Wednesday, 27 August 2014

'Do no harm': ED Prevention Strategies in Schools

From my own school experiences, there is much emphasis on healthy eating and controlling weight. I am sure you can think back to your own (or your children's, friends', etc.) school experiences and pinpoint a time when 'healthy eating' and weight was discussed. In my case, the focus on weight and eliminating 'junk' food led me to become more entrenched in the eating disorder. So, how do schools 'prevent' ED through their education programs? One article focussed on just that:
http://www.ocoped.ca/PDF/ODea_2000.pdf.

Not surprisingly, the authors found that programs that focussed on obesity were unsuccessful. This makes think when we think about it: if we are telling kids that they shouldn't enjoy chocolate because they will become obese, what does this say about being overweight? It makes children feel that being overweight is equal to being inferior, lazy, or sinful. Furthermore, it makes students feel nervous about food and their weight, opening the door for negative thoughts and emotions to occur - about themselves, and about food. In addition, speaking negatively about certain foods (ex. chips, bread, juices, candy, etc) makes students think in an all-or-nothing manner: 'if teachers say that candy is bad, I am bad if I eat candy. So, I cannot eat candy at all - not even a little bit'. Students fail to see that moderation and enjoying all foods is encouraged. To add to that, the emphasis on food and weight makes students become easily influenced by the media and other sources, and this makes them believe that eating is all about appearance:. For example, students will come to view eating not as a necessary component for health, bur rather, as a means of looking tall, beautiful, thin, attractive, sexy, etc. Instead of helping students understand that all food is needed and acceptable for a healthy body and mind, schools pressure students to see eating as a competitive activity, one in which the 'best' and 'healthiest' eater has the 'best and fittest' body. Without a doubt, this can lead to serious mental and emotional issues....and eating disorders.

I highly recommend that you read this article - it is easy to understand, and also has great information not only for schools, but also for us in our everyday lives. The authors note that rather than presenting food in a negative manner, schools (and you, as a member of society!) should speak about food in a more positive light. We need to acknowledge our dependence on food for energy and sustenance. We ought to be mindful that all foods are perfectly acceptable in a healthy lifestyle. We need to stop seeing weight and calories as dictators of health and happiness. We must not be swayed by images and media pressures that tell us that beauty is only a matter of weight and appearance. Focussing on strategies to improve self-esteem and confidence are essential, as this helps students understand that their self-esteem and appreciation for themselves should not be based on what foods they eat or what the scale says. Food and eating should be presented in a positive manner that allows students to feel safe and comfortable. Eating ought to be viewed as a fun experience that allows for creativity, adventures, social time, enjoyment, and even learning (ex. trying new foods, other cultures, nutrients and vitamins, body processes that depend on nutrients, etc.).

As a member of society, this article has implications for you too, not only teachers. If you are a parent, this article can help you understand how you can teach your children about food and health. In the workplace, at home, or even when you are out with family and friends - you can be a positive role model. You can approach food and health in a positive manner and you can demonstrate that food is to be enjoyed, celebrated - not despised or feared. You can illustrate that health comes in all sizes and is not dictated by a number on the scale. You can model that healthy eating means being able to eat a variety of foods, even sweets/desserts/salty chips/fats/carbohydrates (and other foods!) without
feeling guilty. If you can do this, you will see that others will learn from you. That will see your positive approach to food and health and they will adopt this in their lives as well. Soon enough, more and more people will begin to see the truth: that food ins a necessary, and not evil, part of life. And that beauty doesn't come from a mirror, body shape, or clothes size. This will help you and others live happier, healthier lives...and will likely reduce the prevalence of eating disorders.

I challenge you today to look at how you view food and health, and to reflect on how you can change your actions and thoughts to model positive and healthy relationships with food. You will see and feel the difference - and others will, too. And you will be helping to spread a very important, but often neglected and hidden message: that health is more than just a number on the scale, that food is necessary and life-saving, and that we ought to focus on living HEALTHY, BALANCED, and HAPPY (not thin, muscular, miserable, etc) lives.

39 comments:

  1. I hope schools read this post.

    Magaly

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  2. All teachers ,doctors and politicians need to read this.


    Jack

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  3. This post definitely endorses moderations as a safe guard to health and happiness in life.
    All or none theory or either white or black deemed to be wrong.
    There is no such a thing in life that absolute wright or absolute wrong and We have to enjoy our life ,every thing in moderation.

    God bless you Marina
    Well searched post.

    Kelly W
    TO

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  4. Yes
    Prevention of ED starts from family teaching and schools support.

    Ravi

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  5. The scale does not measure beauty or health and is misleading.
    Let's focus on our happiness, and be reasonable.


    CJ

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  6. We know that telling people good foods and bad foods is wrong.
    However some educators are half knowledgeable(means know only a fractions of the facts)


    Zak

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  7. You know if we tell kids this item can make you fat and it happens that kid bullied because of being fat,this kid will deveolp ED.
    Could people be educated enough before We put them in a position to educate our kids or our sick people .

    Jenn
    welland

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  8. You know what I like about your blog is credibility.You search info well and you gather all facts and opions and you bring us summary.


    Penny

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  9. My sister is a teacher and I will advise her to read this post.

    Talman

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  10. If doctors,nurses and teachers appreciate people' feelings,emotions and thoughts same as you do Marina ,We would be happy and healthy society ,all of us.

    Raja

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  11. I love this post but let me highlight what you said about how important to have our kids see foods and nutritions as very important to our health and brain.We need foods from all items to be strong ,healthy and smart and be able to ward of disease and achieve mentally and feel happy emotionally.

    With my humble respect


    Muhammad

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  12. I am from midddle east and on my watch I saw many either died or became very sick and miserable from lack of foods.I have never seen any one becaome sick or die prematurely from their number on the scale

    Hamza

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  13. I wish the school board becaome aware of your blog and this Journal and distribute this article to all schools and to whom it may concern.


    Sorina

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  14. I like the Moto "HAES"
    Yes what ever our sizes or shapes or cultures or values,We can live and enjoy healthy life and be happy.


    Giovani

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  15. I am hoping principals read this and act on it and then advise all teachers to read.

    Clorado

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  16. I am a teacher and I agree with all the recommendations

    Morandin

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  17. Scale does not weight our health or happiness.Scales are misleading unless used appropriately in certain circumstanes as morbid obesity working closely with a doctor.

    Paterson

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  18. This post could not be coming in a better time when school is starting.
    I hope teachers and principals and school board read the article and your blog(at least this post) so that can have a better start for new school year.and DO NO HARM to our children

    Cindrella

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  19. As long as I am happy and healthy ,I do not care about scales or numbers

    Hend

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  20. I am who I am I and no scale or measure can appreciate my feelings about my self.

    Delton

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  21. I am a teacher and I like this post

    Rabia

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  22. Our health and feelings is not determined by scales. Schools got it wrong.

    Oswaldo

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  23. I love your blog Marina especially this post

    Rima

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  24. Teachers are innocent ,they were told to do this.
    The board is the one to be blamed

    Rodica

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  25. No matter what my size is or my color is I am who I am ,if you do not like me ,you have a problem ,not me .

    Delfina

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  26. I hope schools boards endorse this prevention strategy.

    Fernandez

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  27. Ed PREVENTION SHOULD BE TAKEN PRIORITY AS OBESITY .
    YOU CAN PUSH ONE SIDE AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS.
    I DO NOT WANT MY CHILD TO BE OBESE OR THIN
    I WANT HEALTHY HAPPY CHILDHOOD

    KAPOOR

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  28. Schools need to have a policy on how to prevent ED.
    I agree ED is as important or even more important than obesity.
    Bullying is one key to prevent.
    Endorsing HAES is a perfect one.

    \Sudan

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  29. Eve though the article is long but is very thorough putting putting dots on letter recommending what should be dome to protect our kids and help them
    I've happy life
    Great post marina
    Very proud of you

    Nagy

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  30. Very proud of you and I appreciate all your writings.


    Mays

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  31. I am a supply teacher and good for me to read this now.
    Thanks Marina


    Maritza

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  32. This article is very good but very long.You did give us the bottom line of this article .I am hoping of a little summary.


    Gafni

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  33. I had 3 family doctors in my whole life and all tell me ,the least they are committed to is they do no harm and if possible do more good .Why teachers do not support this notion of Do no harm to all of us and then try do good .

    Sam Ibrahim
    Burnhamthorpe,Miss

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  34. I wish all the best to our kids at schools. This is thoughtful of you Marina

    Anastashia

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  35. Thank you for standing for our kids

    Sally

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  36. Wonderful post

    Piatro

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  37. Good work and helpful post.

    Jasmeet

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  38. Teachers please read

    Hamidah

    ReplyDelete
  39. I amazed how teachers got it wrong

    Helena

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