- Don’t restrict your child from eating when they are hungry. Children actually have a relatively good radar for understanding hunger and satiety cues when not distracted by things like television. This doesn’t mean supplying them with a bag of cookies as a snack, or letting them have a free for all in the kitchen 5 minutes before dinner. But there’s no reason a child shouldn't be allowed to choose a healthy snack (like an apple with peanut butter) if they’re hungry an hour or two before dinner.
- Discuss the media and their perception of what it means to be “beautiful.” Be critical of media messages that say you have to be a certain size or shape to be pretty. Encourage your children to be critical thinkers and assess whether media messages are accurate.
- Compliment your child and build their self-esteem. Be sure to point out aspects of their personality, knowledge, and skills that you are proud of – items outside of appearance.
- Don’t use food as a reward or punishment. We often do this without even realizing it – “If you clean your room, you can have a piece of candy.” Or “You’re in trouble. You can’t have any dessert tonight.” This can create unhealthy relationships with food and eating – use other forms of rewards and punishment instead.
- Model healthy behaviors and positive self-talk. Eat foods that nourish your body, exercise because it keeps you fit, and don’t make negative statements about your body - like “Ugh, I look so fat” - in front of your child (better yet, don’t make those kind of statements period!).
- Create healthy meals for your whole family and encourage positive conversation at meal time. Turn off the television, sit at the table, and make eating a good experience.
- Make exercise a fun family or friend activity. Ride bikes, go hiking, go swimming, play games like tag and capture the flag. Avoid making exercise seem like a chore or dreaded activity.
- Don’t make jokes, rude comments, or other such remarks about overweight people – children catch on very easily and begin to associate weight with value.
- Teach your children to respect people of all colors, shapes, and sizes.
Take a look at this quick PSA from the National Eating Disorders Association, and ask yourself – is this what you want your child thinking?
Continuing with National Eating Disorder Awareness week, this video begs the question – how do we set up a healthy lifestyle for our children without leading them down a path of disordered eating? Here are some tips for all you parents out there:
What mental illness kills the most people every year?
Eating disorders. These have the highest mortality rate compared to any other mental illness. This week, February 26th through March 3rd, is National Eating Disorders Awareness week. Eating disorders have very little to do with food and dieting, and much more to do with deeper psychological issues like control and low self-esteem. They may exist in conjunction with other issues such as depression or anxiety.
Eating disorders include several different conditions:
Eating disorders can arise from a combination of biological, behavioral, psychological, emotional, interpersonal, and social factors. Some of the factors in the psychological and interpersonal areas include low self-esteem, difficulty expressing emotions, a history of being teased or ridiculed based on weight/body size, and feelings of inadequacy. Social factors include views of the “perfect body” in media and glorified thinness.
In the February 2012 issue of Fitness magazine, they included the answers that women gave to this survey question: “What do you think when you look at yourself naked?”
The answers were as follows:
Stop the drive for thinness.
Stop body dissatisfaction.
Let’s nourish ourselves properly, stop beating ourselves up, and focus on what our body does for us, rather than hating how it looks. Be proud of yourself and your body, and treat it right!