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Mar 26 2019

March is National Nutrition Month!

Welcome to March! Did you know that March is National Nutrition Month?

Nutrition education has come a long way since we were growing up! Just take a couple of minutes to think about some of the food rules you learned as a teenager, or maybe even as a child. Carbs are bad? No eating after 4 pm? Be sure to clean your whole plate? How many fad diets did you try as a teenager, or even now as an adult?

Nutrition is a tricky business with a lot of misinformation floating around on the internet. During National Nutrition Month, we’ve decided it’s time to get educated and help crush some of those false claims being made on social media. We owe it to our children to get it right.

Anorexia nervosa is a life-threatening disorder due to the effects of weight loss and starvation on the body and the brain. It has the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric disorder. 

Did you know that putting children or teenagers on a diet and monitoring their food intake creates an environment of food scarcity, which can result in a lifelong struggle with food? It can lead to a lifetime of eating disordered behavior, including anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, or binge eating disorder.

If you’re worried about a child’s weight, the best thing you can do is teach positive reinforcement and healthy habits instead of focusing on changing your child’s diet and body. Human brains are wired to become more and more fixated on food the more we diet. The best way to prevent childhood obesity is to practice intuitive eating and to allow your child to make their own healthy food choices. We are born knowing how to eat wisely. Letting your child make their own nutrition choices can actually work in their favor.

Meal times should be about enjoyment, family time, and nutrition. Encourage your children to eat foods that make their bodies feel good. When a parent makes a comment like, “This is going to go straight to my thighs!” or “I can’t believe I ate all of that; I’m so bad today!” it only reinforces that food can be negative or positive, and reinforces diet culture.

As parents, we also need to be models of body positivity for our children. If you complain about your own body or criticize the bodies of others, your children are going to hear it and soak it up like the little sponges they are. This includes talk like, "Wow, she's gained a lot of weight since the last time I saw her!" or "I can't believe how much you ate at lunch!" or even, "Wow, I hate how my butt looks in these pants today!" Take some time to really notice how many times a day you comment on your body or the bodies of others. If you compliment others on their bodies, try switching to a compliment about their personality. "Wow,  you really nailed that presentation today!" or "Your laugh is so contagious and makes me happy!" are both great examples of compliments that don't focus on bodies. If you can learn to accept, appreciate, and love your own body, your children will learn to do the same. Hate is something we learn, but so is self-love.

As parents, we tend to want to plan for the future, including our meals. When we have a busy lifestyle, it’s easy to get caught up in the week. Plan ahead by buying healthy snacks that you can grab and go! Encourage snacking because it promotes a healthy metabolism, cuts down on fast food stops, and saves money.

Another way to encourage healthy meal habits is by cooking meals together as a family. Eating at home is one of the easiest ways to celebrate National Nutrition Month! When your whole family gets involved with planning the menu, preparing the meal, and enjoying it together, the nutrition cycle comes full circle. Cooking a healthy meal together can nourish your bodies and feed your soul!

For more ideas on how to include intuitive eating habits this month click HERE!

For more ideas about modeling a healthy body image click HERE! or HERE! or HERE!

For more eating disorder information click HERE! or HERE!

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder and needs help, click HERE!


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