Forget playground taunts, occasionally even parents or relatives jump into teasing kids about their weight. Some parents try to change their children by calling them chubby, teasing them with “fatso,” or giving disgusted looks over children’s food choices. Called “fat-shaming” on television and social media websites, it’s a practice no one should participate in.
“The biggest reason people fat shame is because they think it will motivate children to change,” said Malia Cable, a dietician who works with eating disorders.
It doesn’t, she said, and can actually add to the problem. In addition, children recognize very quickly how to gain control and play the “you can’t make me” game.
“Kids internalize fat shaming messages and start to believe they ARE bad, rather than just have unhealthy eating habits,” Cable said. Heaping more hurt on a child already struggling with self-esteem can lead to depression, anxiety and possibly contribute to future eating disorders. This often leads children to food turn to food for comfort.
Kids who like to settle onto the couch and eat salty snacks need encouragement, nutrition experts say, not criticism. Try to to turn children’s attentions to the way they’ll feel after eating better.
Engage your child
- First engage your children in a conversation about what’s eating them.
- Ask if school is ok.
- Are they struggling with friends?
- Are they eating over emotional hurts they can’t express?
- Better yet, get outdoors with your kids and go to the park for some family fun.
Focus on what’s important to kids
- Find out what’s important to your child.
- Do they want to run faster? Have more energy? Have skin and hair that looks good?
- Parents can then point out how healthy food and proper hydration makes a body stronger, faster and have more energy, and a properly hydrated body allows hair and skin to look their best.
Keep health choices around
- Keep counters stocked with colorful fruits and vegetable to make healthy snacking easier.
- Avoid buying foods loaded with salt, sugar or fat.
- Encourage kids to stay hydrated as thirst is often interpreted as hunger. Let ZisBoomBah help you teach proper hydration with our fun-loving characters Bella, Anthony and Carlos through an adventurous hydration program – Click here to see Hydration Activation!
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