In this episode:
At the time of the recording, WW, formerly known as Weight Watchers, had just launched an app called Kurbo to help kids aged 8-18 lose weight. We talk about the damage that can cause kids and how dieting at any age does not work in the long term and actually increases negative health outcomes. We talk about the science behind this and how our bodies are created to notice fewer calories and slow metabolism to ensure survival. Dr. Gaudiani talks about how dieting is almost universally harmful.
She talks about our culture of thin privilege and how it can contribute to good parents compromising their kids' health by restricting food and shaming kids about their bodies. Like dieting, shaming people does not work and tends to cause the opposite effect of increasing desire for forbidden foods. We talk about instances with our own kids and how we have managed to navigate this culture of the thin ideal within our own lives.
The main point we discuss about helping your teen create a positive body image is by creating a home environment that does not have body stigma. That looks like talking kindly about food and how delicious it can be and enjoying it. It looks like saying kind things about our own body and how it serves us and how I can celebrate with it. It looks like intervening when negative body talk occurs with things like you are perfect just as you are. The second point discussed is if you have a child who lives in a larger body, creating safety in that body by buying comfortable clothes and normalizing body variety.
Body shape and size is not based on individual work ethic as it is often portrayed but rather is based on a complex interweave of genetics, systems, and access to food. As parents, we set our kids up for health by creating homes that allow for emotional expression and thus can minimize leaning on food to manage feelings. We can help our children get access to joyful movement to increase health outcomes. Research suggests that cardio fitness is much more closely tied to longevity than weight or BMI, and those are outdated ways of measuring health.
As we wrap up our conversation, we talk about how to best support ourselves as parents who are raising children in a fatphobic world and how to not only create safety for our kids but also how to heal our own history with our body and food in an effort to break generational cycles of diet culture.