Weight stigma and diet culture will likely continue on, but they do not have to exist in our homes.
As I wrote in a recent article, dieting in kids is really happening…and it has damaging consequences. A diet that seems harmless, even healthy, is highly likely to lead to continued dieting behavior using riskier methods, often leading to disordered eating and eating disorder. Many of the people I see for nutrition counseling are parents, grandparents, or parents-to-be who want a different path for the children in their lives.
The troubled path for many people begins with trying to choose the body they want instead of caring for the body they have. The truth is, all bodies have a genetic blueprint for every bodily feature including weight. In the population as a whole, it’s quite natural to find people of all shapes and sizes. Yet societal appearance ideals, aka beauty standards, have led to a “ranking of bodies - and with that, a ranking of worth” (Burgard, 2019).
What Dr. Burgard is talking about here is weight stigma. None of us wants our children to be the victims of any kind of stigma. So, it’s difficult to fault parents who are trying to find a solution for weight-based teasing of their children and thinking to help with weight loss. For all the reasons described in my recent article, dieting is not the solution.
Leslie Bloch and Zoë Bisbing, New York City-based therapists, set out with an agenda to prevent eating disorders. They believe that parents are not the cause of eating disorder but are able to buffer it through parenting practices and communication methods in their home.
Together Leslie and Zoë created The Full Bloom Project providing resources, blog articles, and interviews with experts on topics from A to Z. What’s the right language to use (because kids – even teens – are always listening and observing)? How do we support our children in growing the way nature intended? How do we normalize the family meal when “families don’t have meals” and “kids don’t eat like that” today? How do we stop the culture of dieting when the prevalent thinking is to shrink the body into one that is socially acceptable?
If you’re interested in research-informed parenting methods to promote self-esteem and positive body image in children, check out The Full Bloom Podcast. With so many podcasts in their library, it’s hard to know where to start! You could start at the very beginning. Or start with the latest one. Or, follow this guide for the hidden gems of 2019.