Dear Mommas, As a former elementary educator with an advanced degree in reading and language, I am super aware of the influence our words have on our kiddos. What we say, how we say it, how often we say it...all of that is important. Now, I'm not suggesting that we walk on eggshells around our kids so we don't say the wrong thing. But for those areas or topics that are really important to you, considering your speech and energy is important.
For me, instilling a positive body image and relationship with food are one of those super important things. I want my kids to LOVE food, not fear it, and LOVE their bodies for all the good things it can do! Here are a few things we do at home to help with these areas:
- Never talk about calories in food or food causing weight gain. Instead, we talk about how food makes us FEEL. So if they want to enjoy a second donut for example, I might say, "How will your belly feel if you eat another?" Or, "Then you will feel really tired!" Those associations are not only more powerful, but they take the focus off of physical appearance and move it to how our bodies work.
- We use the terms Go, Slow, and Woah to categorize food. This has been SUPER helpful with our children. "Go" foods are those healthy choices like fruits and vegetables that I allow my children to eat anytime. "Slow" foods are those things like cereals, granola bars, breads, pretzels, etc. that are fine in moderation. And then "Woah" foods are pop, cookies, candy, ice cream, etc. that should only be eaten sparingly. I often ask my kids what category certain foods are when we are shopping or preparing the meals. This common language has been very effective for teaching about healthy foods.
- I never comment about how my body, their bodies, other people's bodies LOOK around my children. "I look fat in this," "She has great legs," or "Your belly is pudgy!" never come out of my mouth when they are near. I want my children to find their self-worth from within, and not from hearing opinions of their own or others' appearances.
- When we exercise, we talk about how it makes us FEEL (noticing a trend?). "When you exercise, your brain releases a happy feeling into your body!" or "I exercise when I'm grumpy or tired to feel better" or "Let's reset with some jumping jacks." Notice that I'm not saying, "I need to lose weight" or anything about my physical appearance.
While my kids are not grown yet and I can't say for sure if these tactics will make an impact in their body images as adults, I can say that I am very pleased with their eating habits and their love of movement as children. They value activity, fruits and vegetables, and know that taking care of their bodies is important!
If you are looking to change your health habits in 2017 and bring your children with you, you might be interested in my BRAND NEW Family Wellness Program! We begin on January 9th! Read more about it here.
I hope you have a wonderful Christmas! May your weekend be full of laughter, love, and some great gifts 😉