My body has changed these past two years, and not necessarily for the better. My cholesterol began rising and my jeans felt too tight, so it was time to do something about it. I decided to go on a diet, something I hadn’t done since right after I had my children. The problem is that I didn’t expect my daughter’s reaction and I hadn’t anticipated how my relationship with food could impact her.
“Mami, why do you need to go on a diet?” she asked. That question alone started an entire conversation about healthy choices. She may be eight, but the last thing I want is for her to absorb my own body image issues, which at this point is many.
Then I realized how all the tweens and teens around me seem to be constantly criticizing themselves and finding something wrong with their bodies. Many just repeat what they’ve heard from their moms. After all, how many of us have said at one point or another that a certain dress makes them look fat? How many of us might spend the summer in a bathing suit but wrapped up in some sort of cover-up because we’re critical of our thighs, tummies, or arms?
I don’t want my daughter to despise her body when she looks at her reflection in the mirror. I want her to just be healthy and happy, not plagued by insecurity. I don’t want her to see food as an enemy. So here’s how I’m trying to balance being on a diet while modeling healthy behavior for my daughter:
1. I’m focusing on making healthier choices rather than “dieting”
Not only does this help me feel less restricted, but it is quite empowering to realize you do have a choice. So instead of saying “I’m on a diet because I’m fat” I say, “I’m making healthier choices.”
2. I avoid saying that I cannot eat something
Instead, I say that it’s not the healthiest option available and I would rather eat something that’s good for my body. That way you stop demonizing certain foods.
3. I try not to weigh myself in front of my daughter
This can create an obsession with body weight that is very unhealthy. Also, kids are very good at perceiving body language and frustration. My daughter started stepping on the scale constantly, although her issue is that she has trouble gaining weight.
Are you aware of how your own body issues might affect your daughter? I’d love to hear your thoughts about dieting and our girls.