I Will NEVER Put My Daughters on a Diet

Rant 22

girl with measuring tape around waistWould you put your teen/tween/ or child on a diet? If you are like me, you probably went on your first diet when you were in middle school. My parents didn’t put me on a diet. They might have gently nudged me in the general direction with their comments and disapproving looks if I chose a piece of bread over broccoli.

There was a book last summer Maggie Goes on A Diet that absolutely mortified me. Its targeted reading level was for an audience of ages 4-8 years old. It was complete with cartoon like pictures to appeal to your preschool/elementary aged child. The book was about a 14-year-old girl who goes on a diet and transforms her extremely overweight and miserable life into being a thin girl who has it all.


This book will never be allowed in my house. I am the mother of two little girls and a survivor of eating disorder and a victim of body dysmorphic disorder. There is no way in hell that I will ever put my girls on a “diet.” For me, telling my daughters they need to go on a diet is the same as saying to them “you are not good enough” and that simply, could never be the case. I love those kids from top to bottom and I could never be the one to tell them they are anything less than perfect.

My best friend had a mother who thought the best way to help her daughter lose weight was to lock up the pantry and fridge. The only access this 15-year-old had to food was with her mother’s approval -- and the key that hung around her tall, thin, beautiful neck. My friend used to call me from her mother’s home crying from hunger, and worse, feeling like her mother was ashamed of the way she looked. It was heartbreaking to witness from the outside. I can’t imagine how it must have felt to my friend.

When I was 12, my father the runner, tolde me that I needed to run more. That was enough to make me feel like if I ran more, if I were thinner, if I were better, he would love me more. That was all it took for my self-image to be completely destroyed. Since then, I have had body dysmorphic disorder and battled eating disorders.

Openly putting a kid on a diet to lose weight takes away the security net of a parent’s unconditional love and replaces it with self-doubt and insecurity in the world. Telling your kid they need to improve in some way that is so fundamental to who they are is life-changing. I know this from personal experience.

I do not believe that children should ever be put on a diet to just to look better. I understand restricted diets for medical reasons; diabetes, allergies, etc. but just because a child gains a small amount of weight, I don't think they should be put on a "diet."

Rather, it is our responsibility, as parents, to ensure that our children get good quality healthy meals and live an active lifestyle. We are the examples. We are the caregivers.

If I had it my way, my girls would never worry about the scale. I feed them a balanced diet and keep them active with play and dance. I don't want them to know or care what they weigh. I just want them to be happy with the person they are and comfortable in their own skin. 

Would you ever put your child on a diet?


Photo via S/Flickr

body image, eating healthy, emotional health, self esteem


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bubba258 bubba258

If parents provide a good healthy balanced diet and encourage physical activity there would hardly be an issue with kids weight. Lead by example. A line from my fav comedian Tim Minchin "your 5 yr old princess in her size 14 tutu, only eats pizza like that because you do".....

Venae Venae

If her eating habits needed to be improved, yes, but I wouldn't call it a diet.  I would change what food I kept in the house and fed her.  I'd do the same for my son.

I started my children eating veggies and healthy things, though, so didn't have to worry about their weight.  We had cake and cookies and candy too, but in moderation.  They did not have soda until they were teens (at least in my house) - my daughter, aged 21, does not like it.  My son likes it, but he only gets it occasionally - he prefers sweet tea.  Even when we went out to dinner, they drank water or milk - even if I had a Pepsi.  Why?  Because I said so.

Autum... Autumnleaves87

I guess the obvious thing is to get defensive and try to protect your daughters like you have in this article.

The reality is that heart disease is the NUMBER ONE KILLER in the US. It is shameful, really, that people are literally eating themselves to death in this country, where others starve around the world.

I would assume you want to do the best for your childrens health, mentally AND physically. If that means putting your children on a balanced diet to lower blood pressure, control diabetes, lower cholesterol, and at the same time, losing weight and taking care of there total health, why wouldn't you do that?

I think your example of the mom locking a cabinet with a key and your friend crying in hunger is a little dramatic and over the top, and honestly not what a REAL diet is. That's not even close.

I think more parents SHOULD put their children on a balanced healthy diet.

SCRATCH THAT. I think parents should lead a healthy and active LIFESTYLE for their kids.

nonmember avatar Michelle

It is horribly unfortunate that you grew up in a terrible household with shit for parents when it comes to dealing with food and your self esteem. But realistically, teenage and even elementary obesity IS a problem...no, it's a CRISIS. Your head sees dieting as a means of mental battle with your parents while in reality "diet" should refer to nothing more than a MEANS of eating: healthy vs. unhealthy, not starving vs. gorging. You are going to have to teach your girls, and I am sure you will, that what you went through was NOT normal. Just make sure they eat a balanced, healthy diet...make sure they are ACTIVE...and most importantly, HAPPY. Food should be a center of creativity, love, happiness, and enjoyment....all while yes, keeping us alive and functioning. You sound like you may still have some underlying issues with what you went through and for that I hope you have a good support system and CAN set a positive example, not one that banishes a book like this from your house. How about buying the book, reading it with your girls, and discussing it afterwards? Kids DO listen :)

Anna Potts

my child would never be over wieght so i wont need to fat is discusting

wamom223 wamom223

I wouldn't put my child on a diet per se but there is nothing wrong with addressing a bad relationship with food.  There are good ways to do it and bad ways.  I think putting a lock on a pantry or a fridge is ridiculous because its smarter just not to bring in bad food in the first place.  On the other hand if  you never let your child have junk it will be the first thing they run to when they are away from you.  I think dealing with your children and food is like dealing with almost anything else in parenting, it comes down to balance.  Teach your children the importance of the food groups and teach them that its okay to reward yourself with a treat as long as you don't over indulge.  I've watched my mother look for 'the diet' my entire life and I don't want to pass that along to my children.  I also think its great to be active with your kids and for them to see you being aware of what's healthy.  For me this is the same as parents that say never drink alcohol in front of your child, why not show your children how to drink responsibly by leading by example.  I just think its better to talk honestly with your children about food and show then how to be responsible about it.

Tim Willard

Arghhh, Weight Loss :( It's so hard, I've tried like everything under the sun to lose this excess body weight but its soooo hard. Anyone looked into the "Fat Loss Factor"? I was reading a review about it on weightlossgurl.com and it looks quite promising.
If anyone has any experience with it, please email me :)

jessi... jessicasmom1

never a diet , just cook healthy 

MomLi... MomLily67

Change eating habits. A diet to help a child loose weight should only be prescribed by a doctor, taking in account  the health, age, height  of the child. I have a niece who definitely needs to loose weight, she's 8 and using size  14 clothes, it  helps that she is tall but it has become a delicate situation for her mom and grandparents. 


GlowW... GlowWorm889

Don't call it a diet. Eating healthy isn't a "diet." It's eating healthy. And if all your kid eats is junk food and that's the reason she's overweight, there's a good chance everyone in the family could benefit from a dietary change. However, unless your child is morbidly obese, putting the emphasis on cutting calories and exercising a lot isn't really the answer.

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