Like everything else, healthy eating has been further complicated by the pandemic. Maintaining our health-inspired habits is important, but by no means demands perfection—especially now.
Doctors are urging parents not to sweat their kids’ “pandemic pounds,” citing the negative body image that often arises from these criticisms. That’s not to say families shouldn’t encourage healthy eating—they should—but rather that, especially in the middle of a crisis of this magnitude, being unhealthy here and there is hardly the end of the world.
Body shaming is never okay, but especially with children and young adults. Talking to your child about the merits of maintaining a certain weight, even with good intentions, is counter-intuitive as these conversations have been linked with eating disorders later in life.
Since the start of the pandemic, kids have been exercising less. Some families are ordering take out more frequently.
Exercise is always important, and take-out in moderation is no cause for concern. It can be dangerous to forge negative eating habits during the pandemic, but it’s important to recognize our circumstances; stress is the norm, and sometimes indulging is a human response to that stress.
Being healthy isn’t about maintaining a certain weight or following a diet to a tee—it’s about listening to what your body needs.
Parents must also be conscious of their discourse surrounding healthy eating. Speaking negatively about weight—even one’s own weight—doesn’t go over kids’ heads. Rather, it teaches kids to equate weight with health rather than promoting conscious eating and regular exercise.
Parents should instead turn to productive habits, like involving kids in meal-planning or making healthy eating a family endeavour. These are appropriate ways to encourage health while avoiding damaging notions that involve monitoring weight.
That said, not everyone is fortunate enough to eat healthy regularly; for those experiencing food insecurity, healthy eating isn’t always an option.
Regardless of one’s situation, ensuring the comfort and happiness of your child is the most important thing. Doing what you can to stay healthy is important, but we should also avoid holding ourselves to impossible standards of perfect eating habits and daily exercise during a pandemic, because that’s simply not realistic.
Gaining a bit of weight during the pandemic is expected. Instead of stressing the small stuff, take the time to instil healthy habits in your kids. Being healthy is vital—but demanding perfection, especially from one’s kids, is unnecessary and counter-intuitive.
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