Feeding Ourselves and Our Kids Mixed Messages
The thoughts I'm sharing with you here are
inspired by a recent discussion on IG among
It's meant to be food for thought (pun intended)
and to get women and girls talking about this.
To quote one of my fave musicians,
"the truth don't always come out nice."
So here it is.
We are getting and giving a lot of mixed
messages about body image and wellness in our community.
Here is what we preach:
A woman's /girl's beauty is on the inside.
It is a positive commandment to take care of your body.
Self esteem is so important.
Do for others first.
Concern about looks is not a Jewish value.
The 'outside world' objectifies women's bodies.
A woman/girl should look/act like a queen.
For modesty reasons, it isn't appropriate for women/girls to run outside/do martial arts/participate in outdoor sports/ride bikes.. (fill in the blank with any number of other healthy outlets).
Yes, people have said all of these to me...
Here is what we teach:
We go on crash diets and we yo-yo diet.
We are high stress, low energy, and increasingly being diagnosed with any number of lifestyle diseases.
We sit all day.
Our kids sit all day.
We hide poor health behind modest dress.
We comment about people's weight, followed by a value judgement (good or bad).
We eat our stress.
We eat our happiness.
We eat our boredom.
We eat our feelings.
We worry about our kid who is overweight.
We worry about our kid who is underweight.
We worry about ourselves.
Let's be real.
Self esteem matters.
So what should our message really be?
Because what we are saying and how we are
living as a community don't add up.
And if we aren't clear for ourselves about what
truly matters, how can we pass a healthy
message on to our children?
So now what?
It starts with changing our mindset...
Be real with yourself about where you are with your own health and wellness and where you need to make change.
Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. Commit to taking better care of yourself. If the captain of the ship goes down, then what?
Choose small, incremental goals that you can stick to and manage, like walking 15 minutes a day or drinking a glass of water before you take a snack. Small change over time means big benefit.
Walk the walk. If you can't teach it in action, don't preach it.
Don't make weight or diets or someone else's figure (good or bad) a conversation in your house. Make health the conversation. For real. Then follow up with action.
You don't need a lot of time or money to make healthier choices. You don't need a gym membership and you don't need to spend a fortune on food. If you don't know healthy, budget friendly options, contact your local health coach or nutritionist.
Encourage local schools to get kids moving more and to give non-food incentives. Research is clear: kids who exercise regularly do better in school, have higher self esteem, learn better, behave better and have fewer health issues and lower rates of anxiety and depression.
Explore healthy, non-food outlets for stress relief and pleasure and encourage your kids to do the same. The outlets can be active, creative, relaxing, intellectual, meditative, solitary or social.
Thanks to the One Above, food is a pleasurable necessity. It is not a solution.
Partner with a friend to brainstorm small goals and to support each other in making positive health changes.
Get your kids and friends talking about what is really a healthy and consistent message.