Guest Author - Linda Steele
If we think Britney Spears is fat, we, as a culture have a bigger problem.
I’ve never been a real fan of Britney Spears. I think that she is a very pretty young woman who has had some success with her singing career. I have even liked a couple of her songs.
Recently, she tried to make a “come back” at one of the Las Vegas hotels. She bombed miserably. A “deer in the head lights” look would not be incorrect to describe the look on her face. For days to follow, it seemed all we heard about were comments about her “weight” and “mushy” mid-section. These are ridiculous. The choices she has made, both personally and as a mother, leave a lot to be desired. Putting this aside, any woman should be so lucky to give birth to two children in a short period of time and have a body like hers. She may have a little "flab" as a result of the skin being stretched to allow room for the baby, but there is no way I would describe her as “fat”. Come on, give her a break! Especially when the U.S. is one of the fattest cultures in the world with over two-thirds of us being overweight, I don’t think that we have any room to criticize. And we wonder why kids are suffering from eating disorders.
I was impressed about how "healthy", at least physically, Britney looked. We are obsessed with how much we weigh and how we look to the point our quest for the “perfect body” is turning into a national past-time. If you search Google for “weight-loss”, you will find 337,000,000 hits. It has been reported that Americans have been over $3 Billion on plastic surgery. These are the messages, we are instilling in our youth.
Childhood obesity is on the rise as well. Obesity leads to body dissatisfaction among our teens. Research finds that almost 50% of teenage girls and over 20% of teenage boys are unhappy with some aspect of their body.
We, as a culture, need to understand the relationship between healthy eating, eating disorders and body dissatisfaction so that we don’t inadvertently encourage unhealthy weight loss behaviors as we try to address this obesity issue.
With demanding work schedules, busy lives and everyday life stress that parents face today, it is becoming extremely difficult to be a good role-model for their teens. Here are some simple things you can do to help your teens turn into healthy adults.
Educate Yourself. Parents need to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of eating disorders and then how to talk with them if you suspect your teen is having a problem. You also need to know when to get outside help. To start your education process, you might want to go to the Mayo Clinic website.
Teach them self-esteem. High self-esteem is probably the single most important gift we can give our children. A person with a high self-esteem: values themselves and will not get into, or stay in, an abusive relationship; is more likely to be happy and to reach their full potential; is more likely to take care of themselves both emotionally and physically. How do you teach your kids self-esteem? You teach it by showing them that you value them, by spending time with them, by talking with them and listening to them.
Promote Healthy Eating. Remember that saying, "You are what you eat." Well, it is still true today. The earlier we can start promoting healthy eating habits the quicker they become habits and can last throughout adulthood. Recent research shows that nourishing food not only makes a child healthier, it makes them emotionally more stable, and it improves school performance. It is worth the extra effort to spend some time discussing nutrition, meal and food choices, snacking habits, healthy eating and an active lifestyle with your teens.
Here are some morsels for a healthy eating plan:
1. Eat six small meals per day. Breakfast – Snack – Lunch – Snack – Dinner - Snack. Snacks should be 100-200 calories each. Main meals should be about 300-500 calories depending on your activity level and whether it is necessary to gain or loose weight. Here are a few examples of healthy snacks to get you started: (1) carrots or celery sticks with hummus; ¼ cup of a mixture of walnuts, almonds and dried cranberries; (3) 1 cup of low-fat yogurt with ½ cup of raspberries or strawberries (4) fruit smoothie; (5) an apple with either one tablespoon of peanut butter or one tablespoon of Nutella (a hazelnut spread).
2. Eat a variety of foods. Try to get in as many nutrients as possible from a variety of food-groups: vegetables & fruits; grains, dairy, protein and fats.
3. Limit and/or cut down on junk food.
4. Limit salt and sugar intake.
5. Increase dietary fiber as it is essential for proper bowel function. Also studies show that eating plenty of these fiber-rich foods may reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease.
6. Cut down on alcohol-intake. Alcoholic beverages contain calories but few, if any nutrients.
7. Have a sufficient intake of vitamins and minerals.
8. Read the nutrition label on food products, ingredients and food portion size recommendations
Get motivated to move. Incorporate a regular exercise plan at least 3-5 times per week. Exercise can mean a variety of things: walking, running, swimming, cycling, fencing, dancing and the list goes on so experiment to see what you like. So, how do you think that Britney bounced back after her pregnancies? Most likely, she did what she does best (besides singing) – dancing! Dancing seems to be all the rage these days with a variety of reality shows based on dancing. Check out “Dance Dance Revolution” and “WiiFit” for videos that your teen can exercise and dance along with.
Practice what you preach! If you are telling your teens that they should incorporate some or all of these suggestions into their healthy lifestyle, it will mean much more, if you as their role-models are doing the same.