How to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body

Did you know that as many as 70% of girls and women in the United States struggle with negative body esteem? That’s a lot of people! You may find yourself wondering why such the high percentage. Well, the fact is, that our society has deep, long-standing roots in diet culture. Diet culture is a system of beliefs that idolize thinness and promotes the false notion that thinness equates health. It has likely impacted most of us in some way. So, what can we do to push back against diet culture and raise children in a similar way? One way to do that is by incorporating intuitive eating into your daily life. An intuitive eating is an eater that fully trusts their body’s wisdom and eats according to its hunger, fullness, and satisfaction cues without guilt, rules, or restrictions. 

3 Quick Steps to Raising Intuitive Eaters

  1. Teach Hunger/Fullness cues. Throughout the day, especially during meal/snack times, prompt your child to check in with their body. Are they hungry? How do they know? What signals does their body send to them to alert them of hunger? How hungry are they? How do they know when they are full? Prompting such questions can help teach children the skill of tuning in with themselves. You can model this skill by checking in with your own body out loud. 
  2. Refrain from labeling food “good” or “bad” / “healthy” or “unhealthy.” We don’t want to place a value on food, as all food has its place. When we label a food good or bad, we also label the act of consuming it the same way. From there, we begin to internalize our own worth based on out eating behaviors. This can lead to a complicated relationship with food and our bodies. Instead, talk about food serving a variety of purposes. Food can help us grow strong. It can bring people together. It can make our bellies and hearts happy.   
  3. Reject diet culture yourself by refraining from criticizing your body or discussing diets. Children are always learning from you, and they hear more than you think. If your child hears you criticizing your body or someone else’s body, they may begin to do the same with their own bodies. Instead, you can model positive body talk, but stating things you appreciate about your body that does not relate to appearance. For example, “I really appreciate my arms because they allow me to give you big bear hugs!” or “I love how strong my legs are. They allow me to run and play with you! I always have so much fun when we play!”

It can be challenging to change the way we relate to food and our bodies, but doing so can set your children up for positive body esteem and a healthy relationship with food. If this feels overwhelming, or you would like some additional guidance, reach out to a mental health professional with experience in intuitive eating. You don’t have to navigate it alone! 

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