Wednesday Wisdom Tip: What is the Right Way to Talk about Weight…With Your Kids

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How do you think is the right way to talk to your kids about weight?

This is both a tricky and scary question since according to data released by the Keep It Real campaign, approximately 80 percent of all 10-year-old girls have dieted at least once in their lives.

Do you find that statistic concerning? It breaks my heart. It tells me way too many girls (and boys too) are soaking in all the ads and social media hype on body imagine. They are not comfortable in their own skin because their skin doesn’t look like the cropped, topped and photoshopped images they see plastered on the magazine covers in the grocery store aisle.

But what if your child really does have a weight issue? You see them consuming more than they need and your mom heart fears they are setting themselves up for a pattern that will last a lifetime?

When or how do you talk to your child about weight?

I loved the advice I recently read in CookingLight in their June 2015 magazine:

“…the best way to talk to your child about weight: Don’t mention it. At all. Ever.” according to Jerica Berge, PhD at University of Minnesota Twin Cities.

“When parents focus on weight with comments…that language was actually associated with a higher rate of obesity.” says Berge.

I know we have all experienced times when we have been concerned about the foods our children are consuming. When I quit homeschooling and my kids went to public school, it was hard for me not to freak out at all the unhealthy choices they could make every day. The loss of control scared me. In fact, I let the fear I had compel me to I put a hold on their lunch accounts so they couldn’t get anything sugar related. Period. I’m not so sure that was the best thing I could have done for my kids. (Boy, I sure do a lot of admitting of failure on this blog!)

Berge goes on to say, “When a child’s parents encourage him or her to diet, that child was at higher risk for binge-eating, low self-esteem, and, in the case of overweight kids, depression. Diet talk from dads was particularly damaging and was linked to both weight gain and eating disorders.”

Oh how I wished I had read this when my kids were younger! I was the mom who hid the sugary treats from my kids (as if they didn’t know where I kept them). Honestly, I also hid them from myself. You know the old:  “out of sight out of mind” type of thing. I believe my behavior communicated that eating sugary treats is bad, therefore, if you eat them, you better hide it.

As my kids got older, I did get wiser. We have begun eating very healthy food, which is not only good for our bodies, but good for our outlook on food as well.

What do you think? Do you agree with Dr. Berge? How do you handle food issues and weight discussions in your home?

Tomorrow let’s talk about: the “why” behind kids’ choice to diet.

The winner of the “How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird” prize pack is Dot who posted at 10:11 a.m. on 5/29. Congratulations, Dot! Please send your full name and address to Amy@howtoloveyourneighbor.com and she’ll get it right out to you. Thank you so much, Amy!

Lynn

7 Comments

  1. I have talked with my girls (for clarification, I have no boys, so I’m not singling anyone out) a little about weight issues, but I don’t dwell on it. If I see that one of them is in a long trend of making unhealthy choices, I will talk to her and gently remind her that we are to honor the Lord in our choices and to try to look out for her health. Since I have struggled with my weight most of my life, I can point to that and say something like, “The choices you make and habits you develop as young people can, and often will, affect the rest of your life. I would like to see you learn from my mistakes and remember that moderation and healthy food choices and an active lifestyle are key to taking care of your physical health just as you need nourishment from God’s Word and moderation in the things of this world in order to have good spiritual health.” Then, I will let it go and pray the Lord will help her make good choices. I will also try to keep from having a lot of unhealthy foods in the house. There are some, from time to time, otherwise, there are no choices to make and because I don’t want them to have the love-hate relationship with food that so many I have seen have. We occasionally have splurges of junk food, but try to make most of our food choices on the healthier side…..I hope that makes sense…….Overall, I have been trying to gently encourage my family toward a healthy lifestyle, mainly by trying to set a good example. The emphasis is always on health and, if a girl has a concern, I point out to her that each of us is built differently and it is important that we try not to compare our bodies with someone else’s, especially those you see in the media because they are not realistic body-types. ……………..Sheri

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      I love this, Sheri! My daughter, Mariah and I, made dinner together last night (oh-so-yummy vegetable spring rolls with Asian soup!). I asked her about her childhood. She said we modeled how to eat well and exercising while keeping away from discussions on weight itself.

      Food is part of our culture – the good and the bad. We have it at our celebrations as well as using it for comfort. I want to have the right mind set about the gift God has given us in food as live that out in front of my family as well. Boy, oh boy, do I need God’s help to do that because Dairy Queen likes to call my name way too often!

      1. Indeed, Lynn! I understand fully, and my weaknesses extend far beyond ice cream, I can assure you! (Pizza, french fries, potato chips and their friends, chocolate, pie all join with the ice cream in attacking my defenses! 😉 ) Between family, friends, and church gatherings, we have many picnics and other food-centered activities. Thankfully, some of them offer the opportunities for much physical activity, too, which is great. Knowing those games and all are coming up encourage you to not eat too much because it’s not fun to run around or play tug-of-war with an overfull stomach! :S It also helps my girls to focus on doing something with their friends instead of just sitting around eating. I call that a win-win!!

        I hope it helps to know that you are not alone in the struggle. 🙂 There are a lot of us out there who are trying to model balance and a healthy lifestyle and deal with the difficulties of cravings, mindless eating, and well-intentioned family and friends who want to show their love by stuffing you! (That is probably the hardest to manage.) And, sometimes, my girls do an excellent job of modeling for me the right choice to make!

        1. Lynn Cowell says:

          Oh yes! My kids all too well know my weaknesses! In fact, we went on a trip recently and my oldest daughter told me she put the devil in the freezer to hide it (of course it was Oreos, my favorite!!)

  2. This is really good timing, as my daughter just moved home for the summer from her first year in college…you know what they say about the ‘Freshman 15’? Well, Sadly, I think my daughter found it and then some! It breaks my heart, as I can see that it is bothering her, however, I have NOT said one word about it to her, just try to model healthy choices, and exercising, but it is so hard when you see them struggle and you can’t fix it. I try to help her by asking if she wants to go for a walk with me, and she always will, but she is built very different from me, and therefore, carries her weight differently, and I know it will be hard for her to get it off, but I don’t want to offer to help her unless she asks me. I try to talk to her about choices, and at the same time stress that we shouldn’t deprive ourselves. I’m a lifetime member of weight watchers, so this has been a battle for me since I was her age. I would love to suggest she go to WW meetings with me, but don’t want to hurt her feelings by bringing it up! I need to pray that God will give me guidance, and the words to use with her. She had a rough first year of college, and therefore, her being back home has had other challenges, but I feel that her weight is affecting her attitude and outlook on life, but she is too ashamed to admit it, or say that! Goodness, although so very rewarding, being a mamma is so hard sometimes!!

    1. Lynn Cowell says:

      Bobbie – you are being a very wise mom! I especially like that you are waiting for her to bring it up. You know it is on her mind. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you words to encourage her and build her up. Her beauty isn’t based on her weight (although culture tells us it is)! Her beauty comes from her heart. Love on her – I think the conversation to long to have will come!

      1. You are so right, Lynn and Thank you so very much! Your feedback and follow through mean so very much to your readers! You truly are awesome! 🙂

        xoxo

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