The “F” word in my house is a three-letter word: FAT. We don’t use the word in reference to people. We’ve determined it’s OK to use as a descriptor for Santa Claus or maybe even our dog who was getting a bit pudgy, but that’s about as far as it goes. No one calls anyone else fat. Especially because it’s so rarely true and has become just another derogatory name.
My daughter was thin when she told me she was fat. At least by any reasonable adult standards. Sure she had a little bit of a belly, but she was also in middle school and I knew that’s where the negative body image was coming from. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t convince her that she had a beautiful body.
She wanted to go on a diet.
Now, as someone who has battled weight her entire life, I had to give some credence to my daughter’s feelings. But I also wasn’t about to let her weight start ruling her life as it had mine. I knew dieting was not the answer. There had to be another way.
A friend of mine suggested focusing on total nutrition rather than just calories or fat. I started doing some research and realized it made a lot of sense. If she could become educated on nutrition, she could direct her energy toward meeting her body’s nutritional requirements and in doing so would end up looking and feeling better.
Facts Up Front is a voluntary initiative that started in 2011 and encourages the displaying of important nutritional information clearly and simply on the front of food and beverage products. That alone makes it easy to ascertain which products will better meet your nutrition needs. But when I started delving deeper, I found that Facts Up Front goes way beyond the grocery store.
I had my daughter take the online Nutrition Quiz and I was surprised at how many we both got wrong! But this quiz didn’t stop with telling us if we were right or wrong, it went on to explain the correct answer. We poked around the website for a while and found these really great recipes. I learned a long time ago that kids are most receptive to ideas (and foods!) when they can be involved in the preparation. My daughter found that she really loved to cook and before long was looking for healthier ingredients and substitutions on her own.
After exploring Facts Up Front, my daughter decided that maybe she wasn’t so fat after all. And now she uses the tools, resources, and recipes she found online to build a healthier diet for herself. As far as I’m concerned, a healthier diet means a healthier mindset and a healthier mindset means a better self-image. And there’s no downside to that at all!
How do you get your kids to make smart food choices?