March is National Nutrition Month, when the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reminds everyone to return to the basics of healthy eating. It is also the time of year when the Academy celebrates expertise of registered dietitian nutritionists as the food and nutrition experts.
The desire to be thin is reaching school-aged children, as girls as young as 6 years old express concerns about their body image and gaining weight.
In reality, no healthy child should be overly focused on her weight and neither should her parents. Weight loss can interfere with a child's growth and lead to other problems such as eating disorders.
While media images influence children's behavior, kids' most significant role models are their parents. Be a positive influence on your child's mind and body alike.
- Do not place emphasis on weight or body size. Instead, strive for a positive eating relationship with your child that includes healthful habits.
- Refrain from making negative comments about your own weight, body shape or size — or about the weight, shape or size of others.
- Don't pressure your child to conform to another person's body size or shape.
- Set a good example for children in the way you manage your own weight and how you feel about your own body. Skip the lure of fad dieting yourself.
- Encourage your child to engage in daily physical activity to build muscles and coordination.
- Help your child develop the social skills, self-confidence and self-esteem that can lead to a healthy relationship with food.