Let’s Drop Diet Resolutions This Year – Our Kids Are Listening


  • Pandemic data shows weight gain in parents and children and an increase in eating disorders in adolescents.
  • Include children in movement activities, such as dancing or cleaning, instead of limiting food.

The data is heavy and the headlines are relentless: During the pandemic, 51% of American parents reported unwanted weight gain, obesity has increased in children 5 to 11 years old and hospitalizations for eating disorders in adolescents increased significantly.

I didn’t connect my active, kale-loving family of five to these stats until I noticed a note in my medical records. While examining the patient, the clinician typed “Overweight, but alert”.

Alerted – and insulted – I immediately started researching diets, such as macronutrient tracking and intermittent fasting, but worried about eating a diet that was restrictive in sight of my children.

Researchers find that discussions about weight loss and discussions about fat were harmful to children and often lead to eating disorders. Rachel Millner, psychologist and certified eating disorder specialist, said that when parents comment negatively on their bodies, “children listen and hear their own bodies being criticized.”

Although parents do not cause eating disorders, the home environment can be a risk factor, especially when there is a family history of overestimation of appearance. Studies also showed that weight stigma was more likely to lead to weight gain and poor health results, rather than leading to weight loss.

Zoë Bisbing, New York psychotherapist and author of “The ABCs of Body Positivity Parenting“, was not surprised by the pandemic weight gain data, given many months of increased diet and stress associated with reduced activity. She urged to accept weight gain as” a part of your diet. a story of survival, not necessarily a crisis that must be corrected “.

How parents can take better care of the health of their families

Bisbing suggested that parents and other caregivers treat the pandemic pounds as an invitation to learn about the body-positivity, anti-diet and Health at all sizes movements. She encouraged parents to notice their own weight biases and how often they comment, positively or negatively, about height, appearance or food choices. “So stop talking about food and the body,” Bisbing said.

Even if a parent is trying to lose weight, they can protect children from harmful diet messages by modeling balance and moderation by “creating an outlook that they know how to eat a cookie.”

Wendy Sterling, registered dietitian and co-author of “No weight! A Teenager’s Guide to Positive Body Image, Food, and Emotional Wisdom“Said adults shouldn’t panic about gaining weight.” Just display a calm, cool, collected and playful demeanor while maintaining or changing basic healthy habits, “Sterling said.

Parents may wonder if their family is moving regularly and eating consistent, balanced meals. Otherwise, they can make sure that a variety of foods are also available and that a turkey sandwich is as easy to grab as a candy bar.

Sterling avoids parents using sweets as bribes or rewards and endorses an “any food is fine” mindset, rather than categorizing foods as good or bad, healthy or junky. Parents can also teach children – and themselves – to recognize their own hunger meter encourage more intuitive eating.

Brittany Morris, an eating disorder psychotherapist, guides parents in building way of life habits for the whole family. Morris said “to include children in the movement as a joyful part of everyday life and to remember that movement means walking, playing sports, dancing, building in the yard or even cleaning the house.”

Exercise shouldn’t be tied to food intake. “I’m running today to work on yesterday’s dessert” sends a message that the food needs to be compensated. Morris reminds parents to demonstrate to children that height has no indication of a person’s worth or worth. She urged to be “super aware of your relationship with your body and your food, so that you can provide the safest and least critical environment for your children.”


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