We all know that talking about your diet and what you eat can get pretty tense and awkward. Especially if it leads into body insecurities or weight-loss. Well, according to research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, it turns out that discussing your diet or weight-loss goals can actually go against what you want to happen.
The study showed that the conversations about weight and body image start young. If you have any body image issues, chances are you can blame your folks. According to the study, when parents talked too much about their own body and weight – both positively and negatively – the children became more likely to indulge in unhealthy activities such as binge eating or excess dieting.
Obesity in adolescents in the United States has quadrupled in the past 30 years. In 2012, 21% of young people between 12 and 19 were obese. Obese teens are more likely to have bone or joint problems, as well as sleep apnea. They are also more likely to develop ‘prediabetes’ which turns into Type 2 diabetes. On top of all this, obese teens are more likely to become obese adults which gives higher risks for diseases such as cancer and stroke.
If you have any body image issues, chances are you can blame your folks.
The AAP recommends not encouraging diets to adolescents, saying ”A 3-year-old may not be worried if she’s a bit overweight, whereas an adolescent may try unhealthy weight-loss methods like fasting or diet pills and end up in a vicious circle of more weight gain.” The authors also advice against commenting on your child’s weight, or even your own weight. Despite how well-intentioned you might be, studies have shown that comments parents make about either their own or their child’s weight are linked to increased risk of the children developing an eating disorder.
Instead, start eating together. This can help improve the nutritional content for the children, as well as actually protecting the kids from binge eating and purging behaviours. Also, try to create a healthy food environment by providing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and water, while keeping things like artificial sweeteners, sugar-sweetened drinks and refined carbs away. This provides a healthy behavioral example and are most effective when the whole family is involved.