Renovate Your Plate Therapist
Most parents want what is best for their children. When parents encourage dieting behaviors for their kids, their intentions are good. They want their children to be healthy, happy, and accepted by others, and have been taught by diet culture to believe that a person can earn these things through being thin. The child learns to judge bodies and tie their worthiness to their appearance. They may feel ashamed about their body, especially as it begins to experience the normal changes (and normal weight gain) that puberty brings. The best-known environmental contributor to the development of eating disorders is the sociocultural idealization of thinness. 62.3% of teenage girls and 28.8% of teenage boys report trying to lose weight. 58.6% of girls and 28.2% of boys are actively dieting. 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives. In a large study of 14- and 15-year-olds, dieting was the most important predictor of developing an eating disorder. Those who dieted moderately were five times more likely to develop an eating disorder, and those who practiced extreme restriction were 18 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than those who did not diet. The National Eating Disorders Association says youth focusing on “clean eating” can be just as dangerous. Children are 242 times more likely to develop an eating disorder than type 2 diabetes. 1 in 4 dieters go on to develop eating disorders. Eating disorders have the highest death rate of any mental illness. Studies show that between 5 and 18% of children and adolescents with eating disorders die as a result. If a person wants what is best for their children, encouraging weight loss is not it. It is dangerous and could be deadly. It also reinforces weight shaming and unhealthy messages about beauty and worthiness. If you want your child to be confident in their body, model this for them. Do not speak negatively of your own body or anyone else’s for that matter. Model a healthy relationship with food. Compliment your kids, not only on what makes them beautiful on the outside, but on their character as well. Teach them to care for and love themselves and their bodies no matter their weight. Create a home environment that celebrates bodies of all shapes and sizes.