“She’s so skinny, is she not eating enough?”
“I’ve been gaining weight, I probably need to start dieting”
“My thighs are massive!”
Have you ever said something like this to yourself or someone else?
Any comments, to yourself or to others, to suggest problems with weight are considered ‘weight talk‘.
When we say these things, those little ears are listening and those observant eyes are watching. This is how they developing standards of ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
If their mother or aunt constantly talks about dieting and how huge her arms are, children will begin to realise that huge arms are ‘bad’.
If their mum comments on a skinny friend on how good they look, they will grow up thinking that being ‘thin’ is good and will try to live up to those (unrealistic) standards (possibly using unhealthy methods).
young people [are]…overexposed to unrealistic body shapes
What are the facts of weight obsession?
- Body dissatisfaction – 7 out of 10 preschool aged children are unhappy with how they look, preferring a ‘thin’ body.
- Eating disorders – kids with parents that talk about dieting or diet are more likely to diet in the future and develop eating disorders.
- Fear of food – kids can end up trying to avoid food groups and developing anxiety. This reduction in variety can cause selective eating (or increase the severity).
The problem is we focus too much on WEIGHT and APPEARANCE and too little on MENTAL and PHYSICAL health.
If your child is eating happily, developing a good relationship with food, and your family doctor has no concerns about their health, it doesn’t really matter if they look slightly thinner or fatter than other children.
They are MENTALLY and PHYSICALLY healthy!
What do we need to do?
What’s important is that we teach children about ‘mindful eating’ and listening to their internal cues.
They need to learn how to enjoy eating and consume all foods in moderation. NOT judging their self-worth by their weight or how they look.
To everyone out there: try to be more conscious of what you are saying around children. It’s not easy, but if we make the effort, we can minimise the long-term impacts on our children.
*If you’re interested in more tips on developing a mindful eater, check out Baby Guru Nutrition, I just love their values on eating and nutrition!