I was watching one of the morning news shows and then one of the evening new shows and they both did a segment on little girls who think they are fat. I watched intently because I was a little girl who was bigger than the rest of her classmates, but I also watched because my boys most likely are affected too.
In the news story yesterday, they showed pictures to a group of little girls and asked them if the person in the picture looked good or was too big. The words chubby tummy, fat, and big were used and it broke my heart. They were learning this from society and their parents and I am pretty sure my kids may think the same things. Then, they asked the girls why you should eat well. One little girl said so that her daddy could carry her, another didn’t want to be fat, and another said healthy, just to name a few of their comments.
When I was younger, I was about 4 inches taller than everyone else in class and I was muscular, not fat but bigger than the rest. There was no way I could wear skinny jeans and I believed I was fat. This plagued me from about fourth grade on, and still to this day I fight my weight and body image. The funny thing is, I am about the same size I was in high school now. A little leaner and fitter, but still the same size. And I get many compliments on how good I look, but laugh because I just needed time to grow into my muscular body. And finally at age 34, my 18-year-old body is accepted.
As hard as I try to put the health message in my kids’ brains, I still slip up. I am always watching what I eat and going to the gym so I don’t get fat. I don’t mention enough that I am doing it to be healthy. In my defense, my three year old will ask which foods are good for his heart (but he only does this because our friend just had quintuple-bypass surgery). But, my three year old is also a big kid who gets a ton of comments on how much he weighs when someone picks him up or that his legs are like tree trunks. I am always very defensive saying that he is healthy and strong, but in the back of my mind I know they are calling him fat. My oldest loves the fact that he has muscles, but I am certain that both of my kids have used the word fat. In all truthfulness, I am quite certain that a few times my oldest has guilted me into the gym telling me that I don’t want to be fat. FAT FAT FAT, the word is everywhere and from here on out it will banned in my house.
Instead I think we need to focus on raising a healthy generation that will have a decrease in diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and who will reduce the child obesity epidemic. Not fat versus skinny. It’s up to parents and guardians to change this, not schools and the government. So, mamas the ball is in your court, let’s make a healthy generation and set examples while we go. Here are 6 tips on setting healthy standards for your kids:
1. Don’t mention fat or thin when going to the gym, focus on healthy hearts reducing risk of disease and living to see them grow up.
2. Don’t use the word diet, instead you are choosing to eat healthy and fuel your body with good food and nutrients.
3. If your child does judge or label a child as fat, mention to them that there are all different body types and just because one doesn’t look like another, they can still be considered healthy. Also, mention that it is not kind to label the child as fat or skinny.
4. Focus on what activities your kids can do, not what they can’t do and set goals. Failure is not a bad thing when you use it as a teaching tool.
5. Focus on positives if you are trying to get healthier or help your child get healthier and set goals.
6. Make healthy a family affair.
I hope this helps and remember it’s your race, your pace and your journey.