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?

 

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