If there’s one thing we know from talking about our collective relationship between food and body image here, it’s that food is deeply personal. Everyone’s relationship with her is unique and different families and individuals will have their own approach. And sometimes there will be friction along the way.
A young teenage redditor posted to the popular r/AITA subreddit found herself grappling with some of the complexities of this friction when she wondered if her intense emotional reaction to a meal plan that had been recommended to her ( by his gym coach mother) was understandable.
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The poster, a 14-year-old, said her experiences with a health condition led her to diet constantly to lose weight. The condition – later noted as Cerberus tumor (or idiopathic intracranial hypertension) – occurs when there is too much cerebrospinal fluid accumulated in a person’s body, according to Johns Hopkins, which can sometimes be common in people with higher weight. It is therefore understandable that, faced with such a diagnosis, a caregiver and her family doctor would want to introduce nutritional changes that will benefit the health of their child.
Things get dicey in the delivery, however, when you see the poster clarify that her mother said she should do a third round of an “extreme 13-day diet” that she hates because she ” finally getting skinny” before starting high school. Now, we are very much of the opinion that an individual’s body and needs are not something we can make sweeping statements about as outsiders, but it is also important to be critical of them. vis-a-vis health narratives that thinness is automatically the key to health. The poster noted his own height and weight which, while we don’t give much credit to our culture’s obsession with BMI, is considered to be within the “normal” range. Add to that the nature of any extreme short-term diet where “skinny” is a stated goal and there’s quite a bit of mixing between potential health needs to prioritize nutrition and the scourge of diet culture. who is looking for a thin result without thinking too much about it. of the misdeeds of crash diets to get there.
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As SheKnows has already noted, dieting is a daunting undertaking (as opposed to long-lasting adjustments that support your overall nutrition) that very often do more harm than good and lead to outcomes such as nutrient deficiency. , the development of disordered eating habits, metabolic causes. problems or regain weight previously lost due to restrictions. And that last part was also something the poster said she was worried about, noting that the “stress” of diets usually gets to her. So when she saw the very limited ‘extreme’ meal plan again – coupled with feeling like she had no choice – she said she couldn’t help but have a strong emotional reaction. And at the end of the day, it’s understandable that teens have these feelings when it comes to their health, their bodies, and their lifestyles.
“Just looking at the meal plan I burst into tears at the thought of having to do it again and was yelled at for not being able to communicate with my parents,” she wrote. “I only agree to do them because they make me feel like I have no choice. I know it’s for my health and it will make me healthier, but I hate it so much…”
Other redditors were quick to comfort her, again noting that her body weight was not something to feel embarrassed about and encouraging her not to internalize a “skinny” mentality or not indulge in yo-yo dieting. Although, again, his own health needs are private and his own, that’s also a good thing to repeat, because a lot of people don’t hear this piece from the adults in their lives (especially those in older generations). completely washed out by food culture ).
“I feel like my mum and OPs are similar, my mum started extreme dieting to me very early on,” one commenter shared. “I was crying about being too fat when I was like [seven] and hide when I eat/refuse to eat in the presence of others. I feel for OP, basically having an adult body at a young age and being ashamed of it is such an awful feeling.
Although many of these threads don’t offer much in the way of closure or comfort, the poster came back to the thread to say that she had a chat with her mother and they both agreed that they could consider more holistically healthy lifestyle options — improving food choices and incorporating more exercise — instead of the hyper-restrictive diet to get to where her body needs to be for her upcoming healthcare and surgery.
But it’s a good opportunity for adults to know that when it comes to helping teens and children discover the foods they need to fuel their bodies, it’s important to be aware of the messages they can take away and how it will affect their long term relationships with food. Ultimately, be sure to decide together what your dietary goals should be and how to have a more positive, non-toxic relationship with our bodies.
Before you go, check out the best quotes to inspire positive attitudes about food and the body:
Launch Gallery: Body-Positive Books That Don’t Fuel Diet Culture or Toxic Eating Habits
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