How much of parental eating habits do children adopt without our wanting them to? Does the risk of the child having an eating disorder increase if one parent suffers from it or at least shows abnormal eating habits?
That says the pediatrician Dr. medical Nadine McGowan
Almost every woman has gone on a diet at least once, more often than not, in her life. Quite a few have a permanently disturbed relationship with food – not necessarily to the extent that it falls under the diagnosis “eating disorder”, but in such a way that eating happens irregularly, sometimes uncontrolled or very strictly regulated. That may not be good for the mother, but it doesn’t matter for the child – extra cooking is done for the offspring. Or?
One in four girls under the age of ten has been on a diet at some point
The numbers for eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia are clear – they continue to rise. Even among girls under the age of ten, a quarter has gone on a diet. In the media, not only we adults but also children are confronted with body images that are supposed to represent the ideal and are at the same time unrealistic and unhealthy. You can hardly resist it.
Children learn about their parents’ eating habits
Children take on more of our roles than we would like. A problematic attitude on the part of the parents to food or a distorted body image is very well registered by the child and often unconsciously adopted. It is not for nothing that the children of mothers with eating disorders have an increased risk of developing the same disease – and this only rarely has anything to do with heredity, but rather with an early formation of a problematic relationship with food. Of course, as a mother or father, you can lose a few pounds if you no longer feel well. The opposite, obesity, is not desirable either, and there too the children “learn” from their parents – usually not just one person in the family is overweight, but everyone.
Be a good role model – also when it comes to eating
Parents should always be aware that they are role models for their children. Good, balanced food and a sensible attitude towards it are important to keep the body and soul healthy. Not only for children but also for adults.
So what is important? Live a healthy diet. Everything is allowed, of course also French fries with mayonnaise, if there are more nutritious, lower-calorie foods the next day – it depends on the mixture. I don’t believe in fundamental bans (e.g. “no sugar”).
Strict dietary rules often lead to the food becoming all the more interesting and then secretly consumed in vast quantities. Cook fresh and varied. Let your child participate in the diet – from thinking about what to eat, to shopping and cooking together. Working with food is fun! Eating is something beautiful and pleasurable – nothing to worry about.