Flipping the calendar provides many of us with the motivation to reinvent ourselves, which often manifests in the form of a New Year’s resolution. While motivations may be well-intentioned, attempts to change weight or body size could lead to a negative body image and the adoption of unhealthy weight loss regimens. Some people who implement weight-loss or body-focused resolutions may recognize the dangers associated with doing so – including fad diets, over-exercise and in some cases, the development of an eating disorder – most fail to acknowledge the negative impact these resolutions can have on their children.
According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), more than half of teenage girls and a third of teenage boys rely on unhealthy weight control behaviors. These behaviors are only amplified at the start of the new year with the overwhelming presence of weight-loss themed resolutions.
Thomson Reuters and National Public Radio confirmed the popularity of these types of resolutions with a recent poll, which found that one-third of Americans have made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight in the last five years. The overabundance of weight-loss focused goals in the early months of a new year makes it increasingly important for parents to pursue their resolutions in a healthy manner in order to promote a positive body image and self-concept among their children.
These four strategies can help parents model healthy behaviors to their children in the new year and minimize the risk of children developing disordered eating habits.
1. Minimize dieting habits. Though dieting may be the go-to weight loss regimen, this sort of eating is not practical for children. Rather than giving up certain foods or entire food groups, make New Year’s resolutions that focus on moderation and incorporate healthy, well-balanced meals for the entire family.
2. Make exercise fun. Sighing at the mere mention of the gym is not an effective means of promoting a healthy lifestyle. Get away from stationary workout machines by making a New Year’s resolution to simply get outside more often. Plan a family hike or bike outing or get together with others in the neighborhood to play a game of kickball or volleyball.