DEAR HARRIETTE: My nephew does not like to drink water. He drinks way too much soda for someone his age, and I am concerned about his weight. My nephew happens to be sensitive about his weight, which is understandable, considering he is probably a good 40 pounds overweight at age 9. I want to encourage him to drink more water without hurting his feelings. I know what this can lead to. I drank tons of soda and ate lots of fried food as a child. I am fighting off a good 100 pounds of extra weight now. This is not a path my nephew should take. How can I help him make different choices? My sister seems to be oblivious to the consequences of feeding him this junk food. -- Staying Hydrated, Memphis, Tennessee
DEAR STAYING HYDRATED: If you are willing to lay it all on the line with your nephew about how your eating habits as a child affected your weight and health as an adult, you stand a chance of getting through to him. People best understand things when they can envision them. Obviously, you can come up with statistics about what sweet, carbonated drinks do to the body. They are readily available. But proof positive of your weight struggles coupled with your telling your nephew exactly what you consumed as a child is more provocative. You should add to your discussion what your activity level was and is.
If you have started a regimen toward health that includes drinking water, eating healthfully and moving your body, perhaps you can create a challenge with your nephew that you two do together. You can check in regularly to see how well he is doing. Creating a buddy system provides structure for making smart choices. You should also talk to your sister and get her involved in your plan so that your nephew is supported on all saides.