When I was trying to conceive, I noticed babies or pregnant moms everywhere. It seemed no matter where I went that there was at least one example of what I was trying so hard to achieve. Over the past couple weeks, the same thing is happening to me, but with a different subject. This time around I’m noticing dietainment everywhere.
You can check out my previous blog post where I explain more in depth about what dietainment is. It boils down to this: Dietainment is unhealthy diet messages disguised as harmless entertainment. And it’s everywhere as I’ve noticed!
I was standing in line at the grocery store checkout waiting for my turn and noticed all the magazines on display at the cash. Many of them had headlines about losing weight fast, talking about celebrity weight gain or the latest fad diet. It was right at eye level so kids would easily be able to see too.
I’m so used to it that it barely fazes me anymore and I’m comfortable in my own skin – lumps, bumps and all. However, my daughters are still developing their self-esteem and body image. I would hate to have them compare themselves to these unattainable and unrealistic standards we see so often.
If you haven’t seen this video about dietainment, take a minute to watch it. I think you’ll find it very eye-opening.
I’ve been doing a little experiment where I’m watching for dietainment messages that my kids are exposed to over a two day period. The main source for me was at stores with their magazine racks at the checkout. We don’t have cable so I didn’t really have to worry about TV commercials.
My youngest daughter loves to watch Minecraft videos and I didn’t see any of this messaging there. My 17 year old daughter is another story. She’s more likely to see this messaging via her social media accounts.
I sat both girls down separately to show them the video. I separated them for a couple reasons. One is that there is a big age gap between them. Olivia is 17 and Bridget is 11. The second reason is that I wanted them to feel comfortable to open up and ask questions freely without worrying how it will affect the other one.
Bridget didn’t seem fazed by it and wasn’t asking a lot of questions. She watched the video and didn’t say too much about it! I did most of the talking and explained to her that not everything she sees or reads is true. She told me she understood and wanted to get back to her game. We ended the conversation by me telling her to ask me questions if she sees anything that she is unsure about or that makes her feel bad about herself.
Olivia, on the other hand, was a different story. She understood the pressure to always look your best and sees how the media focuses so much on having the “perfect” body. We had an open, honest talk about how you can’t believe everything you see or read and that magazine photos are highly edited.
We also talked about weight loss. She isn’t trying to lose weight and eats what she wants whether it’s healthy or unhealthy foods. She has seen my weight loss struggles and knows that results do not happen overnight despite what some media material says.
Overall, I think the chats were a success. We talked about dietainment, what it is and why it’s unrealistic. I think the key here is awareness and that’s what I’ve accomplished by opening up the dialogue. At least now if they come across this type of messaging, they can think back about our chat and remember what we talked about.
I’m also working to lead by example. I don’t want them to hear me say, “Do I look fat today?” or “I shouldn’t eat this because I need to lose weight”. Instead, I’m focusing on living a healthy lifestyle eating good, nutritious foods and getting daily physical activity.
The dietainment information page is wealth of helpful tips. I especially love the ones they shared about how to build up your child’s self-esteem and positive body image. These are the items I’ll be working on with my girls as we move forward:
- Help them discover their own unique talents and qualities, and value their own strengths
- Provide them with opportunities for success that have specific and realistic goals
- Have pride in their accomplishments – but let them know that feeling special doesn’t mean feeling better than others
- Encourage them to try things their own way, face challenges and take risks
- Give positive, accurate and constructive feedback
Check out the other videos and sign the petition to stop Dietainment. Over 16,000 have signed already and I think that is fabulous!
What are you planning to do to minimize your kids’ exposure to dietainment?
Disclosure: I was compensated for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.