Has your teen started paying more attention to calorie counts lately? While a certain level of awareness is a good thing, some girls are feeling the pressure to be thin at a very early age. How can we help our kids get smart about eating right?
Watch a 6-year-old pack a lunch and you’ll
probably have to replace a cookie or six with a sandwich. But fast forward four blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em years, and that same child is suddenly staring suspiciously at the snacks in her lunch box.
“How many calories in this candy bar?” she asks, then shakes her head and removes it. “I want my lunch to be 300 calories total.”
From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction, says that it’s our job as parents to teach–and demonstrate–healthy eating habits for our kids.
Recognize the risks
Even if your child isn’t overtly counting calories, look out for signs that she may have an unhealthy obsession with her weight. “Pay attention to the child who insists upon skipping
breakfastand/or lunch,” cautions Carson, and adds that this includes kids who constantly make excuses at mealtime. “This child may be trying to starve his or her body into a desired shape.”
Encourage good habits
One of the easiest — and best — things you can do for your kids is to model the behaviors you want them to emulate, says Carson. “Build healthy habits for the entire family,” she says. Let
your kids see that food isn’t a reward — for you or for them. “Instead of eating in front of the television, sit down together as a family and review the events of the day over supper.”
any food,” says Carson, who instead suggests simply limiting junk foods. She also says that attempting to control what kids eat is “an impossible task” that may even “encourage binge eating.”
family walks, or getting involved in home repair projects.
Address concerns head-on
If your tween or teen is suddenly counting calories, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. “Becoming knowledgeable about the calories in food is the first step in conscious eating,” says Carson.
You can read labels and analyze nutritional content together.
0 clothing is a fantasy resulting from the work of a makeup artist and a professional photographer,” says Carson, who points out that the image may even be photoshopped. “In real life,” she says,
“the pencil-thin model may be anorexic and could be starving her heart.” Let your kids know that the media promotes messages that are, at times, dangerous, and help her to be more comfortable in
her own skin.