- I am a mother of three children and I have always been very careful with the words I use around them.
- I have always been overweight and recently had to lose weight due to health issues.
- I didn’t have a healthy relationship with food, and now I’m talking about it openly with my kids.
I am always a fan Body positivity. Having worked with teenagers for decades, I know how easy it is to grow up Body image issues. I know many people who started a lifelong eating disorder after a handshake in middle school. So I’m always sensitive about what I say about weight, food, and bodies around my kids.
I was Excess weight For most of my adult life, though, it never bothered me. I’m confident in who I am and I’m always healthy regardless of what size jeans I wear. But two years ago I found myself in a position where I needed to lose weight for my health. Not to look a certain way, but to be more active with my children.
At first I tried to get better with exercise, which helped, but eventually I realized I needed to examine my eating habits. And so I started this very intense diet journey, which was tough, of course. But the hardest thing for me is knowing how to talk to my kids about it.
I was well aware of the words I used.
They were 13, 10 and 8 – prime ages for sensitivity to comments about weight or calorie counting. So I was very careful about what I said and what I did, because they were drinking everything.
I never use the word “diet” because I know how toxic diet culture is. I didn’t cut anything out on purpose – no sweets, no carbs, no wine. I just controlled my portions and swapped out high-calorie items for lower-calorie options — like a smaller portion of meat and more vegetables, or swapping out beef for fish. Still, my 8-year-old daughter grabs a cookie and asks, “Is this on your diet?”
I hadn’t used the word “diet” with her, but someone had.
As calmly as possible, “I’m not on a diet, I’m just working on making healthy choices.”
I tried to make it clear that I was getting healthy
And when I started losing weight visibly, it got harder. A well-intentioned friend of mine said, “You’re getting too dark!” I can’t tell you the number he said.
If my kids were within earshot, “The goal is not thin, but healthy!” I made sure to say. Then to them: “Isn’t it?”
But my 13-year-old started asking me how many calories were in things, and I freaked out. “You don’t have to worry about calories!” i said.
But the thing is, for me, I’ve found that not worrying about calories has put me in an unhealthy place. Yes, food culture is toxic, but I developed an unhealthy relationship with food in another direction. And I wouldn’t want that for my kids either.
I know it’s cheesy to call weight loss a “journey” but this is what happened to me. It’s not about numbers on size or dress sizes, but learning why I make unhealthy choices. My relationship with food was like going to couples counseling.
I learned about the unhealthy patterns I developed as a child and wanted to get rid of them, and how unhealthy our entire culture is when it comes to food, but how hard it is to see when it’s the water you’re swimming in. To share with them in a positive and helpful way, without shame.
So we’re not talking about room control, but we’re talking about listening to your body. I don’t force certain foods, but I try to show that healthy foods taste good. We don’t talk much about sweeteners, but we clearly talk about how much sugar is in soda, which doesn’t make it “bad,” but explains why we only drink it once. My son is getting into weight lifting, and we’re doing it the healthy way instead of following whatever TikTok influencers say.
I’m not sure I’ll do it right. But instead of letting them drown in toxic water, I’m trying to talk to them – on both sides.