How to help your child build a healthy relationship to food.

Why is it harmful for my child to diet?

Diets just don’t work. They do not teach your child how to build a healthy relationship to food. Lifestyle changes are needed to make any permanent changes. The long term effects of dieting for children are detrimental.

Once the diet is over your child will likely revert back to old behaviours and with most diets the weight will likely be regained. If dieting is extreme, it may result in muscle loss. In addition, a child may lose touch with their natural hunger and fullness cues. Dieting can also result in reduced self-esteem if a child is not successful at permanent weight loss.

What should I do if my child wants to diet?

  • As a parent you have control over what, when and where food is offered in your home. Start by cooking healthier meals and limiting visits to fast food restaurants. Pack your child a healthy lunch. You may decide to cut back on certain foods, especially sugary beverages and processed foods.
  • Parents play a very important role in their child’s weight and body image. Are you doing everything you can?
  • Make healthy eating a goal for every member of the family. Establishing a healthy relationship to food is a life-long journey. Involve everyone. These healthy habits will follow them for a lifetime.
  • Be a positive role model. The messages you send your child through your actions are very powerful. Also be aware of any negative comments you make about your own body or your child's.
  • Eat meals together. In a busy schedule this may seem challenging but the benefits of better nutrition, better school performance and more social adjustment for your child are worth the effort you put in to make a schedule happen.
  • Let your child decide how much to eat. They need to feel in control. Let them choose among a variety of healthy food options, from childhood to their teenage years.
  • If you have concerns about your child’s eating or body weight, consult with a registered dietitian at HealthLink BC.

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