Last week I was interviewed for Heather from Half Size Me’s
new podcast (to be released in 2020) about raising body confident, healthy kids. I actually found the interview quite challenging as I don’t have all the answers, and I’m learning on my own by trial and error. I’m aware of the pressures that parents face when their child is overweight and the subsequent judgement from other parents, their child’s peers, and health professionals. I’m also very aware how prevalent body image/ weight/ diet issues are amongst youth- both personally and professionally. From clients I work with, and my own 10 year old son and his peers. I wish I had all the answers, but like you, I’m just doing the best I can.
I might not know everything, but here’s what I know to be true:
✔️DO NOT put your child on a diet for weight loss purposes (versus for allergies, etc.). While there may not be a clear ‘best way’ to help your child, there is one way that has been shown over and over again to do damage (both psychological and physiological) long term, and that’s dieting. Have courage and stand up to any pressure that suggests you should put your kid on a diet.
✔️Talk about food as ‘everyday’ and ’sometimes foods’ instead of ‘good’ and ‘bad’. Encourage the principles of intuitive eating. Give kids more say as to what goes on their plate and how much they eat. Eat together as a family and without distractions.
✔️Be active as a family. Encourage exercise build strong bones, for energy and creativity, to connect with friends, not to lose weight or burn calories.
✔️Be a role model. Your child’s is looking to YOU- and they’re always watching (yes, you know what I mean!). And while you’re not the only influence on their habits and beliefs, you are a major one. Speaking kindly to yourself, and take care of your health. Get out and move as a family.
✔️Make sure that your child knows you love and accept them no matter what. Any human being, child or adult, seeks acceptance. And making healthier choices happens much more naturally when you (or your child) feels safe and accepted.
Moms, dads. I know you’re doing the best you can. And when we know better, we can do better.
What is one way you encourage healthy habits in your family?