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One kid’s summer project: ‘Portion Size Me’

Alex and Marshall Reid on the "Portion Size Me" summer tour.

Alex and Marshall Reid on the "Portion Size Me" summer tour.

No one wants to be the fat kid. Not you, not me, not 12-year-old Marshall Reid.

At the age of ten, Marshall proposed a summer family project: to get healthy. He told his mom that he wanted to try “the opposite of Super Size Me,” a documentary about eating McDonald’s each day for a month.

As an obese child, Marshall had become the object of classmates’ ridicule and felt like he couldn’t keep up in sports. He says, “I always pulled on my clothes to keep them from creeping up on my stomach… I just felt like something had to change because I was getting really unhappy.”

Marshall’s mom consented to the month-long project to improve the family’s eating habits. Marshall kept a journal and recorded video clips throughout the process, which were used to create the book “Portion Size Me: A Kid-Driven Plan to a Healthier Family.”

This workbook-style publication contains accounts of his experience along with tips, tricks and recipes for helping other kids follow in his footsteps.

Marshall developed his healthy-family-project plan with his mom, Alex Reid. They set six guidelines to follow based on common sense. Those include:

  • Eat as many real foods as possible (Real defined as coming from a “once-living source”)
  • Read ingredients
  • Pause before you eat (What are you eating and why?)
  • Get moving
  • Help out in the kitchen (Getting kids involved in the cooking)
  • Watch portion sizes

Part of Marshall’s challenge was to persuade his (then) 13-year-old sister to participate in his family project. With no weight problem and a serious penchant for junk foods, she’s been harder to convert. Once he and his mom made the decision to continue the plan beyond a month, Marshall also had to convince his dad to comply when he returned home from a tour of duty in Iraq.

Now, two years later, Marshall is no longer categorized as obese and says he has far more energy as a result of his new lifestyle. He hasn’t told many people at school about his book, with one exception. He says, “I haven’t told a lot of my classmates. I feel like they’ll treat me differently. But I’ll tell bullies, hoping they’ll treat me differently!”

The Reid family is currently on a summer cross-country tour spreading the word about the book. In each of the 30 cities they visit, Marshall is speaking to groups of kids about his experience and hosting “Snack Wars,” a healthy cooking challenge for kids based on the show “Chopped.” Marshall says he’s journaling their travels for a possible second book.

After this experience, which got him cooking, Marshall says he’d like to be a chef one day. He would “take the best of all the restaurants and make an ultra-awesome restaurant.”

For more information about Marshall’s experience and to see his videos, visit the Portion Size Me website and Facebook page.

–by Jenny Turknett, Food and More blog

3 comments Add your comment


June 27th, 2012
6:10 am

Go Marshall!


June 27th, 2012
8:19 am

Very cool. That is one smart kid.


June 27th, 2012
10:20 am

Bravo, kid. Works for adults, too.