FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Food, Weight and Body Concern
Can you think of a concern shared by more females than body image?
It is likely that nothing consumes women and girls more than “Does this look okay?” and “Do these jeans make me look fat?”
Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to a poor body image. Their reality is one of experiencing many physical, cognitive and social changes, all at the same time. Add the influence of media images to the mix and it is no wonder that girls struggle with food, weight and body concerns. What is a parent to do?
Above all, check your messages! How often do you utter the word “diet” or make disparaging remarks about your own body? As parents, our children are keenly aware of what we say and do. YOU play a powerful role in your child’s developing body image. So, 1: Do NOT remark casually about diet or weight. This habit will be incredibly challenging to break given the culture in which we live. It is, however, the single most effective thing that you can do to promote a healthy body image.
Secondly, realize that there are no “good” or “bad” foods. All foods can fit, and we thrive on variety. To see foods as good or bad is a potentially dangerous mindset.
The key is to meet your body’s needs by striking the right balance between food intake and physical activity. Easier said than done!! However, the next time you reach for a snack, stop and ask yourself “Am I physically hungry or am I really wanting something else?” Listening to your body and tuning in to sensations of hunger and satiety is the best way to begin to have a healthy relationship with food. This approach to eating takes conscious effort. It is often referred to as “mindful eating” and can dramatically enhance body image.
Let us know how you fare as you try these suggestions. There is more you can do to promote a healthy body image, but this is THE best place to start.