We see and hear messages about healthy eating, physical activity, and weight every day. Physical activity and healthy eating are usually encouraged for the purpose of weight loss. Words and attitudes about weight are often negative, and blame personal lifestyle choices or lack of willpower. Such views can cause discrimination and stigma. This can lead to: Poor body image; Low self-esteem; Anxiety/depression; Disordered eating/eating disorders; Avoiding physical activity and medical care. (Provincial Health Services Authority, 2013)
The Health Unit supports a “Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds” approach that changes the focus from weight to overall health by promoting balanced eating, regular physical activity, and mental wellbeing for everyone.
Children are always watching, listening to and learning from the adults around them. Because of this, it’s important to role model healthy behaviours. Shift the focus from “weight and shape” to “health, wellness and resilience.” Begin by being aware of your own words, actions and views, and how they affect your children’s views of themselves and their world.
Try not to compare bodies. Healthy bodies come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Instead, focus on strengths, skills and positive traits in yourself and others. Focus on the taste, balance, variety and nutrition content of food. Enjoy meals with others and include the whole family in meal planning and preparation. Be active as a family. Try new, interesting and challenging activities outside in nature.
Learn more about role modeling healthy behaviours by visiting www.healthunit.org/wp-content/uploads/Tools_for_Parents.pdf.