What are we really telling our daughters?

My client’s paediatrician told her 12 year old daughter
That her weight is on the upper limit of normal,
So she must reduce her carbs, fats, and calories
In order to be healthy.

My client thought this was helpful –
She’s been telling her daughter the same thing,
And she’s hoping her daughter will pay more attention
To the paediatrician than she has to her mother.

In other words, this girl knows what she “should” be eating.
She knows the difference between nutritious foods and non-nutritious foods.
She’s been told about portion size, choosing veggies over rice etc.

Once she knows this, it is of no benefit to repeat it.
In fact, it could harm her.

Just like us adult dieters.
We could all write a book on nutrition.

Being told how, what and when to eat over and over,
By our dieticians, physicians, best friends, mothers, sisters, spouses and  nutritionists
Does not make us any more likely to do it.

Worse, it often makes us feel shame, guilt and self-doubt.
Three emotions that are very likely to send us slinking straight to the pantry.

Wanna know what that daughter really heard from her paediatrician
And her mother before that?
Research suggests that she interpreted the message as:
“You’re getting fat”.
“You need to eat less so you don’t get fat”.
AND possibly
“You’re worth more when you’re thin”
“You’ll be happier if you’re thin”
AND
“I want you to be thin”.

If that girl is active, social, productive and well-adjusted,
then she IS healthy.

Research suggests that in order to raise healthy girls (emotionally and physically)
What they need to hear from us is:
“You are perfect exactly as you are”
“Your worth is not determined by your weight”.

The question is:
As the parent, can you say this
And mean it?

If not, then you need to do your work
On your beliefs
About weight.
About worth.
About health.

And until then
Be very clear that what you say to your daughter
Must be what you mean
Because she will know if you’re not telling the truth.

Our kids know the difference between the message
“I want you to be healthy”
And
“I want you to be thin”.
If you say ‘healthy’ and you mean ‘thin’ she’ll know.

This may cause her to feel shame, guilt and self-doubt
Three emotions that may cause her to sneak straight to the refrigerator.
Which may lead to the exact result you are afraid of.

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About Forever Free with Bev Aron, Certified Weight Loss Coach

I work with emotional eaters who desperately want relief from emotional eating, but can't seem to do it on their own. They know they need to eat less and move more, but can't figure out why they aren't doing it. My specialty is showing them the why and the how. I also work with parents who are worried about their children's weight. I help those parents encourage their children to have a healthy body image and a healthy relationship with food.
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