Dr. Jenn Berman Shares Insights on Helping Children Have a Healthy Relationship with Food
On April 12, Viewpoint School’s Service Association Parent Speaker Series presented a lecture by notable psychologist Dr. Jenn Berman entitled “Helping Children Have a Healthy Relationship with Food.” Viewpoint’s parents gathered in the School’s Carlson Family Theater to hear Dr. Berman share her own experience with eating disorders while a member of the United States Rhythmic Gymnastics National Team. An expert in the area of weight loss and eating disorders, Dr. Berman’s presentation elicited a lively conversation with the audience as she outlined her own approach to developing positive eating habits based upon years of clinical experience.
In addition to her private practice, Dr. Berman has appeared as a psychological expert on hundreds of television shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show and is a regular guest on The Today Show and The Early Show. She is also the author of two Los Angeles Times best selling books, and serves on the Board of Advisors for Parents Magazine. Dr Berman recently created the No More Diets iPad app based on her doctorial dissertation, The Effects of an Eight Week Intuitive Eating Program on Eating Disordered Participants.
Dr. Berman began her talk by explaining the “Three Ds of Eating Disorders”: Body Dissatisfaction, Dieting Behavior, and Drive for Thinness. She then shared with the audience not only how to identify eating disorders, but practical steps to take help prevent them, which include:
- Eat dinner as a family at least six times per week. Studies show that this impacts cigarette smoking, alcohol and drug use, and leads to better nutritional habits and fewer eating disorders.
- Limit distractions while eating. People eat up to eight times more food while watching television while eating.
- Eat family style and offer a variety of foods to choose from. This allows the child to take control of what is on his or her plate, and eliminates the need for a parent to become a short order cook at each meal.
- Develop a dining “division of labor.” Parents decide what food to serve and when to eat, while children then decide if they will eat a particular food and how much.
- Don’t use food as a reward or punishment. Urging children to eat “one more bite” introduces food as a place for a power struggle. Children need to learn to listen to their bodies and determine for themselves when they are full.
- Expose children to a variety of foods and do not label food as “good” or “bad,” because then if they eat that food they are “bad.”
- Limit television viewing overall. The images on television are extremely influential, and research has proven that they reinforce unreasonable body types on impressionable young minds.
- Encourage children to listen to their bodies, and teach them to share their emotions.
- Do not criticize your child’s body – even if he or she asks.
- Set a healthy example. Watch the way you talk about other people’s bodies.
- Don’t diet or talk about your own body in a negative way. All of these behaviors are observed and absorbed.
- Teach self-acceptance, and don’t keep a scale in your home.
to watch Dr. Berman’s presentation on Viewpoint’s YouTube channel.