How Not To Create An Emotional Issue Around Food with Your Child
Have you talked to your child about her weight, then felt concerned you could be creating an emotional issue around food and body image? How do you prevent this from leading to disordered eating habits?
Maybe an aunt or grandmother mindlessly talked about your child’s weight in front of her?
Or maybe your other child told her sibling she was fat?
The thought of creating this sort of issue for your child feels devastating, yet you genuinely feel concerned about her weight and need a thoughtful approach.
You may have been told to talk to her about good and bad foods or how sweets aren’t good for her. Maybe you’ve taught her about counting calories on a nutrition label.
Talking about body weight and food will often backfire and cause your child to do the opposite of your intention, where they crave more food, overeat and sneak food, when all you want is for your child to have a healthy relationship with food and their body.
I’ve talked with hundreds of families, many who express these same concerns… that’s how I know it may be your concern too.
Here’s what not to do:
Stop all conversation about food labeled as good and bad. In reality, food is food. All foods can be eaten even when concerned about weight. It’s about balance and moderation.
Stop all comments about your child’s body, other than loving comments like “You’re hair looks so cute today” or “I love your new shoes.” Kids quietly feel uncomfortable about body comments. They can feel shame and you may never know it.
Ask caregivers and extended family stop ALL body and food comments. Help create an emotionally safe space for your child.
Stop all talk about your body and weight and model balanced eating habits for your child
Remove the bathroom scale if your child is being weighed.
Here’s what to do:
Less talk is more. Simply begin rebalanced meals and snacks to support a healthy weight
If your child is hiding food for fear of comments or feeling shamed, then without reprimanding her, gently talk about it, then begin incorporating these foods into her snacks and meals. This way the food moves from forbidden to inclusive.
Be mindful of your energy and body language at meal times. Looks that tell your child you don’t approve of their choice will be emotionally tough for your kids.
Seek help and guidance if you need it.
If you found these tips helpful and need expert guidance to help your child or teen lose weight in a family-focused, mindful and achievable way, watch a free parent training video just for you at balancemyplate.com.