How should you talk to your kids about weight?
The best answer, according to the experts, is not at all. You may wonder why this is the advice. But, think about it – was it ever fun when your parents talked to you about your weight? Odds are that it wasn’t. Sometimes the things that parents say with the best of intentions can actually cause their children to feel hurt instead of motivated. Jerica Berge, Ph.D. and her colleagues at University of Minnesota Twin Cities say “When parents focused on weight with comments like ‘You’re looking heavy’ or ‘You shouldn’t eat that’, the results actually correlated with a higher rate of obesity. When a parent encouraged a child to diet, those children were at a higher risk for binge-eating, low self-esteem, and in the case of overweight kids, depression. Diet talk from fathers was found to be especially damaging.
So, what can you say to encourage healthy eating habits? Avoid any mention of weight, size or shape. Instead, focus on health, strength and growth. And talk about improving the whole family’s health instead of singling out one individual.
Also, Berge recommends that parents try to invest time in preparing and eating ‘family meals’ together. Serve healthy foods during those meals. Regular family meals, even two to three times per week, have been shown to reduce the risk of weight struggles for kids, even into adulthood.