IDEAS OF ACCEPTABLE WEIGHT FORM EARLY (UPI Health News Article)
This article is only one of many illustrating the research being done on the prevention of obesity. And to me, these articles represent a double edged sword.
As a dietitian working with pediatrics and eating disorders, parts of me cringe at how well-meaning parents may interpret this information and impart fearful and damaging messages to their very young children. And also as a dietitian with 2 advanced certifications and many years of experience working with individuals to realize their weight management goals, I feel proud of how far the research has come emphasizing proper nutrition and physical activity for health and well-being.
So often I work with wonderful and intelligent adults, who received messages from their parents/role models at fragile ages telling them that they were too fat or were put on a diet. The literature has spoken on several occasions noting 3 year olds, 6 year olds, 8 year olds, complaining they were too fat and can’t eat certain foods because of that. I can’t imagine my little girl, who is 3, telling me she thinks she’s fat!
Any adult who has children in their lives on some level (nieces, god-children, working in the church nursery, neighbors) are automatically a role-model for those kids. In this role, we hold a responsibility to model appropriate boundaries in regards to how we treat each other and ourselves regarding health, food, body image, manners, etc.
Here are my Top 10 Ways to Role Model Healthy Behaviors to the Kids in Our Lives:
1. Set daily meal and snack times for yourself, not just your family
2. Eat with your kid, not just feed them
3. Acknowledge your own food preferences and attitudes and how that influences your family’s meals
4. Stop talking about how much was or was not eaten at meals-including your own
5. Do not comment about weight (yours, theirs, or anyone else, even if joking or you think your kids aren’t listening)
6. Reward yourself with NON-FOOD rewards like “you time” or a spa treatment instead of food
7. Share what passions you do have about cooking and healthful eating with your family
8. When no longer hungry, stop eating. (This is a shift in focus. We are used to asking ourselves if we are full versus asking ourselves if we are no longer hungry. This will lead to a big difference in calorie intake at the end of the day.)
9. Set boundaries at the table: what you prepared is the meal, do not make special food or become a short order cook when food is refused.
10. Forgive yourself for not being perfect and be okay with trying again and again. Practice makes perfect!