By Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutritionist Blogger Jeni Tackett, RD, LD
Raising tweens and teenagers in a social media crazed, selfie obsessed culture isn’t easy.
As a mom, dietitian, and former teenager myself, I am aware of the pressure girls experience to be thin.
My 14-year-old daughter, Lily, is a competitive runner and figure skater who spends many hours training for events.
I work hard to teach her the importance of loving and fueling her body!
Body image becomes an issue for many children at a younger age than you may realize. By the age of 6, many girls start to show concern for their weight. Half of elementary girls age 6-12 voiced a concern that they are “too fat.”
Poor body image can lead to food restriction and then an eating disorder. Thirty million Americans suffer with eating disorders.
In my own practice, I have counseled girls and their families about a healthy approach to food.
Girls need a support system to encourage them to view their bodies in a positive way and understand that nutritious food, exercise, and adequate sleep are the foundations for a healthy life.
As an adult, you can make a difference in how children in your life view their bodies.
Here’s how to help them:
- Start by loving your own body. Think positively about your own physique and use positive language about yourself around children.
- Emphasize “healthy” over “thin.” The goal is for children to fuel their bodies with healthy food. Do not promote calorie restriction or very strict diets (such as low carb diets) with children.
- Lead by example with diet and exercise. Keep your house stocked with healthy foods. Exercise regularly. Do not reward with food.
Teenage athletes are at an increased risk for disordered eating.
Teenagers are growing and sports put an added strain on the body.
Teenage female athletes can experience health concerns due to inadequate fueling to cover the demand of training schedules. Amenorrhea (not having a period) puts a teenage girl at 2-4 times the risk of developing stress fractures.
In order to recover properly, teenage athletes need to take a rest day every week and eat enough to fuel their bodies.
Adequate carbohydrate, protein, fat, and nutrients are essential to protect muscles and bones from break-down.
Sports nutrition is very different from weight loss nutrition. Athletes need large amounts of carbohydrate to fuel their muscles properly and should not be placed on carb-restricted diets.
Good habits now can result in positive relationships with food in the future.
Let’s help give all children, athletes, and even ourselves, the opportunity to view food in a positive way to help combat the effects of health-related illness, injury, and mental illness from a dysfunctional relationship with food!
|Meet Jeni Tackett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Nutrition Blogger. Jeni is a registered and licensed dietitian for Rock Valley Health. Jeni counsels her clients on weight loss and nutrition. You can read Jeni’s bio and other blog posts by clicking here.|