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Why Trash Talking Your Body is a No-No

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Far too often, women stand in front of their bedroom mirrors and criticize their bodies, saying things such as, “My thighs look huge in these pants, I need to eat less” or “Ugh, I hate my belly”. Not only do these comments hurt your own self-esteem but they can also influence your children, who may be listening to you when you least expect it.

Children who hear their parents speak negatively about their bodies and who observe disordered eating patterns in their parents, may be affected in the future. In fact, research is beginning to show that children are dissatisfied with their bodies at a younger age, which can lead to increased risk of low self-esteem, depression, self-injury, suicide and substance abuse.

Some statistics:

  • Ÿ Only 5% of American women naturally have the “ideal body type” shown in advertisements
  • Ÿ 42% of 1st to 3rd grade girls want to be thinner
  • Ÿ 81% of 10 yr olds are afraid of being fat
  • Ÿ Another study showed that 63.2% of 13 year old girls are afraid of gaining weight and are  avoiding fatty foods and restricting intake as a result
  • ŸOver 1/2 of teenage girls and nearly 1/3 of teenage boys use unhealthy behaviors, such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting and taking laxatives, to lose weight

Seeing parents worry over their own bodies may lead kids to become unsatisfied with the way they look. Focus on making healthy food and fitness choices by discussing a stronger heart, more energy and lowering risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease instead of squeezing into a smaller dress size. Teaching children to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, rather than focusing on body image and diet plans, can help them be more satisfied with their bodies. Work on embracing a healthier body image today so you and your kids can be stronger emotionally and physically tomorrow.

Test Your Knowledge:

What should you never say about your body?

  1. “I’m going to eat healthier today”
  2. “I plan on working out today to practice for the marathon”
  3. “I can’t believe I have such a big behind”

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About the Author

Rachel is a registered dietitian with a master's of science in nutrition. She is currently working as a clinical dietitian at a hospital in New York, mainly covering GI/bariatric surgery and pediatrics.

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