Before You Judge the Mom Buying Soda in the Grocery Store


One day my daughter was with me while I was running errands. We made a quick stop at a grocery store and loaded a shopping cart down with packs of soda cans. After grabbing a few more groceries, we struggled to push the heavy cart to the checkout lanes. As we got up our speed and rolled past the deli meats, one lady stared at me disapprovingly. I knew what she was thinking. Assuming she could plainly see why my daughter is overweight, she shook her head and said, “Ugh! I can’t… I just can’t…” as she turned away from us. I wanted desperately to set her straight, but the cart was rolling with a lot of momentum now, and it wasn’t worth my effort to bring it to a stop just to tell this lady how wrong she was.

Tonight my house is quiet and my brain is active, so I thought I’d send out a public service announcement: if you see a child with weight issues in the grocery store with a mom whose cart is full of soda, please reserve judgment. You just might not know as much as you think you know.

The lady in the grocery store did not know my daughter has a rare genetic syndrome called Bardet-Biedl syndrome that causes obesity. She didn’t know my daughter’s hypothalamus does not correctly receive the satiety signal and that she lives every day of her life feeling hungry, even when she’s eaten enough. She didn’t know my daughter’s hypothalamus believes she is starving and tells her to seek and eat food with intensity, or that a starving hypothalamus will tell the body to decrease metabolism so my daughter only burns 75 percent of the calories a healthy child burns. This lady had no idea this genetic syndrome also causes fat cells to more rapidly store fat than in a healthy child.

The lady in the deli aisle didn’t know we’ve worked incredibly hard to control my daughter’s weight, including placing her on special diet, restricting her calories, and encouraging daily exercise and participation in sports. She didn’t realize my daughter’s endocrinologist had praised our efforts at our last appointment and declared my daughter was “the healthiest child with Bardet-Biedl syndrome” she’d ever heard of.

But you may be thinking, “surely drinking soda doesn’t help the problem.” And you would be correct. This is one reason my daughter hasn’t had a sip of soda in over six years, and why we strictly limit fruit juice to 3 ounces per day — just enough to help her absorb her daily iron supplement. So why did I have a cart loaded down with packs of soda cans? I’m a mobile home park manager. It’s my job to fill the soda machine every few months.

Please be careful to not judge, even when it seems you know the situation. You just might not know as much as you think you know.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Bardet-Biedl Syndrome

five children smiling and hugging outside

6 Things I Did to Help Find the Diagnosis for My Daughters' Rare Disorder

I used to believe that if you had something wrong with you, you could head to the doctor and he or she would run a few tests and then tell you what was wrong. It wasn’t until I had two daughters born with a rare presentation of a rare genetic condition that I realized even [...]

I Feared Her Childhood Would Be Filled With Pain. She Proved Me Wrong.

When I was 23 years old, I stood in the corner of a little room in the Emergency Department watching nurses and technicians pin down my first child. My tiny, 2-week-old daughter. She screamed for me and I held back tears as they stuck her over and over again, searching for a vein. We were [...]

When a Little Girl Asked My Daughter Why Her Belly Is So Big

The first thing the doctor noticed when my daughter Naomi was born was her club feet. It was two hours later that the nurse, who was giving Naomi her bath, called the doctor back to look at my child’s distended abdomen. Naomi was born with a rare genetic condition that wouldn’t finally be diagnosed until [...]
A mom holding her small newborn close to her chest in a hospital bed

Why I No Longer Fear My Children's Disease

Dear Bardet-Biedl Syndrome, I first met you when I was 23 years old, when all my husband and I expected to find out was whether our first precious child was a boy or a girl. We met you through the words “her kidneys are a little too bright.” You struck through my heart with a [...]