As a mother it is important to me that my children develop healthy relationships with food and their amazing bodies. I love the researcher Brenee Brown’s view on preparing our children for life. She explains that shame is something that grows from trying to meet some sort of ideal perfectionism. Therefore her advice is to tell our children that they are imperfect and born to overcome struggle, but also worthy of unconditional love.
How would your life have been had you been repeatedly told this?
Many people I speak to have either been told they are fantastic, brilliant and can achieve anything in which case they have felt huge pressures to be perfect and be fantastic and brilliant, feeling ashamed when they fall short of this impossible mission. Alternatively they have been told they are unworthy and have lived as is so.
The following points are ways in which you can teach healthy relationships with food and our bodies:
- Try to avoid discussions or statements around body, appearance, shape or size (aimed at yourself or others). Instead focus on the purpose of the body e.g. my legs are amazing they help me to move, walk and run etc…
- Do not label foods ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (this is something I work on and teach my students that all foods are okay as long as they are not eaten in large amounts – although I have a hard time with coco pops, commercial energy drinks and cereal bars!)
- Model healthy eating (this is very different to crash dieting or a yo-yo situation).
- Try to not use food as a reward or a positive reinforcement (this is one of the most difficult as most of us have followed this habit from early childhood, however tying foods to rewards has encouraged a psychological crutch with regards to food leading to a whole host of issues!)
- Encourage your children to enjoy physical activity and join in e.g. dancing and making up routines etc.
- Give compliments about talents, values, trying hard, overcoming struggles and accomplishments.
- Encourage your children to listen to their own hunger. As parents and grandparents we find it very difficult if our children do not want to eat at a designated time i.e. lunchtime. Allow them to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full.
- Let your children know about unrealistic media images and messages and encourage discussion around this in an open and positive way.I would really appreciate your opinion on the topics I discuss and would love to hear and feedback you can give.
Lots of love and health,