Teaching your kids to have healthy eating and exercise habits is very important, and doing so at a young age can help you instill habits that will last for their entire lives. However, it can be easy to accidentally “fat shame” your child without even meaning to, which can cause the opposite effect. These are a few tips that can help you focus on teaching your child healthy habits without fat shaming.
Avoid Talking About Weight
It can be easy to put a lot of focus on weight when talking to your child about healthy eating and exercising. However, putting too much of a focus on the numbers on a scale can cause your child to suffer from self-esteem issues and could even contribute to future eating disorders. It’s not even an accurate measure of health! If you’re beginning an exercise program that incorporates healthy diet, aerobic exercise, and resistance training, you’re likely to experience a net gain in weight because your muscle growth will outpace your fat loss.
Perhaps more importantly, overemphasizing weight or waist measurements can warp a child’s body image, leading to eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa. According to Tapestry, this behavioral disorder is characterized by “a distorted body image accompanied by an unwarranted fear of being or becoming overweight.” The danger of contributing this disorder cannot be overstated, because “Anorexia nervosa has the highest mortality rate of all psychiatric disorders.”
Introduce Your Child to Tasty, Healthy Foods
If you lead your child to think of things like diet food and weight loss, then your child might start to see healthy foods as something of a punishment. Instead, focus on introducing your child to tasty yet healthy foods, such as delicious fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables. This can show your child that healthy food is a positive thing, not something that should only be eaten by someone who is looking to lose weight.
Teach Your Child How to Cook
As you might already know, cooking at home is generally a lot healthier than eating out in a restaurant. Getting your child into the kitchen with you can be a whole lot of fun, and it can help them learn skills that can help with healthy eating habits later.
Make Exercise Fun
Exercising is an important part of being healthy, and this is something that you will probably want to teach your child at a young age. However, you don’t have to turn exercise into something that your child will dread. Instead, focus on ways to make exercise fun, such as by playing sports or going on long walks with your kid. For children who don’t enjoy team sports, dance or the martial arts are always a good bet. Then, your child can see that exercise is something to look forward to and enjoy, not something to dread or associate with weight loss.
As you can see, it is possible to teach your child healthy habits without fat shaming him or her. If you follow these tips, you can help your child adopt healthy habits without contributing to self-esteem issues.