I have always had issues with my weight and I am very careful about what I eat. I exercise every day and while I don’t consider myself to have an “eating disorder” I do find myself unhappy when I look in the mirror. Especially now, after having two kids. Well, my older daughter is seven and getting to that age where she is noticing what I am doing. She has started mimicking me and saying things like, “Mommy, do I look fat?” or “Mommy, I want to be on a diet like you!” It breaks my heart and makes me sick to my stomach that I could potentially be passing on my issues to her. How do I break this cycle and get her to live a healthy life? I don’t want her to turn out like me.
Dear Diet Disaster,
It is heartbreaking that you and now your daughter are having issues with your body image and weight. This issue plagues most of us in varying degrees, but to see your issues affecting your daughter must be really difficult. Children can often times be the mirror that we must look into and make peace with (which can be incredibly difficult).
I recommend that you seek out a counselor to talk about your issues with body image and food. I know that you said it wasn’t an “eating disorder”, but I would have to disagree. Overexercising, calorie-counting and negative body talk can easily spiral into something much more intense.
The fact that you have had issues with your weight your whole life seems to suggest that there are things in your life that you haven’t been able to deal with on an emotional level, which could be lending itself as to why you are so self punishing.
There is nothing wrong with eating healthy and exercising. In fact, these are good things to do for your body, when the focus is on health. But, when the focus becomes about losing weight to look good in “skinny jeans” or constantly telling yourself that you aren’t good enough because of your weight or how you look in the mirror, there is going to be cause for concern.
The important thing to note, however, is that you don’t have to suffer and your daughter doesn’t have to follow down that road, either. If you can get your issues under control, you will be better equipped to help her as she becomes a strong young woman that is able to cope in a society that demands perfection.
It isn’t easy out there, but unfortunately, we are often times our own worst enemies. And, if the thought of her dealing with body issues is too much for you, there are wonderful child psychologists out there that can help your daughter move beyond this place so that she doesn’t have to live in a place of self-loathing in the future.
So, make that appointment to sit down and talk to someone so that you can get to the root of the issue. Why do you self-hate? Why do you feel as though your body is never “good enough”? Discovering the real issues inside can help you to understand why you treat yourself the way you do and allow you to move past the pain and into a place of self love.
You don’t have to live in a dark place. You can be kinder to yourself. Sometimes, we just a gentle reminder that we are enough....just as we are.
Good luck and thanks for the question!