“Fat Talk,” Body Image and Eating Disorders

“Fat Talk,” Body Image and Eating Disorders
By Julie Holland Faylor, MHS, CEDS

 

After consuming a high-calorie food, have you ever said “I need to hit the gym now!” or “I know that went straight to my thighs!”

Do you call your comfortable jeans “fat pants”?

When asked how you’re doing, have you ever responded with a quip like, “I’d be better if I didn’t have to squeeze into a bathing suit this weekend!”?

 

At one time or another, we have all been guilty of using disparaging self-talk related to weight, size, or shape. This tendency is so commonplace in today’s culture that there is actually a term for negative body commentary, used by the general public and clinical circles alike: “Fat talk.”

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Whether we say these comments aloud or just in our heads, “fat talk” can have a significant impact on the way we feel about our bodies and ourselves. For most people, disparaging self-talk just makes us feel inadequate or depressed. However, negative body image plays a significant role in the development and maintenance of eating disorders. For individuals that are predisposed to developing an eating disorder (in other words, if eating disorders run in their families), seemingly harmless comments about themselves—or unsolicited comments from others—can contribute to the development of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, or trigger a relapse for those in recovery from these serious illnesses.

 

Because “fat talk” is pervasive in our society and has the potential to impact our—and our young loved ones’—body image and self-worth, it is important that parents understand this phenomenon. Below are five considerations to help combat “fat talk” and cultivate positive body image in our lives and homes:

Be aware. “Fat talk” is everywhere; if you pay attention, you will find that fat jokes and “fat talk” are speckled throughout movies, sitcoms and books, even those geared towards adolescents and young adults. It is the fodder of seemingly every comedian in the world, and it underscores countless ad campaigns touting products and services promising to make us thinner, prettier and more desirable. For women and girls in particular, “fat talk” has become a bonding ritual of sorts—we often connect with others over mutual dissatisfaction with our weight, shape and size. Awareness is the first step in any meaningful behavioral change, so consciously try to identify the ways you and those around you use “fat talk” in your daily lives.

Be kind—to yourself, and to others. Our body weight and shape have nothing to do with who we are as individuals, mothers, daughters, friends, and employees. When you feel the urge to insult yourself related to your body size, shape or weight, instead think about the value you bring to your family, friendships, workplace or community. Also, avoid drawing attention to others’ body and weight insecurities. Our comments may come from a good place—we may think we’re supporting or motivating others with these messages—but we can never know the true impact of our words on others. Err on the side of kindness and make it a practice to not talk about others’ bodies.

Model healthy attitudes and behaviors. The most important thing parents can do to help their children develop a healthy body image is model healthy attitudes and behaviors toward body weight, size and shape. Kids are behavioral sponges—they watch what their parents do, they listen to what they say and they develop their worldview accordingly. Rather than toning down the “fat talk” around your children, try to remove it from your vocabulary altogether. Adults in your life may benefit from this change as well—family members and friends may notice the absence of “fat talk” from your conversations and follow your lead.

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Normalize eating in your home. Our thoughts and behaviors around food and eating are often closely linked to how we feel about our bodies. With that in mind, don’t allow or encourage dieting in your home. Don’t stigmatize foods as “good” or “bad”—all foods are okay in moderation, and the goal should be to consume a diverse, balanced diet with as much real, unprocessed, natural foods as possible. Do help to cultivate the social aspect of meals by turning off the television, putting down cell phones and making conversation with loved ones at the table. Additionally, talk to your children about their meals outside the home—who did they eat with, what did they eat, what did they talk about—to help them think critically about their patterns.

Frame exercise as fun and healthy. “Fat talk” often paints exercise as a punishment for eating too much or the wrong kinds of foods, or as a means to “fix” a perceived body flaw. Be sure to position regular physical activity as a fun and healthy habit for children and adults alike—in fact, it can be even more fun when families get active together. Exercise doesn’t have to involve a treadmill or weights—it can be walking the dog, building a snowman or playing softball with friends, family or colleagues.

 

Let me be clear—“fat talk” can adversely impact body image and self-esteem, which is a contributing factor in the development of eating disorders, but it doesn’t cause an eating disorder. Eating disorders result from a complex interplay of biological, psychological and sociocultural factors. However, it is important to understand the connection between “fat talk,” body image and eating disorders, particularly as it pertains to helping our children develop healthy body image and attitudes toward food, eating and exercise.

Embracing Our Daughters: Supporting Them as They Enter Adolescence

Embracing Our Daughters: Supporting them as they enter adolescence
By Christie Caggiani

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Truly some of the most humbling moments as a professional come from teachable moments as a mother.  I recently had a conversation with a mom, as our nearly teen daughters were getting together for the day.  She was clearly concerned about her child’s blossoming body, and shared that she had told her daughter she was going to buy her a gym membership. That alone gave me pause, however, when my daughter later recounted that they were encouraged to go for a walk to burn off some calories, it shifted me into anger. Fortunately, the girls said they went outside because it was a beautiful evening and they had a lot of fun walking, but I realized that no matter how much I try to teach body positive attitudes, the forces in this world are challenging those messages at every turn.

 

It is critical that as our adolescents’ bodies begin to change, we are a solid, reliable resource and support system for them.  This is a time when they are uncertain about their physical self, how to act, and how to feel, so we as parents are key in letting them know these changes are normal and that they are exactly where they should be in their development. Our role is to help them connect with, listen to, and respond consistently to their body’s signals, whether their body is asking for food, sleep, activity, or a good cry.  Our role is NOT to control how their bodies turn out or interfere with their changing process along the way.

 

One of my favorite books on this topic, Like Mother, Like Daughter by nutritionist Debra Waterhouse, is one I would highly recommend to any female.  Not only does it help us understand what is happening in our daughter’s body, it gives us greater insight into how we can better equip our young women to avoid the traps of weight and food preoccupation.  To quell your fears, and give you some direction, remember the following:


What Society Wants You to Do

What Your Daughter’s Body Naturally Wants to Do (and what we can reinforce)

Mold her body into an aesthetic ideal Find a comfortable weight that is biologically and genetically right for her
Encourage dieting Eat enough food to supply her body with nourishment and fuel
Condition her taste buds Stimulate all of her taste buds and enjoy the taste of sugar starting in infancy, salt starting in toddler years, and fat starting in adolescence.
Feed her low-fat foods Consume enough fat for brain development and physical growth
Feed her by the clock Eat when her body tells her it’s time to eat
Enforce three balanced meals a day Eat small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day
Provide a full-course dinner Eat as much as her body needs at dinner and have a snack at night if she’s hungry

 

Here are some other pointers that may be helpful as you assist your pre-teens and teens in their journey:

  • Just talk.  Share your memories of puberty, and use it as an opportunity to open dialogue.  Ask her if there’s anything she finds confusing, and encourage her to name her emotions.
  • Arm her with resilience to handle insensitive comments from classmates, well-meaning relatives, and friends.
  • Connect openly with other parents and ensure that they provide a similarly positive body attitude environment.
  • Avoid making comments that tell her she will be okay once she grows taller, loses some weight, or changes her body in some way.  She is exactly where she is supposed to be today.
  • Focus on the internal qualities that make up her person – her creativity, compassion, or strength of character.
  • Never, ever talk negatively about your own or anyone else’s body.  Period.
  • Enjoy food with your child.  Let her see you eat, savor, and enjoy meals and snacks.
  • Encourage movement as a way to connect with the body, unload some stress, and have some unstructured fun!  Never encourage exercise as a way to change the body, burn calories or lose weight.

Recommended reading: 

200 Ways to Raise a Girl’s Self-Esteem, by Will Glennon

Embody: Learning to Love your Unique Body, by Connie Sobczak

Like Mother, Like Daughter, by Debra Waterhouse, RD

Eating New Foods

Well, moms and dads, I finally did it. My husband and I had been talking about the boys’ limited intake a.k.a. lack of variety. Last weekend I spent $150.00 on taste-test Sunday, and my boys groaned while carrying on for every food.

 

I worry that my younger son’s smaller stature is due to lack of adequate protein. We continue to expose the kids to more protein, but the pantry always seems to win. On Thanksgiving my dad commented on my sons’ diet and height too.

But I think those words, along with the blog of Dr. Heather McGuire, finally propelled me forward! Because after making the boys cheese and bean quesadillas and watching them pick out every freaking bean, I just did it—I grabbed a bag and filled it with our pantry stock, including the gummy vitamins. The kids liken them to candy.

 

I announced our family mission to eat more foods. “I am not talking about clean food or veggies. I am just talking about eating foods that are not your favorites, eating foods that you may not be in the mood for. I am talking beans and chicken and pasta for Billy.”

So we packed up all packaged snack-like foods. I served the boys chicken parm and eggplant parm for dinner. And you know what, they ate it. Was dinner drawn out? Yes. Was it a wasted meal? No. Five days later, Billy has only skipped one meal. And I have loosened up, being that it is the school week. I still give them their same lunches every day. But breakfast has been different daily, and on Mondays both boys ate a chicken quesadilla, mind you only a quarter of it, plus half of a cheese quesadilla. But I am just happy to see a willingness in them—without all the drama. I don’t want food fights or feelings of deprivation for my kids. I just want a willingness to try foods and eat certain favorite foods just some of the time. So I encourage you, read our stories here, especially Heather’s!

 

May you have happier eating and being days ahead!!

Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN
Laura Cipullo Whole Nutrition
www.LauraCipulloLLC.com
www.MomDishesItOut.com

Help! My Child is a Picky Eater!

Dr. Heather Maguire is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) and the author of the parent training manual, Get Ready… Get Set… Go! It’s Time to Create Behavior Change! As the mother of two young children, she applies her knowledge of behavioral science to everyday parenting. Visit her website www.drheathermaguire.com for more information.

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Help! My Child is a Picky Eater!
By Dr. Heather Maguire

Kids, food, and behavior… Where should I even start? A story from my own childhood comes to mind. When I was a toddler, I decided that the only food I wanted to eat was saltine crackers. Being a stubborn individual even at such a young age, I gave my mother a run for her money. She offered me peanut butter and jelly, but I said, “No!” She put cereal in front of me, but I refused to touch it. At dinnertime I refused to even look at the spaghetti she had made. In situations like this, what’s a parent to do?! Now that I’m a mother myself, I have come to realize that food can be one of the most challenging parts of parenting. As parents, we are charged with caring for the health and wellbeing of our kids, but it is not possible to force children to eat what they do not want to eat. No parent wants his or her children to “starve,” so we are tempted to cave in to our their requests. Recently I overheard a mother explain that her pediatrician recommended letting her toddler snack on whatever he wanted during the day, as long as she supplemented his nutrition with a popular meal replacement beverage. I’m not saying there aren’t cases where extreme measures are warranted, but to me this sounded like a horrible long-term solution to picky eating! Looking through the lens of applied behavior analysis, here are six strategies that have helped me tame the beast of the picky eater in my own home. I hope they will help you, too!

  1. Say goodbye to packaged snacks

You’ve probably heard the old saying, “If they’re hungry, they’ll eat.” This is very simple, but very true! One way to encourage children to eat is to make sure they’re actually hungry when mealtime comes around. This may mean eating less during the periods in between meals. Now I am not suggesting that you cut out snacking all together, but you can control what snacks you offer your children. Personally, I have made the decision to only offer fruits and veggies as snack options in between meals. As opposed to snacks like chips, cookies, and crackers, fresh produce is less likely to curb one’s appetite for more than a short while. I am not saying you have to cut out packaged foods completely, but it may be better to serve these items right after meals or just occasionally as a special treat rather than as snacks.

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  1. Timing is everything

As parents, we often have to be strategic in interactions with our children. If Sofia is feeling under the weather, didn’t sleep well the night before, and had a rough day at school, it is probably not be the right day to offer her a new food or try to get her to eat a food she has previously rejected. Sounds obvious, right? Well, let me share where parents often go wrong. Rather than using this strategy proactively, they use it reactively. Once they place food in front of Sofia and she refuses to try it, then they give her a preferred food. Unfortunately this often results in a pattern of food refusal that can hang around long after the bad day has been forgotten. Therefore, try to prevent food refusal by offering preferred foods on the hard days, but do your best not to cave in once undesired behavior has been displayed.

  1. Dangle the carrot

This is a simple, yet scientifically verified truth that can be applied to several areas of life. In food terms it equates to, “After you eat your vegetables, then you can have dessert.” Now, this does not mean that you need to offer dessert or other junk food to your children on a daily basis. Rather, choose foods that you feel comfortable offering to your child on a consistent basis (e.g., juice, crackers, popcorn, etc.). In order for this to work, there are two key things to keep in mind. First, the food has to be something your child really likes. Second, this strategy will work best if you keep your “carrot” valuable by not offering it to your child in other circumstances.

  1. Sometimes easier is better

This strategy is specifically geared towards younger toddlers who are still developing fine motor skills. As a human species, we are more likely to do things when they are easier, and it takes more motivation to do things that are difficult. Therefore, even if your son or daughter can independently eat, you may want to help them… at least with their first few bites. You may find that after the first few bites your child eats independently. Why is that so, you ask? Without getting too technical, food is naturally rewarding when we are hungry and so our bodies encourage us to keep eating until we are full.

 

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Start a new “Family Meal” weekly tradition… beginning with Thanksgiving this year!

Start a new “Family Meal” weekly tradition… beginning with Thanksgiving this year!
Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, Mom and Bitsy’s RD

*This post was originally posted on the Bitsy’s Brainfood blog.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, the idea of family meals surely must be on your mind. For many people, Thanksgiving conjures warm feelings because it’s consistently about meals featuring family members, good friends, and yummy food. Are these the same thoughts that come to mind when thinking about family meals? Are you even able to have family meals especially during the regular work/school week? Most people now know that family meals are not only beneficial but also very much encouraged by the experts. How does this translate to your daily life? What does the latest research recommend? How should you, as parents and food consumers, interpret this information?

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Nutrition

Fortunately, there has been quite a bit of research of late. Some of the most noteworthy include Project EAT (I-III)Purdue University’s Family Meals Spell SUCCESS, and studies coming from research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA). We surely know that family meals can be difficult to arrange—especially with working parents, kids’ afterschool activities, strained family relationships, and possibly even the aversion to foods served at family meals. But the statistics drawn from multiple studies via Project EAT have found that adolescents sharing family meals had higher intakes of fruits and vegetables, plus the mineral calcium, while drinking less soda. In addition, the more frequently the family meals occurred during adolescence, the more likely these individuals later would have shared household meals as young adults. Family meals were also linked to higher academic performance, greater emotional wellbeing and a reduced risk of using unhealthy behaviors for weight control1.

Overall Well Being

According to CASA surveys:

  • Teens who eat dinner with their parents twice a week or less are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes, three times more likely to smoke marijuana, and nearly twice as likely to drink as those who eat dinner with their parents six or seven times a week2.
  • Teens who eat frequent family dinners are also less likely than other teens to have sex at young ages and get into fights; are at lower risk for thoughts of suicide; and are likelier to do better in school. This is true regardless of a teen’s gender, family structure, or family socioeconomic level2.
  • Teens who have frequent family dinners are more likely to be emotionally content, work hard at school, and have positive peer relationships, not to mention healthier eating habits2.

 

Academics

Family Meals spell SUCCESS further supports these results. A study by Dr. Catherine Snow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education notes that conversations occurring around the family table teach children more vocabulary and forms of discourse than they learn when you read to them2.

Reader’s Digest survey revealed  – a teen eating meals with their family was a stronger predictor of academic success than whether they lived with one or both parents. Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) and others has found a striking relationship between frequency of family meals and grades2.

 

Mental Well Being

When family meal research is further analyzed, the most evident benefit of family meals is decreased depressive symptoms3.

Ultimately, we need more information on the actual frequency of meals, the length of each meal, who is present at the meals, and/or if the research is simply correlated with having frequent meals or truly a direct outcome of family meals. Is it possible that people who engage in family meals have specific characteristics that are different from those in families who do not engage in family meals? The answer is yes. More long-term research identifying the above details is needed3.

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Putting Family Meals In Practice

But what we do know? It’s estimated that three or more family meals, consistent family meals (i.e.: every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday), mealtimes with positive interactions and no TV are favorable…and most likely lead to the most beneficial outcomes for children3. So do your best to get some type of meal on the table and enjoy the time with your family. If one shared meal is possible, start here but make it weekly and don’t forget to turn off the TV and your iPhone!! Here at Bitsy’s we don’t strive for perfection, but we do strive for family time and healthier food for all families.

Are sharing family meals reasonable and achievable in your household? As working moms, we know this is incredibly challenging. Can you share your suggestions with the  readers?

 

References:

  1. “Epidemiology & Community Health Research.” Epidemiology Community Health Research. University of Minnesota, 2013. Web. 06 Nov. 2013.
  2. “Family Meals Spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S.” Purdue University Center for Families’ Promoting Family Meals Project. Purdue University, n.d. Web. 6 Nov. 2013.
  3. Cook, Eliza, and Rachel Dunifon. “Do Family Meals Really Make a Difference?”Parenting in Context. Cornell University College of Human Ecology, 2012. Web. 2013.

 

*This post was originally posted on the Bitsy’s Brainfood blog.

Planning for Holiday Meals with a Picky Eater

By Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP

*This post was originally published on ASHA’s online blog. The original can be found here.

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As an SLP  focused on the treatment of pediatric feeding disorders,  there is one common denominator among all the families on my caseload:  The stress in their homes at mealtimes is palpable.   Now that Thanksgiving and other food-centered holidays are approaching,  the anticipation of an entire day focused on food has many parents agonizing over the possible outcomes when well-meaning relatives comment on their child’s selective eating or special diet secondary to food allergies/intolerances.This time of year, I try to find practical ways to reduce the stress for these families.   One of the first steps in feeding therapy is for parents to lower their own stress level so that their child doesn’t feed into it (pardon the pun).   I often address parent’s worries with a “What IF” scenario.  I ask, “What’s your biggest fear about Thanksgiving?”   The top 3 concerns are as follows:

 

What IF Junior won’t take a bite of Aunt Betty’s famous green bean casserole?

It’s not about the bite, it’s about wanting Aunt Betty’s approval.   Focus on what Junior CAN do.  If he can sprinkle the crispy onion straws on top of Betty’s casserole, call Betty ahead of time and ask if he can have that honor.  Explain how you would love for him to learn to eventually enjoy the tradition of the green bean casserole and his feeding therapist is planning on addressing that skill in time.  But, for now, she wants him to feel great about participating in the process of creating the green bean masterpiece.  If Junior can’t bear to touch the food because he is tactile defensive, what can he do?  Pick out the serving dish perhaps and escort Aunt Betty carrying the dish to the table?  Taking the time to make Aunt Betty feel special by showing interest in her famous dish is all Betty and Junior need to feel connected.

 

What IF Grandpa Bob reprimands Junior for “wasting food” or not eating?

Keep portions presented on the plate quite small – a tablespoon is fine.  Many families use ‘family-style” serving platters or buffet style, where everyone dishes up their own plate.  Practice this at home.  It’s not wasting food if Junior is practicing tolerating new foods on his plate.  That food went to good use!  If Grandpa Bob grew up during the Great Depression, this might be tough for him to understand.  If he reprimands Junior, change the subject and tell Junior your proud of him for dishing up one whole brussel sprout! That requires some expert balancing and stupendous spoon skills!

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What Starts As Name Calling…

Squashing Name Calling before It Becomes Bullying
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD, CDN and Mom

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I am mortified to write this personal account, but I do feel socially obligated to share this experience, as it will help in raising awareness of size shaming/teasing/bullying and how it can easily and almost innocently start at a young age. What seems like petty pestering can lead to unfortunate circumstances. What surprised me was this was happening at such a young age and my own child was involved.

 

So what was it? Well, calling kids names but names regarding body sizes. With that, I went into my youngest son’s class to make candy apples for Halloween. Keep in mind, I am the dietitian making apples coated in sugar. My kids eat cookies or ice cream almost daily, and my husband and I do our best to focus on discussing health as self-care not weight. Well, I took a handful of the children (all boys) with me to the kitchen for a fun hour of cooking. Making candy apples was a first for me and quite messy but definitely easier to deal with than what was about to transpire. While heating the syrup in preparation to dip the apples, the boys became restless. I don’t know who initiated the teasing (Of course I would hope it wasn’t my son), but I heard it. I heard the boys making fun of one child for his size. They were calling him “fat.” Well, before anything else could happen, I immediately intervened. I let the boys know all body sizes and shapes are great whether one is tall, short, thin, fat, or anything. But they were convinced that fat is bad. The little boy had retaliated with “You are ugly.” My son eagerly reported this. I asked my son if he was ugly, and he said no. This was easy for my son, as ugly is a perception and my son is seemingly body confident (I think, in part, due to his ability to recognize that his body is strong as evidenced by his athleticism,) where as the descriptive word “fat” is slightly more “objective” – in the kids’ minds and in our society, it has more negative associations than the word ugly.

 

I was shocked and mortified by the above circumstance. The boys quickly forgot about it and moved on, but I wondered if the little boy that was identified as fat internalized the name-calling. I know his mother and let her know what had happened. I also let the class teacher know what had happened so she could handle the class environment. She also said that she would let the other parents of the students involved know. This teacher was sensitive to the issue and did address it with the class as a whole.

 

To help raise awareness of this issue with children, I recommend the following books in an effort to prevent and/or offer your child a corrective conception of such as situation. My son and I read about body acceptance, via the book called Shapesville, embracing our differences in Stellaluna, and bullying in Chester Raccoon and the Big Bad Bully. Even though my son had read these books with me previously, it was helpful for him to connect the days’ name-calling experience with the books. The teacher and I agreed that the boys had no idea what this could domino into but that it is our job as parents and teachers to ensure it gets squashed beforehand.

 

As Stellaluna said, “I wish you could see in the dark, too.”

“We wish you could land on your feet,” Flitter replied. “How can we be so different and feel so much alike?”

“And how can we feel so different and be so much alike?” wondered Pip.

“Because we’re friends,” said Stellaluna, “and that’s a fact.”

-Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

One Size Fits All?

One Size Fits All?
By Laura Cipullo, RD, CDE, CEDRD

Photo Credit: sporkist via Compfight cc

Bodies come in all shapes and sizes; therefore, don’t you think clothes should too? This may seem logical to us, yet many clothing companies cater to one size only. Parents and friends, please beware; there is a new line of clothing by Brandy Melville. Her clothing line carries mostly “one size fits all,” but this one size is equivalent to a small. So while MDIO loves the idea of clothes to fit everybody’s bodies, this smaller size may not be appropriate for all tweens and teens.

 

Brandy Melville’s clothing line is a cheaper alternative for younger girls to find the cool clothes that all their friends are wearing. These less costly items do come at a price, however, because they do not run large enough to fit the average American teenage girl who wants to shop there. Jeans at Brandy Melville run mainly in size 00, yet I believe this is vanity- sized and thus equal to a size 2, which fits a girl with a 26” waist.  However, the average 16-year-old girl has a 31” waist and therefore, would have a much harder time finding clothing at this trendy store. With a desire to be cool and wear these more easily affordable clothes, many young girls may go to extremes to fit into these extra small sizes!
Ultimately, size should not matter when it comes to clothes, but as a woman, a mother and a professional in the world of eating disorders, I know that the size of clothes can be connected to superficial self-worth. As parents, we need to think about whether we want our children to shop and support these stores/brands and also how we should talk to our daughters and sons about such numbers.

 

When talking to your teens and tweens about clothing sizes, please remember:

  • Numbers are just information.
  • Sizes vary from store to store and brand to brand for each article of clothing. (See our chart below.)
  • Size does not reflect health.
  • Size does not reflect self-worth.
  • Find clothing and brands to accentuate your body type.
  • Wear sizes that fit your body properly—and expect that the sizes will vary from item to item.
  • Wear clothes that represent the “real” you.
  • Think about how a particular article of clothing makes you feel when you’re wearing it rather than the size designation on the tag.
Disclaimer: These sizes are estimated.

Many stores vary so greatly in their sizes that a shopper can buy a size 4 at one place and a size 6 or 8 at another with all items fitting well. There is little standardization for clothing sizes in the United States and retailers often change clothing sizes without any one of us even realizing it. As parents, please keep in mind that a healthy shopping environment for young girls and boys is a necessity. Many stores and brands bombard youngsters with toxic images as it is. Fostering size expectations is not good for the shoppers nor the companies creating these clothes; nobody wins. Unfortunately, there are no standards or government regulations concerning clothing sizes. So, parents must think about the store’s overall image and message before deciding if the store is a place they want their children to shop.

 

Kudos to people like Cali Linstrom and Daryl Roberts for taking a stand against Abercrombie and Fitch!

 

Have you taken a stand? If you have, Mom Dishes It Out wants your story. Tell us about a brand you think fits well and sends a positive message to kids, teens and/or adults.

 

More reading:

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/02/abercrombies_anti_bullying_shirts_dont_come_in_plus_sizes/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/darryl-roberts/abercrombie-and-fitch-discrimination_b_3319889.html

Postpartum Body Image

Postpartum Body Image
By Jennifer McGurk, RDN, CDN, CDE, CEDRD

Photo Credit: Adrian Dreßler via Compfight cc

I had a very easy pregnancy and felt great almost the entire time.  What I didn’t expect was the shock and roller-coaster ride of emotions and body image after giving birth.  Not a lot of people tell you about the intense ups and downs during the postpartum period, especially when it comes to your body.  Everyone says, “Enjoy every minute!!” and “They are only this small once!!”  I remember feeling guilty thinking I wasn’t a fan of the newborn stage and felt so uncomfortable in this new body post-baby.  I would ask myself, “Why do I feel so ‘blah’?”  All I’m supposed to be doing is sitting on the couch and breastfeeding.  The only expectation is to bond with baby Connor, how hard can that be?”

Throughout my pregnancy I told myself I would get back to my normal self as soon as possible.  I didn’t care much about my weight but just wanted to feel good about my body.  I’m a very active person who loves yoga and exercise.  It felt amazing to participate in those activities while I was pregnant.  I also enjoyed gaining weight, knowing that the baby was growing and I was eating to support a healthy pregnancy.  I went back to the doctor a week after giving birth and had lost twenty pounds right away.  “Well that was pretty easy,” I thought to myself as I walked out the door… “I bet I’ll have my ‘normal’ body back in no time.”  So five more weeks pass by, and I walk in for my six-week postpartum checkup.  Those five weeks were probably the hardest weeks of my life, as the initial “high” of giving birth wore off, and life with a newborn started to actually sink in: no sleep, no activity, and increased anxiety.  I get on the scale at my six-week checkup, and the nurse weighs me and says, “Well, we don’t see that too often!  You actually went up!”  I kept on telling myself that weight wasn’t important to me, but in that moment all I could think about was the annoying negative body image voice winning over my healthy self.

Life went on, but something shifted in me around the three-to-four-month mark. I went back to work and felt fulfilled in my career, Connor started sleeping more, and I started to introduce formula and wasn’t exclusively breastfeeding (which honestly took away a lot of stress).  I also asked for help with babysitting so I could get out of the house more often.  I started to not care as much about my postpartum weight loss and started to focus more on doing something each day for myself and self-care for a healthy body.  I felt myself change both mentally and physically as more self-care happened.  I am now feeling so blessed and happy, and my anxiety has decreased.  I am walking more with my mom friends and babies, going to weekly “Mommy and Me” yoga classes, and am training for a five-mile race on Thanksgiving Day.  I am also slowing down each day, cutting back on my “to-do lists,” and just taking it one day at a time with my son with no expectations.  My body feels strong as it has now fully recovered from childbirth, and I feel almost “back to normal.”  But guess what?  I weighed myself the other day out of pure curiosity and wouldn’t you know—my weight was the exact same number it was at my six-week postpartum checkup.  Thanks to a healthier attitude and lots of self-care, I feel incredible both physically and mentally.  I also feel blessed that I can teach my son what it means to love your body no matter what the scale says.

Tips to Communicate with Your Teens

Tips to Communicate with Your Teens
By Guest Blogger, Elyssa Ackerman, LCSW and Parent Coach

Photo Credit: Spencer Finnley via Compfight cc
Communicating with your teen can really test your patience.  One minute your teen is asking you for money or permission to go to a happening hang with friends, the next minute they slam the door and say “Get out!”  It is no wonder parents of teens find themselves commiserating, venting, or clenching their fists in frustration.  However, as teens work at their job of trying to figure out their identity, the parent’s job is to parent with a plan in place and avoid reacting to their teen’s moods (or their own).

 

Teens are irrational, and, according to Dr. Mike Bradley, “Adolescents are temporarily brain damaged.” The parts of their brains currently in development and responsible for the emotional control, impulse restraint, and rational decision making aren’t fully formed and connected.  What does this mean?  Teens are confrontational.  They are hormonal.  They are stressed out managing their social, physical, emotional, and intellectual lives.  Parents have to be the bigger people and act rationally.  Parents need to stay calm, reduce daily battles, and let the teen wrestle with his/her feelings in front of a wise, calm adult.  Do not hold grudges and be big enough to say “Sorry” when you lose it.  When teens are rude, disrespectful, and nasty, practice saying “ I will not speak to you when you are disrespectful, come to me when we can talk civilly.”  Sound like a big challenge? It is.
Photo Credit: Tetra Pak via Compfight cc
The truth is that teens still need us to think the world of them.  It is easy for us to highlight what teens do wrong, so try implementing two positives for every negative.  Refrain from advice-giving and moralizing, and listen, REALLY LISTEN.  Put down your phones, don’t text while they are talking to you, email can wait.  Even if you disagree, let them talk.  They need to vent.  If given the space to do so, they will come to TRUST you.  Ahhhh, trust, the magic word.  Because in the end, as teens experiment with life and all that awaits, the choices they will make are impacted by their relationship with you.  Heavy? You betcha.  You are the most important role model for your teen.  Educate them over and over again on sex, drugs, violence, and alcohol, and be honest and straightforward.  Yes, pot dispensaries abound, but smoking weed at this time in their life couldn’t happen at a worse time, as their brains are on fire finishing the job of developing into the adults that they are craving to be.

 

Communicate with your teen by setting clear and consistent limits.  Be matter of fact about his/her curfew, responsibilities in the home, and your drug and alcohol use (or no use) policy.  Enforce limits through incentives, not ultimatums, and encourage them to act responsibly, and they will attain the freedom they so desire by demonstrating their willingness to do their part.  Discipline without violence, try not to yell, and let them negotiate.  Negotiating is a useful skill that they need practice while at home.  If rules get broken, let them play a part in deciding upon the consequences. Short-term consequences work best.

 

Cut your teens and yourself some slack.  Keep trying to reach them, invite them to dinner or a horror movie, or make them a cup of tea at night without asking anything in return.  If they see that you are still there for them and are trying to maintain a connection, the payoffs are priceless.  One day they will venture out on their own, succeed in their aspirations, and have the tools that they need to be successful adults (and maybe, eventually, parents).