I cannot remember a time where food wasn’t at the center of my day. What I’m going to eat, what I can’t eat, how can I stop myself from eating, when will I get to eat again? Just writing all of that floors me because that is literally what I think every day. Every. Day.
I feel like this needs to change now, especially because I have children. More specifically, I have two girls, and I don’t want them to pick up my poor eating habits, my body dysmorphia, or an eating disorder like I had. I don’t want them to hate their bodies.
Here is how I’m trying to raise them with positive body image.
Our bodies can do hard things. WE can do hard things. It’s important to me that exercise not be seen as a punishment or form of torture. I want my daughters to see it as a way to care for their bodies.
One of my girls participates in cheer and they both do gymnastics. With these sports, they are able to see how strong they are; how strong their bodies are. My son can do more push-ups than most kids on his football team because he conditions every day with my husband.
By making sports a big part of their lives, they’re able to see the benefits not just mentally, but physically. I’m hoping by starting them young, that fitness will always be a part of their lives. To me, that is half the battle.
Snacks … there is no forbidden fruit … well, food
I try really hard NOT to forbid any foods in our house. When I was younger I had a friend who would come over and raid our candy bowl because her mother wouldn’t allow it at home. I’m trying to avoid that.
If my kids want to have a donut, sure they can have a donut. They can’t eat the entire box of donuts, but one donut is fine. You want a lollipop? Have at it! These are yummy treats, and it’s fine to eat them as long as you don’t overindulge.
I make sure to keep unhealthy snacks out of the house for the most part, but nothing is really off-limits. Because of this, all of my kids love fruits and vegetables. I just wish they had coupons for grapes because those things are expensive!
No one in the house is allowed to say something negative about someone else’s body. On top of that, no one is allowed to say anything negative about their own body.
Negative thoughts cross my mind a few times every day, but I’m careful to not say them in front of my kids. I want them to see their bodies as the machines they are that need fuel, nourishment, and can do powerful things.
If you speak something, you (and they) will start to believe it. Let’s not raise kids that grow up with a distaste for a body they haven’t even gotten to know yet.
No matter how close or how far our bodies are from what we want them to be, our bodies deserve love. What you don’t love, you won’t respect and take care of. No matter what, I want my kids to take care of their bodies. I want them to nourish their bodies with all the good stuff, and treat it with some of the not so good. (Swiss roll anyone?)
Above all, I want my children to love their bodies. But I can’t teach them any of these things if I don’t practice them myself. That goes for you too!