Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Eating disorders and young children

Monday, I read this thoughtful story on how many of the "health" messages we are currently bombarding our children with are actually causing more problems than they are solving: http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2009/05/innocence-lost-health-messages-are-not.html

It makes sense.  Children don't have the capacity for discernment that we do - if you say something is "bad if you eat too much" then in their mind it's just "bad."  I found it disturbing to think that the media's over-the-top treatment of "the obesity epidemic" is perhaps encouraging children to starve themselves.  Food as fear.  And yet, am I surprised?  I guess not.  Certainly, I know enough adults who have succumbed to the "good food bad food" characterization - smart, clever people, that, if they thought about it just a little bit, would say that was a silly thing to do.  I can't count how often I've done it myself - having a piece of chocolate even though it's "bad" for me and will "make" me fat.  Silliness, that we let ourselves be drawn into because it's easy.  

So, now I wonder how John and I can make sure that JJ gets a much more emotionally healthy message about food, body image, etc.  Step one is obviously ensuring our own attitudes are well-balanced and sensible.  But after that, it will be teaching him how to examine information that he has been given and evaluate it for himself, to realize you can entertain an idea without accepting it, and to know that just because someone is louder/older/bigger than you, it doesn't mean they know what they're talking about.

Here's to critical thinking!

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