- 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:
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Chrissy Carroll, owner of Inspired Wellness Solutions, maintains our blog. Please enjoy these helpful posts!
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