A few months ago I was driving in the car with my kids when my oldest son asked, “Are you going to get a Mommy makeover?” He was responding to a billboard for a plastic surgeon that was advertising the “Mommy makeover special.” I was a little shocked, but told him that I did not plan on it. In the last several years there has been research that has emerged that indicates a mother’s view on eating and their body image directly affects their daughter’s relationship with food and her body image. Despite research being focused on mothers and daughters that does not mean mothers (or fathers) of boys are off the hook. That day in the car it made me realize that mothers of boys are also responsible and obligated to model a positive relationship with food and project positive body image messages to boys as well.
How to model positive body image and eating habits for your son:
- Do not allow them to describe people based on their weight.
- Try not to equate your food choices to how it will make your body look. For example, do not say “I am eating salad so I can stay skinny” rather say “I choose to eat salad because I like how all the different vegetables taste together.”
- Let your son see you eat. Take seconds or eat dessert if offered at the end of the meal if you are still hungry. This is teaching them to eat when they are hungry and hopefully, setting them up to never say to a girl, “Are you really going to eat all that?”.
- Pay attention to who your boy’s role models are. If they are actors or athletes with well-defined muscles then have a conversation and acknowledge that these athletes/actors are talented, but remind them that they likely have access to many trainers and coaches to keep them looking that way.
- Notice how the TV shows and famous role models your boys have talk about girls and women. Do they only talk about how they look and make negative comments about women’s bodies?
- Talk about how exercise makes you feel, not how you hope it will make you “skinny”.
As mothers of boys we have the job of raising young men that will be respectful of women and not judge them on their size or their food choices, but also boys are not protected from eating disorders. According to the National Eating Disorder Association it is estimated that up to 10 million men suffer from an eating disorder.
If you would like more information about what is contained in this blog post please refer to the following:
5 ways to promote a positive body image for kids-http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/weight-loss/your-health-and-your-weight/promoting-positive-body-image-in-kids
Your role in your child’s health weight– http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/weight-loss/your-health-and-your-weight/your-role-in-your-childs-healthy-weight
National Eating Disorder Association- https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/