In the face of the backlash, writer Dara-Lynn Weiss stands by her 9-year-old's slim-down

By Catherine Kast
Updated January 19, 2013 03:00 PM
Credit: Juliana Sohn

After making headlines last year with her Vogue story about her then-7-year-old daughter Bea’s battle with obesity – and the mother’s strict orders about no pizza Fridays at school and no whip cream on hot chocolate – New York City “Diet Mom” Dara-Lynn Weiss has just released a new memoir on their journey, called The Heavy.

“There wasn’t a voice from a mom who had lived through this and been an imperfect but very loving and dedicated parent around the issue of childhood obesity,” Weiss tells PEOPLE.

“I wanted to be honest about the difficulties. I wanted people to know that this is a lot harder than conventional wisdom would have us believe the solution to childhood obesity is.”

To help Bea lose 16 lbs. from her 93-lb., 4’4″ frame, Weiss primarily focused on “reducing processed food, increasing fruits and vegetables, and getting a little more exercise,” she says.

They also changed how they share their quality time together. “We bake less at home now. I think it was really fun to bake cupcakes together, and we have come to realize that’s not a great idea.”

Weiss, who admits to having her own body image issue as a child, wasn’t Bea’s only cheerleader during her weight-loss journey.

“My fear of saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, and giving her issues like the ones I struggled with kept me silent for years as she was establishing unhealthy habits and becoming overweight,” says Weiss. “Being cognizant of [my issues] was part of the reason why I brought in a nutritionist who specialized with pediatric obesity to give me a sense of how to approach this from a nutrition point of view and an emotional point of view.”

Bea, now 9, has since maintained her healthy weight and her new healthy habits.

“I love the fact that she still has the same love for food. And I love the fact that even though she still wants two cupcakes, she knows she can only have one cupcake, and I don’t even have to tell her anymore,” says Weiss.