Like most women I grew up with a negative body image that peaked in my late teens and early twenties. When I was 24 I had my first daughter and I enjoyed a fairly positive body image over the next 8 years when I had little break from being either pregnant or breastfeeding.
More recently I have changed my body shape as a result of some goals that I set for myself. In line with those goals I also took steps to refine the way we ate as a family and have ultimately decided to restructure my career path to encompass nutrition.
With three daughters of my own I am determined that they will not suffer negative body image as they grow up and passing knowledge on to women and girls will play a big role in what I do in the future. This is not about making women think that they should look a certain way, this is about empowering women to feel healthy within themselves both in body and mindset. Like it or not the way we see ourselves in the mirror is often connected to the way we feel about ourselves.
Did you know that your children’s nutrition, both boys and girls, during puberty can have a significant impact on how their body deals with food in the years beyond. Around these years girls tend to be less active than boys, sitting around chatting at lunch rather than kicking the footy and are more likely to use food as a means of comfort and/or control as their hormones run riot through their monthly cycle.
Unfortunately if your daughter develops poor nutrition habits now this can impact her for years to come both in terms of her natural metabolic function and the habits themselves. Here are a few things you can do to help her through the crazy years of puberty to develop healthy nutrition habits and a positive self body image.
- Make sure she is eating a solid breakfast. This will help her keep focused throughout the morning at school leaving her much better equipped to deal with any emotional situations that may arise.
- Teach her about sugar without alarming her. It’s not until recently that I have properly understood why eating handfuls of fat free lollies was not sympathetic to my cause but broken down simply it is pretty easy to understand how sugar, namely fructose, works in our body.
- Teach her some skills in the kitchen, if you aren’t too confident in the kitchen yourself you could sign up to Kitchen Bootcamp and learn a whole heap of skills while having fun together.
- Encourage her to take a packed lunch to school rather than buying it from the canteen, it’s teaching her a great budgeting trick whilst ensuring she is eating the right sort of food to keep her energy level up throughout the day.
- Make sure she is getting adequate fibre and Omega 3’s. Both will help out with hormone regulation. Pop some oatbran in her morning smoothie and switch olive oil for flaxseed (linseed) oil on her salad. Walnuts, salmon and sardines are also great sources of Omega 3’s.
- Model positive habits and behaviours, a ‘do as I say not as I do’ is not going to wash with your teenagers, it doesn’t wash with my four year old. It’s just commonsense really, you can’t expect your kids to do things that you are unwilling to do yourself.
- Get outside and move with her, whether you walk, run, bike, swim or rollerblade with her, getting out in the fresh air will teach a great habit, help you both to clear your heads and provide some bonding time (be it mum or dad and daughter).
- Redefine what ‘treat’ food is. A treat food should be the things that we really enjoy eating not junk food. For me that is an amazing meal at a restaurant not takeaway. My kids feel the same way.
- Make sure that she is getting plenty of variety in her diet. Eating a variety of fresh and whole foods will ensure that she is getting the full range of vitamins and minerals that she should be getting.
- Make sure her Dad remembers to tell her much fun she is to be around, how great she is a drawing or how pretty her smile is, often. Girls need praise from their father or father figure regularly to help them develop a strong sense of self confidence. It is my sister who often reminds me of that fact, we have five daughters between us.
- Give her plenty of cuddles, we all have that little girl who just needs a cuddle from her mum hidden in our core. It is an important way of physically reinforcing how much we love them.
I am only in the early stages of puberty with my older two but by the time they are through Miss J won’t be too far behind. Wish me luck!