It seems like nobody wants a fat child.
I’m scared (more like terrified actually) to write that sentence. I’m trying to be blunt, but I fear people will think I’m insensitive, ignorant, mean. I feel like I have to be blunt, however, because I want to point out the obvious. Sometimes we reframe the discussion and call thin “healthy.” No matter what we call it, though— fat, avoiding fat, curing fat, claiming to accept fat— weight stigma is real. Fat shaming is real.
Especially with our national focus on eliminating childhood obesity.
Teaching children to cope with weight stigma may be the most important lesson some parents teach their kids. This is particularly important now, during the Eating Season.
“Weight is now one of the most frequent reasons kids are teased or bullied,”
“Weight-based teasing in adolescence predicted obesity, and also eating food to cope with emotions.”
—Dr. Rebecca Puhl, a clinical psychologist and one of the lead authors on a policy statement issued jointly by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Obesity Society titled “Stigma Experienced by Children and Adolescents with Obesity” and reported in The New York Times.
Sadly, when it comes to fat shaming, even parents bully their fat children, research shows. Read more.
How people respond to weight bias — fat shaming — matters.
There is so much pressure in our society to be thin. When my child was 3 she worried about being fat. I shared this story last week. I’m afraid that even when parents focus on health, children know their parents really mean fat. This is a tricky topic. The stakes are so high. How do you talk to your kids about their weight?
The findings of a new study by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut shows:
Coping with weight stigma by engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors (like exercise or eating healthy foods) was associated with better health, including greater self-esteem, better physical and psychological wellbeing, and less frequent depressive symptoms.
Responding to weight stigma with negative emotions and maladaptive eating (such as starving, bingeing or purging) were linked with more depressive symptoms, lower self-esteem and worse physical and emotional health, according to the study.
This makes sense. But here’s the rub: Anything you say about exercising and eating right might feel like weight shaming. Unless you start by addressing your child’s feelings. Here’s my motto: Feelings before food.
Talk to your fat child about feelings, not about food. Or even about health.
Of course, you have to talk to different children differently. But here are some ideas.
- How do you feel about your body?
- How do other kids treat you?
- How do you feel when I tell you to slow down at meals?
- How do you feel when I say you can’t have another cookie?
- How do you feel…?
When children feel like parents understand their feelings, their parents become their partners.
Not their critics. And then, after you’ve healed some feelings, you can talk about healthy eating habits.
Here’s more on talking to kids about their weight.
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~
Unwritten blogger rules dictate that during December I’m supposed to write about my favorite sinful recipes or my favorite I-fixed-this-sinful-recipe-by-adding-flax-and-replacing-oil-with-applesauce recipes. Since a Favorite Gift list is also legal, here’s mine from last year went I with my 5 No-Cost Holiday Gifts.