A Healthy Diet is Family Friendly {Part 2} Weight Isn’t Everything

Hi there, Mamas!  Here we go – week two for the Family Friendly Diet Series {Weight Isn’t Everything}. (Check out Part One {Fad Diets} here.)

RDN Mama’s When “Kid-Friendly” Food Isn’t

There are two big problems when beginning an extreme diet, as part of a New Year’s Resolution, or for any other reason:
1) Bringing your family with you on a fad diet and

2) Thinking that because your kids (or spouse) aren’t overweight, they don’t need to eat healthy.

This series will break down these problems and offer solutions on what to do instead, so you can raise a healthy, happy family.

{Part 2: Weight Isn’t Everything}

Usually a main motivator for changing our diet is it’s effect on our physical appearance. In theory, there is nothing wrong with that. Society tells us that it is “better” to be thin; that it is aesthetically pleasing; that thin people are confident and successful. We hear that people who are overweight have a higher risk for diseases, like diabetes or heart disease, or, we may be trying to have a baby. Excess weight can affect that, as well.

However, when what we are putting in our mouths is focused only on weight loss – and not health – our diet can take a dangerous toll. Often times, if a woman diets, she is in it alone. If she is the cook in the house, she may make two meals – one for her and one for everyone else. Talk about isolating. Plus, we don’t hear as often what society doesn’t say: Being thin will not instantly make you happy or rich or “beautiful.” By eating drastically differently than the rest of your family or peers, or when limiting calories so much that you can’t enjoy activities and hobbies you previously loved, you’ll soon find your way into a dark place, mentally.

RDN Mama’s Breaking Down Calories

Eating for Weight

When our focus is only on weight, we treat food as an enemy; something to be avoided at all costs. In reality, it is one of our most basic necessities and should be enjoyed – not feared. This weight-based focus can lead to an unbalanced diet in several ways.

  1. We may limit the types of foods we eat. Like a fad diet, when we are trying to lose weight, it’s easy to take an all-or-nothing approach. We cut out certain food groups or types of foods. This can lead to nutrient imbalances or deficiencies.
  2. We may severely restrict the number of calories we eat. Calories are energy! They’re how we make it through the day. If you’re exercising, it’s important that you’re getting enough calories to fuel your body through your workouts. Also, if calories are very limited (under 1,000 a day), it can make it nearly impossible to get all the nutrients we need through food.
  3. We take the joy out of eating! Food is fun! Mealtimes are supposed to be a time where we can enjoy the company of our loved ones and savor a delicious dinner (or breakfast or lunch).

Check out some of these famous and (ridiculous) weight loss diets:

  • The Baby Food Diet – Dieters replace 2 meals a day with baby food (up to 14 jars a day).
  • The Twinkie Diet – Dieters eat almost exclusively snack cakes, as long as they’re creating a calorie deficit.
  • The Cookie Diet – Dieters eat 9 cookies a day (one every two hours!) and one meal
  • The Sleeping Beauty Diet – Dieters sleep naturally or under sedation as much as possible. They may eat one meal a day.
  • The K-E Diet – Designed for brides-to-be, a feeding tube is placed through the nose, going into the stomach. The dieter keeps the tube in for 10 days and eats up to only 10 bites of real food a day.

(Hopefully it’s obvious, but just in case it’s not: none of the above diets are endorsed or recommended by RDNMama.com or the author of this article.)

I hope you can see that there are major issues with all of these diets. They remove the variety (in flavors, textures, and nutrients) and joy that should come with eating. Plus, just like cooking a separate meal for yourself, they are very isolating to undertake.

RDN Mama’s Easy Breakfast Trick to Slash Calories & Boost Nutrition

Each of these diets focuses on short-term, extreme, and unsustainable eating behaviors. The blatant restriction can make bingeing a common problem, and then a feeling of failure, for having abandoned the diet.

Additionally, most of these diets deter exercise (RED FLAG!)… probably because you’ll be too weak to move. But remember, if our bodies are needing more energy than we’re getting from food, they can begin to break down our muscle for energy. And muscle loss is probably not what we’re looking for when we go on a diet.

Healthy foods taste great!

Healthy foods taste great!

Eating for Health

Eating for health is where it’s at! When doing this, you’re focusing on providing your body with nourishing, nutrient-dense foods that can sustain your body. Eating for health provides these benefits (to name just a few):

  • Prevent or manage disease. Food choices can directly influence our blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
  • Increase athletic performance. The right foods at the right times can be the determinant between playing your best or feeling sluggish on the field.
  • Help the body to function optimally. When I think of body processes running smoothly, I often think of the gut. Eating a variety of foods with fiber and probiotics and getting enough fluid ensures that things, literally, do run smoothly. And, just like I tell L (who is learning to use the potty), we just feel so much better after a BM.
  • Get great skin. Vitamins A, C, and E, antioxidants found in many fruits, vegetables, and nuts, give you glowing skin!
  • Improve focus. Unlike fad diets that drastically cut back on carbs, a balanced diet embraces healthy carbs. Our brains use carbs as their first source in energy. If they’re limited, our heads literally feel like we’re in a fog as our brains frantically look for another fuel source.
  • And, yes, achieve a healthy body weight. There’s no getting around it: Body weight is an aspect of health, but it’s just that. ONE aspect. If we’re consistently making good nutrition choices, body weight should fall in line.
When making food choices, focus on health - not weight!

Healthy foods should be enjoyed by everyone in the family!

Healthy eating is something that should become a family affair – no matter the weight status of your kids or spouse. Just because they’re thin doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t appreciate nutritious foods or learn to like their vegetables. Consistent healthy eating has great long-term consequences, and isn’t that what we ultimately want for our kiddos?

Bottom Line:

While healthy eating can lead us to a healthy weight, eating only for weight loss likely leaves us skimping on nutrients, unable to sustain healthy activity levels, out of touch with our family and friends, and feeling crummy when things don’t go exactly as planned. Remember that “healthy” and “skinny” are not synonyms. Eat food to fuel yourself and your family, and focus on foods that make you feel good!

Look for {Part 3} in this series will discuss ways to incorporate diet changes to help you raise a healthy family.

Be sure to check out {Part 1} of this series on fad diets.

 

Check out these articles for more reading on how a focus on only weight can impact kids:

http://nurshable.com/2012/08/16/if-you-love-her-shut-up/

http://www.dailylife.com.au/life-and-love/parenting-and-families/when-your-mother-says-shes-fat-20130604-2nnxq.html

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