Following on from one of my first posts about adults adversely affecting the mental health and self-esteem of their children, I wanted to see if anyone else had experienced anything similar at their local gym.
I was in the changing rooms last week, and there were several children in there after their swimming class. A couple were eating cereal bars as they waited for their mum. I couldn’t help overhearing however when the little girl (who was about 6 or 7 years old) sidled up to her mum and said ‘How many calories does this have? Is it 100?’ The little boy joined in, firing random numbers and playing a ‘guess the calorie’ game. And for him it was a game; he was a little younger and didn’t have a full understanding of a calorie. But I could see for the little girl that the calorie content of that cereal bar was very important to her.
This got me thinking – where the hell did someone so young learn about calories? In addition to adopting a negative body image to the point of needing to count them? This really upset me. I was concerned about the unimaginable harm this would be doing psychologically, and at the same time wondering how this had happened.
When I was a child, I had no idea about calories and diets. I only became aware of such things in my third year of secondary school, which was when I developed an Eating Disorder. Before leaving Primary School, I had never been aware of my body image. I was a child; I was more concerned with what I was doing, where I was going, who I was playing with. The fact that I was so severely affected by society’s crippling aesthetic pressure when I was double this little girl’s age makes me worry about her future. Increasingly, girls and boys of younger ages are developing Eating Disorders.
For me, children and calories are not a good mix. Where do we think this is coming from? Have you heard your children talking about calories? Have they learnt this from school? Or do you make a conscious effort to make them aware of nutritional content in food? Please share your thoughts.