Kids are not born thinking about carbs or clean plates. Kids love their bodies and what their bodies can do. They love to move because bodies are made to move. Kids eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. Kids feel proud because they exist. It is that simple.
But kids will and do receive negative messages from all over. We live in a culture that floods us daily with messages of impossibly thin, unrealistically strong, and dangerously perfect. And it comes at a tremendous cost. Engaging in any conversation about diet and weight around kids can set them up to feel shame or guilt about the food they eat or the way they look. Worse yet, some children may experience depression, anxiety, and a host of other mental health implications from obsessing over their food and weight. For some, it could even be the first steps towards disordered eating.
We want it to be different for all kids. We have the important role of helping the kids we influence navigate these challenging messages by learning what voices to listen to and which to disregard. As adults, we want to protect and nourish the health and positive self-concept kids are born with, because the alternative has devastating consequences.
Decades of research repeatedly points to the incredible influence that adults have on children’s body image, relationship with food, and their overall physical and mental health. At WithAll, we want all adults to know the profound influence our words have in the lives of the kids that look to us as role models. We also want all adults to have at their fingertips the basic information and simple, immediately actionable guidance that will protect kids’ mental and physical health.
WithAll’s What to Say initiative provides free resources to help adults talk about food, body, and exercise with kids in ways that support their health and well-being. We encourage adults to pledge to stop talking about diet and weight to and around kids because dieting and body/weight dissatisfaction can lead to a host of mental health concerns, and are the top two predictors of children and teens developing eating disorders.
WithAll is working to create a new reality built on health and the ability to heal, to recover our very selves.
With all, with you, we will.