National Eating Disorder Awareness Week for the US takes place February 24th-March 1st, 2020, so Signe Darpinian , co-author of No Weigh!, stopped by to give us tips and tricks for ensuring the classroom uplifts body positivity.
There are many risk factors for the development of an eating disorder, but we will be focusing on three risk factors: body image dissatisfaction, dieting, and compulsive exercise. Preventative efforts include providing protective factors in the classroom by promoting body positivity, putting emphasis on non-diet approaches to food, and encouraging joyful movement.
Here are 3 Tips for protective factors against eating disorders in the classroom:
1. All Foods Are Fair Game (protective against dieting):
Be mindful of using dichotomous language regarding food. Making foods “good” or “bad” disconnects young people from their body’s innate wisdom and causes them to overly respond to “off limits” foods when they do get exposed to them. The goal for our youth is for them to become competent adult eaters, and for this to happen they need to develop a relationship with all foods, not just those deemed “healthy.”
We do not want to stigmatize youth living in larger bodies.
Anna M. Lutz, MPH, RD, LDN, CEDRD-S, nationally recognized family feeding specialist, states most nutrition concepts require abstract thinking skills, cognitive abilities that are not developed until middle school. Young children may interpret nutrition concepts in black and white terms and may become fearful and restrictive of certain foods. This can be of significant risk, especially if a child has a genetic predisposition to an eating disorder. Instead, teach young children about where foods come from, prepare and cook food together, and expose them to a variety of foods through no pressure taste tests.
2. Body Positivity (protective against body dissatisfaction):
Promote health behaviors not “obesity” prevention. The term “obesity” pathologizes weight, and oppression is unhealthy in any form. We do not want to stigmatize youth living in larger bodies. Weight inclusive classrooms recognize that All Bodies Are Good Bodies. We take better care of things that we love, so promoting body tolerance, body acceptance, and body love promotes health.
3. Teach Kids About Joyful Movement (protective against compulsive exercise and exercise burnout or avoidance):
All students benefit from moving in ways that are joyful to them, regardless of weight and shape. As adults in schools settings, it’s important to pay attention to our intention and focus on the benefits of exercise, such as an improvements in mood, energy, and sleep, stress relief, and metabolic fitness. Exercise should not be seen as a way to compensate for food eaten or to change the shape of one’s body.
- Recommended classroom reading grades K-5th grade: JKP author Sigrun Danielsdottir Your Body is Awesome.
- Be Body Positive Facilitator Training for Educators and Students: https://courses.thebodypositive.org/p/facilitator-training
- Sunny Side Up Nutrition Blog: https://sunnysideupnutrition.com/about/
- For ages 5 and up, at home or school: A Kids Book About Body Image
About the Author:
Signe Darpinian co-authored No Weigh! A Teen’s Guide to Positive Body Image Food and Emotional Wisdom, a book written to help navigate the complexities of adolescence: changing bodies, hormones, emotions, stress, sleep, exercise, and how figure out what to eat – an area that has become increasingly confusing and overwhelming these days! No Weigh! is full of protective factors for the risk of eating disorders. Look for Signe’s forthcoming personal growth podcast this May 2020. Featured guests include: author Dr. Louann Brizendine on the teen brain and friendship; and Taryn Brumfit, who is focusing on the production of her documentary Embrace Kids this year. Taryn is also releasing her new kids’ book in June called Embrace Your Body, which accompanies her team’sEmbrace Kids Song.