Diet Exposure


child enjoying her bowl of food

Developing a healthy relationship with food starts at a young age.

Last year my niece, who was 5 at the time, reported to her mother at dinner one night that she was “on a diet.”  My sister was shocked since the word “diet” has never come out of her mouth or her husband’s.  My sister does model healthy eating for her daughter.  So where did this little girl learn about dieting?  We can only assume from school; which is scary.

It got me thinking about when I was first exposed to the concept of dieting.  While my mother never got into any crazy fad diets, I do remember a few of her cookbooks being geared toward reducing weight and some of them had written meal plans.  I’ve heard from many of the participants at Green Mountain at Fox Run, that they were put on weight loss diets when they were very young, sometimes when weight loss wasn’t even warranted.

Often exposure to dieting at a young age can create a life-long struggle to normalize our relationship with food.  Thank goodness my niece did not stick to her “diet” plan; she forgot about the whole idea right away.  However she has mentioned that she now wants to be a vegetarian because she “doesn’t like killing animals.”  Lucky for her, her very sweet and helpful younger brother offered to help her kill the animals, since she doesn’t like doing it 🙂  Ah, kids.  I’m glad that so far this idea of dieting hasn’t affected her, since we know diets don’t work, but I wonder about the rest of us.

When did you first get exposed to the practice of dieting?  Do you feel like you’d have a much healthier relationship with food if you had never dieted?

4 responses to “Diet Exposure”

  1. JunieB says:

    I dont remember exactly about the diet part, but I am going to assume it had to be about the same time as the ‘exercise’ thing started…my mom bought me some contraption that hooked onto the door (ropes that you put your hands and feet in) to do these crazy exercises. its been so long ago, but if i had to guess i was maybe 11 or so? i was definitely NEEDING it , but still…

  2. My first diet was when I was seven years old. My mom and I did the Beverly Hills Diet together. I think they had a modified version for kids, but I was very concerned with the “effects” of all the nuts and raisins I was eating. My mom explained to me that it was normal and that I was cleansing my system. I also remember a lot of grapefruit on the diet.

    And thus my life-long career in dieting began. It took many forms over the years and evolved into serious disordered eating habits. It’s only been over the last few years that I have been able to swear off dieting forever and learn to love my body and treat it with the respect it deserves.

    The saddest part about my first diet was that I wasn’t even overweight — yet.

  3. cindy says:

    Ah, the Beverly Hills diet. I remember that my lips were cracked and swollen from all the pinapple. I also remember my sorority sisters and laying in the hallway of our house right before bed doing our ‘leg lifts’ with those rope-door-stirrup contraptions. Too funny.

    I think I was put on my first diet before I was 12. It was a ‘doctor’s diet’ and consisted of fish sticks, beef bouillion and cottage cheese. OMG! Funny…if not so sad.

  4. Brandie says:

    WOW! Kids today are getting started on the diet thing way earlier than my peers did, which was in middle school. Even then it wasn’t so much about diet, more about who weighed less than who or who had a “good” weight when they did the weigh in part of our phys ed classes.
    That’s really scary, and sad, to me that a 5 year old is saying she’s on a diet.

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