Tuesday, February 26, 2008

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week!

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Here are a few things that adults can do to help the children in their lives.

1. Remember, you're a role model! Think about your own body image. Do your children notice you looking in the mirror sideways at yourself to see how large your stomach is, asking others if you look fat, commenting that you need to lose weight, or constantly trying new diets? The kids in your life might get the message that they, too, need to look perfect. Instead, talk to your kids about how all people come in different sizes, and how nature and genetics can cause people to have different body sizes.
2. Avoid teasing or making lots of negative comments to kids (or even to other adults... remember, your kids are listening!) that may lead them to feel you would love them more if they were different than they are. This includes comments about weight, but also about other things too, such as grades in school, etc. Show the children in your life that you love them just the way they are!
3. Avoid fad diets for yourself, and talk to the kids in your life about why dieting can be dangerous. Stress that it is better to live a healthy lifestyle, and eat plenty of healthy foods, rather than greatly restrict what they eat or follow diets.
4. Encourage activities that will give kids moderate exercise. Encouraging kids to do something they enjoy, like play a sport, ride their bike or skateboard, dance, etc, on a regular basis, may be better than telling a child they need to "exercise." Getting exercise for fun is always wonderful, but when kids start exercising just to lose weight, there is the potential for them to go overboard with it.
5. Similarly, try not to put limits on your children's calorie intakes, unless a doctor has advised you to do this for a specific medical reason. Definitely encourage the children in your life to eat a variety of healthy foods at meals, but do not count calories.
6. Teach the kids in your life about all different types of prejudice. Teach them not to "judge a book by its cover." Model for them how you look at a person's ideas, behaviors, words, etc, instead of just looking at their size, skin color, or clothing.
7. When choosing clothing, wear what you love to wear! Don't choose clothing just because it hides or minimizes your weight, or avoid certain clothing you love. Likewise, make sure you're not doing things like, for instance, refusing to go swimming on a hot day because you think you look bad in a bathing suit. Model for the kids in your life that you are comfortable with your body the way it is, and that they should be comfortable with their bodies as well!
8. Think about the reasons you eat, and encourage the kids in your life to do the same. Do you tend to eat when you are upset, or bored, even though you're not really hungry? Try redirecting yourself (and the children) to other stress-relieving activities instead. Remember that eating healthy foods and drinking lots of water can also help elevate your mood, whereas lots of sugary junk food can make you feel sluggish and even depressed.


william said...

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