Yesterday I listened to Chalene Johnson’s podcast on healthy body image for your family. Some of the stories and statistics of how damaging both the media and family can be on a child’s body image, broke my heart. What disturbed me even more is that I’m often guilty of what she spoke of. “I’m fat,” “My diet starts Monday,” and “I wish my thighs were smaller” are all things that have rolled off my tongue. Luckily, I have already come to the realization that I need to STOP putting myself down like this before my son is old enough to understand. More importantly, I realized for myself that I am certainly not fat. I will never have a thigh gap and clean eating and working out is not a diet. It’s a healthy lifestyle that nourishes the PERFECT body God created just for me, in His image.
There is a flip side to this as well, and it’s even harder for me to write. You might not be the person saying you’re fat or on a diet. In fact, you might be overweight and okay with it. The problem is that this is equally as damaging to your family, especially your children. They are being modeled unhealthy habits as well just to a different extreme. You might think it doesn't matter because it’s your body but, trust me it does because children hear and see everything! It's been proven that children learn their eating habits from their parents. I don't think I'm far off on saying they also learn how to be active from their parents too. So what’s a person to do?
For starters, remove the words fat and diet from your vocabulary! Replace them with unhealthy and healthy. Next, model healthy behaviors to your family through eating clean and regular physical activity. Teach them the importance of taking care of their bodies, not for looks, but for health. Does this mean you can never have a piece of birthday cake or swing through the drive thru when you’re in a hurry on your way home? No, what it means is those things are an occasional treat and not a regular occurrence. Another aspect of modeling healthy behavior is treating food as fuel and not something to fix your emotions or reward your child because they had a good day at school. Lastly, love your family unconditionally! If someone is struggling with either extreme, remind them of how much you love them and that you are willing to help them through it. Remember, we are all made perfect in God’s image which is why we need to take care of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
This picture my husband snapped is a perfect example of modeling health to a child in everyday life. Last night, all my son wanted to do was feed me animal crackers and he was persistent! As much as I didn’t want to eat one because I’m focusing in on clean eating, I did. You know why? Because it made him happy that he was sharing and mommy was playing along. Had he been older, I would have said, “Mommy’s tummy is full, but thank you.” Think how much more of a healthy image that creates versus, “Mom’s on a diet and can’t eat animal crackers.”