Can dieting be your daughter’s death sentence?
Think I am overreacting? Maybe. Or, maybe not. Counting calories or points while exercising for the sole intention of weight loss has serious effects on our children. Consider these ideas:
- A mother dieting teaches her daughter to not trust her body. A girl comes fully equip with her own personal internal dietitian which communicates via hunger and fullness cues. A mom ignoring her own internal dietitian teaches a young girl to do the same. This may give more business to my colleagues yet sets the daughter up for a lifetime membership in the Chronic Dieters Club. Sadly, this club has only a 3-5% success rate after a year yet immense loyalty.
- For many women, dieting is about losing 5 to 10 pounds to fit into skinny jeans and the thin ideal…not about health. From this, weight loss dieting teaches youngsters a big lesson in perfectionism. Dr. Shawn Spurgeon, a previous professor of mine once said: “Perfectionism kills people.” Well said. Perfectionism goes really well with disordered eating practices which can lead to anorexia nervosa: the mental illness with the highest mortality rate.
- Using exercise for the intention of weight loss teaches children exercise exists as a means of punishment or to earn our right to eat. Last time I checked, all humans need to eat for fuel. That makes eating a right not a privilege to be earned. Instead of hiking or biking for fun with friends, a girl then learns to get on the hamster wheel at the gym to earn her calories for dinner.
A mother who accepts her body in the present and learns to eat mindfully according to hunger/fullness cues gives her daughter one of the greatest gifts: food and exercise empowerment and freedom.