I was sitting at my computer doing some work this morning while everyone else in the house slept. I was listening to the radio and a Weight Watchers advert came on. The advert involved a woman talking about the difference losing weight through Weight Watchers had made to her life and she said that it had allowed her to become closer to her daughter.
I did a double take. Really? In what way does losing weight using a restricted diet allow you to become closer to someone? Are we all supposed to feel so bad about ourselves that losing weight allows us to connect to our kids?
I was surprised that they would choose that as a message to promote their product. I was talking about it on Twitter and this comment from a friend made me smile
only reason should be because less fat means you can get your arms further around her when you hug
I know many people resolve to lose weight in a new year especially after the over-indulgence at Christmas. And I know that all the diet companies go all out on their marketing to capitalise on that. But really? do they have to promote this image between being good enough and being overweight? They are as bad as the people who use size zero models for clothes as far as I am concerned.
The way to be closer to your kids is to lead by example.
In this house we don’t talk about appearances, weight, clothes size etc. My daughter is 5 and has a natural healthy relationship with food as all kids do until adults try and influence them. I may not be 100% happy with my size yet but that has not bearing on who I am as a person. I teach my daughter not to judge based on appearance. In fact I spend a lot of time teaching her not to judge at all and to understand we are all different and we all have our stuff.
She has started referring to people as having a fat belly – clearly people at school are using that language. I tell her not to refer to people based on how they look. So she asked “Mummy, what does fat mean?”
“It means different things to different people” I explained “some people might get upset by the word fat and you wouldn’t want to upset someone would you?”
“No” she replies
“So because it might upset someone and you never know it’s better not to ever call anyone fat isn’t it?” I say
My daughter knows I help people for a leaving and says she wants to do that when she grows up. She knows to be kind and to be careful not to upset people.
I try, as much as possible, to lead by example.
In day to day practice we don’t talk about content of food by the labels or nutritional content but instead talk about growing food and treat food. If she’s hungry or it’s mealtime she needs to eat growing food. If she’s eaten enough growing food then it’s ok to have some treat food.
A while back I was driving back from Aviemore and hadn’t planned for lunch. This was bad of me because my daughter needs a wheat free diet so it is not easy to grab something. All I had was chocolates so when daughter complained of being hungry I offered her them “They won’t stop me being hungry” she said. It made me smile because that’s exactly what I wanted her to learn.
We also praise her for knowing when she’s had enough. Kids listen to their bodies. They eat when they are hungry and don’t when they are not. It is adult that enforce rules about when you should eat and how much etc. When my daughter has eaten enough and chooses to leave food because she’s full we tell her “well done you”. And she knows, of course, that unless she’s eaten enough growing food she won’t get treat food.
How we look does not define who we are. Changing how you look may make you feel better in yourself but it also may not. It is unethical, in my opinion, to market a diet by saying it will improve your self esteem.