As a woman in our society we are inundated with images of ridiculously thin actresses and models. Diet programs advertise with flashy commercials. Radio ads tell us about diet pills and magazines sport flashy headlines about how to lose 10lbs in 2 weeks.
How can we feel confident about our bodies with these messages? And how can we raise our daughters, and sons for that matter, to have a healthy relationship with food and feel confident about their appearance?
Did you know that as much as 1/3rd of self-esteem is based on body image? YIKES!
Remember that we ARE in fact models. We are role models. Our kids are watching us and listening to us.
Do you engage in “fat talk?” You know…when you are on the phone with your girlfriend and your daughter is in the room, are you talking about wanting to lose weight? Are you making comments about your dissatisfaction of a body part? Are you discussing how you made the low-fat choice when you went to dinner with the girls last week? This is FAT TALK and your daughter is LISTENING!!!
Do you compare yourself to your other people? Have you ever said something like “I could never wear that dress but she looks so good in it.” Your kids are listening!
Do you eat meals with your kids? Do you eat what they’re eating or do you just eat a salad with a fat free dressing and grilled chicken while they’re eating spaghetti? Do you do household chores while your kids are sitting at the table eating lunch? Your kids are watching!
I’m not trying to insinuate that you are a bad parent. I’m actually trying to prove a point and tie all this together…we are bombarded with messages about how we “SHOULD” look and we live our lives striving for what is impossible…a perfect body. We as parents are falling victim to this pressure and our kids are watching us. Then they are falling victim, too.
Things you can do to feel better about yourself and help raise a body-confident child:
Stop the fat talk. Don’t put yourself down. You wouldn’t talk to your friend that way, so why are you talking that way to yourself? If you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say anything at all!
Don’t compare yourself to other people. We tend to compare ourselves in a negative way. We notice what is supposedly better about other people. This makes us feel bad about ourselves and if we’re vocal about it, then our kids are hearing us say “I’m not good enough” and they start looking for their own flaws.
STOP READING fashion magazines that show pictures of thin models and feature weight-loss articles. Don’t have them lying around your house for your kids to thumb through.
Eat in moderation. Don’t label foods as good and bad. Depriving yourself of foods actually makes you crave them more and sets you up to over-eat them. Send the message to your kids that no food is off limits and show them how to enjoy a variety of foods.
Eat with your kids. Show them the importance of taking the time to sit down for a meal instead of eating on the run. This teaches them to respect meal time and view it as self-care. Food is fuel…and we need to take time to fuel our bodies and re-energize.
If you’re unsure how to incorporate healthy meals into your diet, consult a registered dietitian or a health coach.
Finally, if you find yourself obsessing about food and weight seek professional help. If you restrict your diet, binge and/or purge then seek professional help.
This guest post was provided by Hilary Delman of Marietta, Georgia. Hillary is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Nationally Certified Counselor working in the field of mental health since 2006.