Fit vs. Fiction's Blog

Taking the FEAR out of FOOD!

Believe it or not, recent studies show that boys and girls as young as 7 years old are suffering from Body Image and eating disorder issues. More and more kids are struggling to live up to the unrealistic images they see in the media and are willing to put their lives at risk for what they think is the ideal physique.

The Fear of getting FAT is the #1 Fear of teenage girls

80% of 10year olds hate their bodies

25% of 7 year olds have already tried dieting

86% of people develop eating disorders before the age of 20

More than 10% of teenage girls report binge eating at least once a week

Eating Disorders in kids under 12 years old rose 119% over the past 9 years

Kids who diet are 324% MORE likely to become obese than those who don’t

I have dedicated myself to changing the way we see and treat ourselves when it comes to body image and I’ve come to realize how much fear comes into play when we talk about food. It seems that every diet plan and program is telling us what NOT to eat instead of explaining all the good things we could be eating. I’m not a fan of putting food in categories of “good” and “bad” and think that both demonizing and glorifying food is a bad idea, since it ends up attaching way too much emotion to it. Food should be enjoyed and respected, but definitely not feared.

With all of the focus being put on the issue of childhood obesity these days, we are inadvertently creating a new problem with eating disorders. Kids are so terrified of becoming “fat” that they are becoming overly critical and obsessive over ever single piece of food they put in their mouths. I hear from parents every day, with stories of how their once healthy and happy son or daughter has become completely stressed about gaining weight.

Let’s take a closer look at the dreaded F-Word: FAT

What is it anyway? Fat is actually an essential nutrient used for fuel and storing energy. It acts as a cushion to protect our organs and helps keep our skin clear and hairy shiny. When we think of it like that, it doesn’t sound so scary, yet it has become the thing that adolescents fear more than anything else in the world. This irrational fear is keeping our kids from eating diets that are balanced and full of variety. The answer is to replace the fear with another F-word, this one being FACTS.

We need to replace humiliation with EDUCATION. Instead of scaring our kids away from “bad” foods, let’s teach them about all the great choices they have at their disposal. It’s easy to simply remove unhealthy foods from school vending machines, but without education around it, all kids learn is that those foods are bad because they will make them fat. A better idea would be to replace unhealthy foods with a variety of healthier ones and EXPLAIN what these healthier choices are doing to keep their bodies strong. We need to take the emphasis OFF weight and put it towards HEALTH instead.

FAT doesn’t need to be feared, just understood. Many people know that there are healthy fats to be enjoyed as well as unhealthy ones that need to be avoided like Saturated and Transfats; but most kids are not so aware.

My suggestion is to worry less about taking foods OUT of your kitchen and concentrate more on all the incredible foods you can bring IN. While we do NOT want food to become the focal point of all our conversations, there are a lot of fun things we can do to help kids understand the benefits of a body that’s being cared for with a balanced diet and active lifestyle.

  1. Try introducing a NEW food every week. It could be an exotic fruit or interesting grain you’ve heard of but never brought home. Have your kids take turns coming up with new foods to try.
  2. Cook with your kids. Everything tastes better when you’ve had a hand in making it yourself. This is another way of promoting POSITIVE feelings around food.
  3. When possible, eat meals together. Family meals are more about family than food which helps keep things in perspective.

The message here is that with all the diet companies inundating us with advice on how to lose weight and fit into our skinny jeans, it’s important to remember what being healthy truly means and that truly healthy bodies come in ALL shapes and sizes. Remember, life isn’t about losing weight, it’s about gaining health.

Self-worth should not be measured in pounds!




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