Parents should become well-versed in the concepts of body acceptance and Health at Every Size if they want to raise kids who are resilient against eating disorders, disordered eating, and body dysmorphia.
One of the biggest challenges facing many parents today is that we can see that the fatphobic culture in which we live is hurting our kids’ self-esteem, but we don’t know enough about health and weight to avoid perpetuating toxic ideals at home. Luckily, there are some great books to help build a positive body attitude. Body acceptance isn’t about “giving up,” ignoring our health, or unicorns and rainbows – body acceptance is rooted in the science of health and body weight.
Here are some recommendations for books that can help you learn the concepts behind body acceptance and Health at Every Size.
Body Respect: What Conventional Health Books Get Wrong, Leave Out, and Just Plain Fail to Understand about Weight, by Linda Bacon, Ph.D. and Lucy Aphramor, Ph.D., R.D.
This book does an excellent job of explaining the many factors driving the Health at Every Size movement, namely that weight loss is not the key to health, diet and exercise are not effective weight-loss strategies, and fatness is not a death sentence. Parents who understand this book will understand why they can relax about their child’s weight status and focus on the behaviors that are actually health-promoting, which include mental health and enjoyable physical movement.
Body Kindness: Transform Your Health from the Inside Out – and Never Say Diet Again by Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN
This book provides a wonderful framework for caring for our health without focusing on weight. So much of our societal messages about weight are shame-based. These messages damage how we feel about our own bodies, and they also damage how our kids feel about their bodies. Body Kindness shows the way to health and well-being attained by understanding how to love, connect, and care for yourself—and that includes your mind as well as your body.
You Have The Right To Remain Fat, by Virgie Tovar
Virgie Tovar is a wonderful fat-positive writer, speaker, and activist. She proudly identifies as fat, and does an excellent job of explaining what it was like to grow up as a fat girl who believed that her body was something to be fixed. After decades of trying to be smaller, she found freedom when she discovered that her body is not the problem – our fatphobic society is the problem. This book is valuable for people of all sizes, but it is especially important reading for parents who have children who are living in larger bodies.
Like many of us, Megan Crabbe’s body image issues began when she was just five years old. She chased thinness and developed anorexia at fourteen. She recovered from the worst of the disorder, but still spent years stuck in disordered eating – dieting, binge eating, losing and gaining weight. She discovered the body positive movement and quit dieting forever. This book is an upbeat and positive personal story of eating disorder recovery followed by a period of disordered eating and finding peach with a body-positive approach.
We created this light and easy eBook to quickly cover the concepts of Health at Every Size, Body Positivity, and Intuitive Eating. While it is written for a young teen audience, it applies to all bodies of all ages and is a great introduction to how we can talk about and think about bodies respectfully and peacefully.
Ginny Jones is the editor of More-Love.org. She writes about parenting, body image, disordered eating, and eating disorders. Ginny is also a Parent Coach who helps parents handle their kids’ food and body issues.