What do you call it?


Emily

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This may be ridiculous, but I've been trying to keep my family from referring to our Whole30 as "the diet" for multiple reasons:

1. I know diet didn't always mean "trying to lose weight," but I think it has that connotation now

2. I'm concerned about our 12 yo daughter getting the message that she needs to diet (she doesn't). She already asks "Am I skinny?" to which I reply "you are healthy and that is all I want." (Just for the record, she is long and lean and does qualify as skinny. But I'd prefer that not be part of her identity if I can effect it at all.)

3. I feel like when the kids tell "outsiders" --teachers, friends, etc, that we are on a diet that we come across as crazy and obsessive.

I use these words: menu, plan, how we eat.

How does your family refer to the Whole30?

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I have been calling it our "nutrition plan". My daughter is two and I am sure people would have a heart attack if I were to put her on a "diet", even though that is not the terminology I am looking for (i.e. not refering to calorie restriction, but rather an eating plan). We are all doing this as a family and I am not as restrictive of her (she still gets dairy and some grains), but am trying to push how we are looking after her long term health, so when people say anything about it, I just say that we have created a nutrition plan for her that minimizes processed foods and grains.

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Mwdarby, I wish our kids eat only what was in our house. They have hard choices when they go to their Mom's (she wants to feed them crackers and candy), hot lunch at school (we pack lunches, but I know they still eat other stuff at school), etc.

I can see that, just as it has been for me, their food path will be varied and perhaps difficult at times... ultimately they will decide how they want to eat. I just hope their bodies' stay mainly healthy through the hard stuff!

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We call it a lifestyle, which is how we referred to our previous "diet," which was veganism. We never do anything to lose weight; it's always just about health. As long as you do that and emphasize health rather than aesthetics (which it sounds like you're doing), I don't think there'll be any confusion. When someone asks us why we don't eat a certain thing, we always reply "for health reasons."

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I just tell people we "eat paleo" - like I did when I was vegetarian. I said I was vegetarian, never that I was on or doing a diet. I guess if you're trying to refer to it though as a temporary thing, saying you're doing a Whole30 or a paleo challenge (I like that one) is appropriate. Then, if anyone asks, you can explain what that means.

I'm glad you're thinking about what the word diet might mean to your 12 year old. :)

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Casey and Jackie I would like both of your posts but it won't let me :(

Casey, I think a lot (my bf would say worry) about whether intense focus on food is good for a 12yo girl. I've never had disordered eating, but I have experienced plenty of body image issues and I've had friends with horrible disordered eating that lasts deep into adulthood. I would love for our 12 yo to avoid any of that, and I certainly don't want to add to it.

Part of me is hoping if she learns a lifestyle (Paleo) that helps her body be what she wants it to be than maybe that will help?

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Emily, I know what you mean about the possibility of eating such a strict diet being an 'intense focus on food'. It's hard for it not to be because it deviates so far from what everyone else is eating. And having to explain it all the time gets tiring and for a kid, raises questions and, possibly, some confusion, like, "If we eat this way to be healthy, why doesn't everyone else want to eat this way too - doesn't everyone want to be healthy?" Not sure though, I'm just throwing that last part out there.

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My daughter has ADHD and I've read she needs 15-20g of protein for breakfast and lunch. I tell her we eat nutritional stuff to help our bodies grow and be happy. Luckily, she could tell a difference in her performance at school when she does eat healthy for breakfast and lunch which makes her want to continue to eat that way. I give her control of what to pack for lunch and breakfast. Although, it has to be whole fruits, veggies, and a good source of protein. I also give her a prize. Like if she eats well during the week, she gets to pick a weekend activity for us to do. At the end of the month, I'll get her a Build A Bear or we'll go to a water park or something.

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My kiddos are a lot younger than your daughter (2 and 4), but instead of trying to put a name on how we eat, we focus on the negatives we are avoiding or the benefits we gain - and this is what they repeat to others when they ask. A conversation with my 4 year old sounds something like this:

"Why don't you eat sandwiches?

"Bread makes my belly sick. And sometimes it makes my body feel crazy."

or

"Why do you eat so many vegetables"

"Vegetables make me grow stronger and get muscles."

Maybe you could help your daughter focus on the benefits instead of giving the "diet" and name?

This may be ridiculous, but I've been trying to keep my family from referring to our Whole30 as "the diet" for multiple reasons:

1. I know diet didn't always mean "trying to lose weight," but I think it has that connotation now

2. I'm concerned about our 12 yo daughter getting the message that she needs to diet (she doesn't). She already asks "Am I skinny?" to which I reply "you are healthy and that is all I want." (Just for the record, she is long and lean and does qualify as skinny. But I'd prefer that not be part of her identity if I can effect it at all.)

3. I feel like when the kids tell "outsiders" --teachers, friends, etc, that we are on a diet that we come across as crazy and obsessive.

I use these words: menu, plan, how we eat.

How does your family refer to the Whole30?

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I agree with the idea of treating this like you are teaching healthy eating habits. I'm starting this out so early, that I hope by the time my daughter even is aware of the idea of dieting, she will just know this is how people eat healthy. Perhaps, talking to you daughter at length about why the family is making a switch (like Robin says) in a way that doesn't say anything about how our bodies look would be helpful. I like the idea of saying things like "we don't eat grains now because this is how grains make us sick." I think Robin brings up a great point that I'm definitely going to take to heart. Maybe not labeling it at all is better, especially if there are any concerns about body image going on.

I totally get your concern about passing on bad body image. I definitely got that from my mom. It ruined probably 2 decades of my life, living in that misery of food obsession and never being to love myself. I grew up with a mom who constantly yo-yo dieted and basically wouldn't be happy with her body until it looked a certain way.

I got to a place after my daughter was born where I just flat out hated my body, and thus myself. What a shame that is, because this body gave me my daughter. I think about that often - how wonderful of a gift my body has given me and how proud I am of it for the work it took to do that. I think it is very important to practice loving your body no matter where it's at. I don't want my daughter to think there is something wrong with her if she is a chubby, skinny or normal looking teenager. Wherever she is at, she is worthy of self love. How is she going to know that if her mom doesn't love her body even if it is chubby, skinny or normal looking? Moms have a lot of power to teach that by leading with example. My mom never told me one single negative thing about my body. But, she showed me that she couldn't love her body, so I thought I couldn't love mine.

You're doing your daughter a wonderful service by teaching her how to be healthy. I think the only way you can really teach her how to think healthy is by showing her how you think healthy about yourself. If you're doing that, then you probably have nothing to worry about! :)

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I'm really glad I asked this--these are great thoughts!

Chiaya, I'm very aware that we are far from how most people eat and I struggle with that. I've known people who were "health nuts" and I never wanted to have special requests about food or be a pain about food. I was raised that if someone cooked for you, you ate it and were grateful.

In terms of my oldest daughter, I really am focusing on how she feels, how I feel (for me the Whole30 and Paleo completely changes how I feel), and things like how much gas we have.

I don't think I'm a pain about food, other than I say "no, thank you a lot." But eating this way I can not eat for quite awhile and not get into if-I-don't-eat-right-now-I'm-going-to-collapse-mode. So if there's nothing I can eat, I just don't eat.

Robin, I really like you idea also. But somehow in our house we do end up saying "is that on the diet?" or something similar a lot... that's when I'd like a different term. "Menu" has been working pretty well.

Casey, I really liked what you wrote about your body giving you something so wonderful. I've always been an athlete and I've been lucky to always be pretty happy with what my body does for me. I definitely want to pass those feelings on. I worry that the culture has a stronger voice than I, especially when I hear words like "skinny" come out of her mouth (I've always wanted to be muscular, not skinny, so she hasn't gotten the skinny bug from me!" I certainly hope I lead by example.

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  • 1 month later...

When talking to the little ones I just say we eat xyz because it's good for our bodies. We don't eat xyz because it's not good for our bodies. When talking to others, I just tell them we don't eat grains or sugar. It sounds more like a lifestyle than a diet when you say it that way... I try not to say "paleo" because people seem to associate that with fad diets.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I agree with CaseyD, that your attitude plays the most important role. If you lose weight after your Whole 30, don't tell her that you're happy because you got thinner, tell her you are happy because you look and feel healthier.

I don't know if it is a good idea, but maybe you should talk to her about anorexia and bulimia nervosa and watch with her some videos on youtube about this matter. Also if you google it, there are many sites that offer professional advice for free about how to talk to your children to prevent ED.

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I think HAES (health at every size) has some really valuable lessons, and one of the ones I've tried really hard to take to heart is that healthy choices are an end in and of themselves. For example, we can probably all agree that eating lots of vegetables is a good choice to make for your health. But, if your goal is to "look" healthy externally, it gets easy to go off the rails when you don't look the way you want. For example, if I had gone through my Whole30 and not lost weight -- if I looked EXACTLY the same -- I would hope my Whole30 would still be a success for what it's given me nutritionally and psychologically. I think a LOT of the language around food choices and fitness choices, etc. give the impression that all these choices are intended primarily to mold your body. But, if that's the case, why bother when your body won't mold the way you want it to?

So, basically, I think all the suggestions above are great, and I think steering language toward health and away from appearance-based results is a really good way to go.

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One thing you might consider teaching them is that "diet" doesn't just mean "going on a" it also has a holistic meaning .. as in "this is how we eat". Everyone has a diet. Some people have a junk food diet. Some people have a healthy diet. Some people have a vegan or vegetarian diet. Some people have a omnivorous diet. And some people choose to make changes to their diets for health or weight or fitness reasons.

Diet is not a dirty word. Diet simply means "how people eat".

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