Adults Know Best…or Do They?

Adults Know Best…or Do They?

My 11-year old son came home from school the other day and shared that he was going to stop drinking milk. GASP. A day later he shared that he wanted to “burn more calories by working out on the treadmill” and “lose weight”.  GASP. And sigh.  

Keep in mind, that my story includes a history of an eating disorder so this mama’s mind was going wild. The icing on the cake, if you will, was when he labeled himself “fat”.  Bring in the stretcher please! My husband had to pick me up off the floor.

First of all, why does he think milk is “bad” and second of all, how does he know the language of “burning more calories”? We sure don’t use that foul language in our home (wink).  

Perhaps this was God’s perfect timing because we are entering into National Eating Disorders Awareness (NEDA) Week.  You see, 30 million Americans will struggle with a full-blown eating disorder and millions more will battle food and body image issues that have untold negative impacts on their lives. 

While the cause of eating disorders is complex, the language we use with our kids can trigger and perpetuate disordered eating and eating disorders.  I still remember watching a documentary where a woman’s eating disorder stemmed from a doctor’s comment when she was younger about how overweight she was and that he was putting her on a diet. Words matter!

My son had heard the language from people at school.  I know I cannot put him in a bubble (though somedays I REALLY wish I could), but I sure can try to train him up in the way the Lord wants him to go.  And that is NOT in self-condemnation.

Rather, God wants our children to know that without a doubt He loves them no matter what. AND, He wants them to know that they are made on purpose for a purpose. However, Satan does not. He will whisper lies into our children’s ears stating that they are not good enough. He knows we will fall for these antics if he attaches a health message while saturating the media with a certain body type.

This is when we can hold up our stop hand and say, “Away from me {and my children}, Satan“ (Mathew 4:10) just as Jesus did when he was being tempted. Back off!! Just as we have freedom in Christ because of the blood shed on the cross, we also have freedom from strongholds with food, body and movement.  BUT, we have to choose that freedom for ourselves and our children.

Each year during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, we are reminded as parents, grandparents, siblings, health care professionals, teachers, coaches – and any adult that is in contact with children – to  watch language that projects judgement on body and food choices.  WORDS MATTER.  

Christian artist Hawk Nelson sings it beautifully when he says, “Words can build us up or words can tear us down, start a fire in our heart or put it out.”  Pause before you speak and ask yourself if what you are about to say will “hurt or harm”.

Also remember that children mirror adult actions. So, if you talk about how, “I shouldn’t eat the brownie because I am on a diet,” a child might hear that message, internalize it and apply it. She will begin to believe that brownies are “bad” and that she needs to be on a diet.     

So next time you think you are sharing an innocent comment with your child to “eat your veggies to be healthy” or “lose a little weight,” pause and consider the ramification now and years into the future.  YOU have the power within to encourage and train up a child in the way they should go.  

Want more? 

If you are interested in working with one of our qualified registered dietitians we would love the opportunity to work with you!

Visit our Faith Based Nutrition Counseling page for more info. 

Amy is a Graduate Faculty Scholar at Northern Illinois University and a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She is blessed with two boys and an amazing husband. Most of all, she is a child of God.  She is humbled to be a disciple who can share in the GOoD news about body, eating and movement. In Jesus name, she asks for freedom and peace for those who struggle with body and eating issues.