Creating a healthy relationship with food for your child
Many women who are recovering from an eating disorder or still have an eating disorder are very concerned about their children picking up on their behaviors or modeling their eating. Additionally, given the complicated relationship that someone has with food whether they have an eating disorder or are recovered from one, it is challenging to figure out how best to talk about eating and weight with children.
One trap that many people fall into is moralizing food into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories, which can emotionally charge a child’s relationship with food and make it conflictual. It can also create a guilt complex for the child if they were to eat the ‘unhealthy’ or ‘bad’ food. Research supports that creating these value judgments about food and/or placing strong value on weight and shape/specific body size can lead to a lot of negative outcomes for children that continue into adolescence and adulthood. Those outcomes actually include a higher BMI/greater likelihood of a higher weight, as well as dissatisfaction and an inability to self-regulate eating.
Instead, trying to encourage intuitive eating, moderation, and focusing on function in terms of how different foods can help your body are all important. Below is a helpful resource that reframes some weight-related comments into weight-neutral comments.
Claydon, E.A., Zullig, K.J., Lilly, C.L., Zerwas, S.C., Davidov, D.M., Cottrell, L., & White, M.A. (2019). An Exploratory Study on the Intergenerational Transmission of Obesity & Dieting Proneness. Eating and Weight Disorders. 24(1), 97–105. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40519-018-0478-1