Ahh, the holidays. A time to eat, drink and be merry.
And then the New Year. A time to make resolutions, usually resolving to make up for the ways we feel like we “let ourselves go” in the last year.
Meet these kids:
What do all these kids have in common?
Their parents' influence on their eating & exercise habits. Parents' New Year’s Resolutions and their own eating & exercise habits are a key part of the picture that is painted for kids regarding what it means to be healthy. Parents' behaviors shape their children's thoughts & behaviors related to food & their bodies. Kids also pick up on their parents’ attitudes towards their own bodies, which they internalize and apply to themselves.
OF COURSE these parents had the best of intentions and would never dream of causing harm to their children. I’m not trying to blame or shame these parents in any way.
But we cannot ignore an important lesson here: As parents, our behavior has a huge impact on our kids. And so does the way we feel about & treat our bodies.
Imagine for a moment what it might feel like for your kids to hear us say things like, “I’m so fat,” or, “This year, I'm going to lose 10 pounds?”
They probably think, and I know this through accounts of children I work with, I wish my mom could see that she’s fine the way she is. Or they might think, I must be fat too. I better lose some weight.
It's time we faced some hard truths:
Let me be clear. I don’t believe in any way that parents cause eating disorders. But what I do know is that parents have a profound impact on their children & the way they feel about their bodies. And this impact can be positive or it can be negative.
What if. . .
You didn’t set a New Year’s resolution this year?
You made a New Year’s resolution about something that has nothing to do with food, weight, or exercise?
You resolved to say one positive thing about your body each day?
You stopped trying to lose weight & ate intuitively instead?
Your kids grew up learning to love & treasure their bodies?
THESE are ways you can join the REbeL revolution -- by rebelling against the cultural standard of dieting as a New Year’s resolution. Not only will you be better off for it, but so will your kids. We owe it to this next generation & generations to come to help them embrace their bodies so they can focus their energy on making a positive difference in the world.
by Katy Harvey, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD
Katy is a dietitian and eating disorders expert in Kansas City. She is passionate about the work REbeL does to prevent eating disorders and improve body image & self-esteem in youth. For more information about Katy & her work, visit her blog here.
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