Let’s say your 8-year-old daughter is overweight. You are a frustrated parent. You would like her to lose some weight and be within the normal range for her age group. Well, now there is a diet book aimed at prepubescent girls, ages 6-12. The book, “Maggie Goes on a Diet,” is self-published by author Paul M. Kramer.
Would you buy this book?
What do you think about encouraging such young girls to start learning the “D” word? Dieting…
There’s a quip on Food52.com about an article featured on Jezebel.com, “New Children’s Book Encourages Young Girls to Diet.” This headline struck me as quite disturbing, but I was intrigued to read more. With the continuing problem of childhood obesity, it’s no wonder that someone has written a diet book dealing with weight, children, and the unhealthy manner in which many of them eat.
But is a diet book the answer for young girls struggling with their weight? Young girls who have yet to grow into their own bodies or have yet to mature, yet to understand what food and eating and feeding yourself to thrive really means? Can dieting even be taught to a 6-year-old?!
I personally do not like this idea at all. My soap box.
But I want to hear what you moms out there think! Please share in the comments!
I think that instead of teaching young girls to restrict what they eat, focus on teaching them about how to eat well and feed their bodies to thrive and grow. The joys of fruits and veggies. The happiness that comes from exercise and using your body and breaking a sweat. Get them involved in cooking. Allow them to bake healthy muffins, toss their own salad, shop at a Farmer’s Market with their parents. Instead of promoting dieting, guilt and self-hate, encourage body love and self esteem.
The last thing you want to do to a young pre-teen girl is give her anxiety about her weight. The truth is, you don’t know if the weight fluctuations are just a part of her growing process. Maybe she will learn to adjust her food and exercise as needed, naturally. I say, encourage healthy eating and cooking. Not dieting.
I always tell my readers when they ask me what I think of diets: “Diets teach you to live to eat. I prefer to eat to live.”
The Other Side. Now I know there is another side to this story. The side where young kids may be eating, quite frankly, a lot of junk food and large portion sizes with no restraint. Teaching restraint can be a positive thing, right? Perhaps. Every child will be different. But instead of teaching restriction at such a young age – again, start by encouraging healthy eating habits. And loving your body no matter what. Teaching these values will encourage self esteem. And self esteem will come in handy as these girls mature into their teenage years.
What do you think?
More on healthy eating: How do we raise girls without eating disorders?