Raising healthy, non-eating-disordered children in today’s unhealthy, weight-obsessed culture can feel like a daunting, seemingly impossible task.
Having to change so many negative aspects of our appearance-focused society can feel overwhelming…
But don’t despair!
Children, especially adolescents, look to the adults in their lives to shape emerging views and opinions about their self and others and readily internalize the values, beliefs and self-views expressed by those around them.
Whether a parent, educator, coach or favorite relative, recognize the power within you to help shape non-eating-disordered values and a positive self-image within the young loved ones around you.
Below are 5 easy tips to get you started…
Dr. Julie T. Anne’
Look in the Mirror!
1. Pay close attention to what you are modeling regarding your personal experience of your body and your self-image. Be aware that the image you express – and hold – about yourself has a profound influence over the way in which the children around you learn to look at their body and self.
2. Never express judgmental comments regarding the appearance – or weight – of others. Even positive comments convey the message that weight and appearance matter and, in some cases, contribute to the value and importance of others.
3. Stop Dieting! Research has found that 5-year-old children whose mothers dieted were 2 times as likely to express ideas about dieting and concerns about their weight. Children exposed to a “dieting mentality” early in life are at risk for developing an eating disorder and/or a lifetime struggle with food and weight.
4. Practice a non-restrictive, intuitive eating approach to food – and teach your children to do the same. Focus on the wisdom of your body to provide accurate signals of hunger and fullness. Teach your children to “eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full” and learn to do the same in your personal approach to food.
5. Stop the dieting dialogue! Our culture is obsessed with dieting, yet Americans continue to gain increasingly more weight, decade by decade. Catch yourself as you are about to make a comment regarding weight, dieting and/or your body. Focus on the more important, non-appearance-oriented qualities of both yourself and others – and teach the next generation that internal, not external, qualities are what truly defines who we are.
The power to change resides within us all…start by practicing a healthier emotional approach to food, weight and self-image and watch our society change…one recovered individual, one family, one child at a time!