I’ve been with my fiancée for over six years, and I get excited to think about what our children might be like, and how life will change in a positive way as we move forward in our life together.
Naturally, I worry about how I’m going to educate my child on how to eat healthfully and instill a positive body image. Everyday I see young people struggling with food and their self-esteem, and I know, as I become a parent I will not want to see my children struggle in the same way. And I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. That is why I wanted to share these tips to help our children develop in a manner to have a healthy attitude about food and their bodies.
First it’s important to reinforce that it’s not about the way our children look, but the way they feel. Basically, start to teach your children how to eat intuitively. Ask your child “what would feel best in your body?” This allows them to explore their inner signals produced by either their stomach or cellular hungers (explained by the seven hungers of intuitive eating), and make healthful and conscious decisions about what to have to eat.
Second, discuss with your child that there are no “bad” foods. I’m a firm believer, and I try to educate my client’s everyday, that there are no such things as “good” foods or “bad” foods it’s all about eating appropriate for your needs, both physically and mentally, and learning moderation. If we create shame about our children’s food choices they will begin to lose trust in themselves around food. This causes them to become out of touch with their intuition and fall into anxiety and rebellious behaviors, not only with food but also in life. Therefore, empower children to make their own choices. At first I can’t promise that they wont take advantage of this, but by setting a good example yourself, I can promise that they will figure it out.
Next, don’t shame your child, or make them feel badly about who they are or the way they look. This is always counterproductive. If you’re worried about your child’s health, because of their weight, focus on helping them make healthy choices that make them feel better. Forget about the numbers, and always let them know that they are beautiful. Remember, they are still growing and putting that pressure on them at a young age can affect their development.
And yes, food choices are important, but it is actually why your child is eating that is far more valuable. If you encourage your child to be in touch with their bodies, and make intuitive choices based on their hunger cues, they will probably be just fine. Even so, if you suspect that their eating is based on emotional reasons, help them process those feelings, without making it about food… because it’s really not about the food.
Finally, if you struggle with your own body image or relationship with food, what do you think your child is seeing? Make it your own priority to create a healthy relationship with food that you would also want for your child. If this is something that you do struggle with, this may seem easier said than done, but by getting the appropriate help you might just surprise yourself. Remember, it’s not just for you it’s also for your family.
If you would like to learn more about teaching your child, and yourself, about healthy eating and a positive body image, contact the Inner Door Center at 248-336-2868 for more information on our treatment programs or visit www.innerdoorcenter.com