoy!!

How the Bible informs our view of fatness

A foundational part of making peace with food is letting go of controlling our body size. With this comes the uncertainty of what will happen to it and the potential of weight gain. And to be honest, the potential of weight gain that isn’t acceptable to our thin-obsessed culture. This is something that almost all of my clients struggle with: “but what if I become fat”?? I think we need to address what is at the root of our fear of fatness. Is it fear of losing some part of our pseudo identity (I say pseudo because your identity is not truly found in your body)? Is it fear of being ostracized by friends or family? Is it rooted in our own negative assumptions about people in fat bodies?

 
How the Bible informs our view of fatness
 

If I’m being transparent, I used to have a lot of negative assumptions about fat people (I say “fat people” because it is simply a description, not a negative judgment). When I learned about intuitive eating, I had to work through those assumptions and decide whether or not they were true and whether or not they were in-line with Scripture. There was no way I was going to be able to accept my body getting bigger if I made judgments about other people’s big bodies. As I started to explore my view of fatness and fat people, I realized that I had a lot of untrue beliefs about the behaviors of fat people as well as my own bias about it.

First, let’s address that our body weight is LARGELY out of our control and is determined by a host of factors, namely genetics. Socioeconomic status, education level, and stigma also play a huge role. When we recognize that our weight isn’t always a direct result of our behaviors, we no longer have space to blame the individual for the size of their body—it’s not because they are lazy, undisciplined, or gluttonous. And yet, these are stigmas that are very much attributed to people in large bodies. I assure you that there are people in large bodies who eat very little and move a lot, and that there are people in thin bodies who eat a lot and move very little. We canNOT know a person’s behaviors around food simply by looking at them.

Not only is it assumptions about their health or their food habits that we have to address, it’s also beliefs about their character. Again, I cannot know someone’s character or morality by looking at them. The size of a person’s body has no bearing on either. When we are quick to judge someone by the size of their body, not only are we acting out of step with the Holy Spirit, we may also be missing out on an opportunity to know that person deeply because of our preconceived ideas and stigma. 1 Samuel 16:7 teaches about the character of God and how He does not look at outward appearance as we do, but instead He looks at and judges the heart (which make me realize I need to be less concerned with others hearts and more concerned about my own). Furthermore, multiple times throughout Scripture, it says that God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11, 10:12, Acts 10:34, Galatians 3:28 just to name a few). In fact, all throughout the Gospels we see Jesus pursuing and loving the poor, sick, marginalized, and outcast.

 
How the Bible informs our view of fatness
 

Let me briefly address the identity issue: I completely understand finding identity in what your body looks like or how you exercise or what food you put in your mouth—I’ve been there. But trying to find my identity in how my body looked was anxiety-provoking, ever-changing, and ultimately, fruitless. Who I am and Whose I am are firmly rooted in the person and work of Jesus. Trying to find my identity in body doesn’t work because that’s not where its found. So if my body changes (which it WILL throughout life), my identity is not affected.

Now, I completely affirm people’s fear of becoming a size that is not acceptable. People in larger bodies are ostracized, judged, and treated poorly. For those accepting their natural size beyond cultural standards, there is the potential for experiencing real discrimination and emotional trauma. That’s not a position any of us want to willingly put ourselves in. But instead of constantly fighting body size, we need to be fighting culture. I hope to live in a society where all bodies are seen as good and that everyone has the space to pursue whole health (physical, emotional, spiritual, relational).  For those of you in large bodies, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for the messages you’ve received about your body. And for the way you’ve been treated differently. You are seen, loved, and cherished by your heavenly Father.

This is a difficult topic and I’m sure there are some who have lots of questions or issues with what I’ve brought up (the church at large teaches a thin=healthy=holy message). I’d love to hear what you’re struggling with when it comes to fatness and the Christian faith. I’d love to be able to address them in further posts, so comment below!