Stop practicing extreme dieting for the sake of your kids. It’s one of the best things you could do for them. I’m not encouraging you to stop taking care of yourself. But quit setting extreme goals and trying to follow unattainable nutrition regimens. Stop letting the number on the scale define your self-worth and dictate your mood for the rest of the week. And quit making food out to be good or bad and feeling intense guilt if you eat something you perceive as being on the ͞bad͟ list. Why am I so adamant that you stop dieting? Because your kids are watching! Our children watch what we do. They begin learning our ways and mimicking them in their own lives. Our kids are paying attention to how we look at food and our dieting approach, and they could be adversely affected. Let’s go over a couple of points and healthy dieting tips to reinforce how dieting can impact your kids.
Healthy Dieting Tips: Don’t forget that your kids are watching!
1) The more extreme the diet, the bigger the impact: Studies report that adolescent girls are more apt to engage in dieting when they observe their mothers’ food behavior and body image, especially it’s distorted.
2) The more extreme the limitation, the bigger the impact: Additional studies have shown that when parents have a more restrictive approach toward food—for example, not letting children ever have dessert—the chances of a child overeating and struggling with weight issues are greater. Children watch what their parents are eating while dieting and associate those choices with how they should diet as well.
3) The more affected by social media, the bigger the impact: As your kids are growing up, they’re facing countless pressures, especially from social media. It impacts the way they think about their body. When you’re feeling shame and guilt because you don’t believe you fit a certain image that society worships, your children are being taught that they should give social media more credibility. I don’t want to tell you how to parent your children, but I want to increase parents’ awareness of the impact dieting can have on these young, impressionable minds. When you strive to become healthier and make better choices in the kitchen, you’re setting an awesome example for your children. But when you take it to an extreme, continuously engage in yo-yo dieting and hate how your body looks in the mirror, your kids are taking notes.
Instead, try these healthy dieting tips:
1) Get them involved: Have your kids participate in the grocery shopping and cooking. Encourage healthy food choices, but enjoy the fun stuff as well! When they participate in meal choices and shopping, you’re encouraging and guiding them to make balanced choices and take ownership.
2) Eat as a family: Eating the same meal at the same time will help eradicate the negative impact dieting can have on children. When we skip out on family meals or make ourselves an entirely different meal than our family, we’re also skipping out on teaching our children a lesson. Making nutritious meals that the entire family eats together teaches kids invaluable lessons on how to take care of their bodies.
No family is perfect, and there will always be some frustration with self-image. But the sooner you can notice that your actions are affecting another generation, the more you’ll improve the lives of your children for years to come. Teach your family that food is fuel, that it can be enjoyed, that it’s a special way to make memories and that it can be eaten in a balanced manner and positive way!