You may think that there is nothing terrible in them, but in fact, these words can lead to eating disorders.

5 food phrases you shouldn't say to kids

Parents and other adults often make comments about a child's appearance or eating habits without thinking. These seemingly innocent remarks can have negative consequences: they can lead to eating disorders (ED) - severe mental illnesses that are very difficult to treat.

Anorexia nervosa, bulimia, psychogenic overeating and other disorders are associated with a violation of the perception of one's body, the wrong attitude to food, an obsession with one's weight and figure.

Eating disorder specialist and mom-of-three Lindsey Ronga shares what phrases parents should avoid and what they should not do in order to avoid, albeit completely unintentionally, provoking an eating disorder in a child. Lindsey herself struggled with eating disorders for seven years, and now she helps other people cope with it. 

1. "You need to lose weight - it's time to go on a diet"

Never tell your child that he is overweight or put him on a diet. Restrictions always lead to overeating and bad eating habits.

When you tell a child that he can’t do something, he starts to want it even more.

If you notice that the child constantly strives to eat something harmful, try to ensure that he has the opportunity to do this from time to time. There is no need to turn chips into a seductive forbidden fruit that one can only dream of. Let the child eat normal, healthy food at normal times, but if he occasionally snacks on fast food , nothing bad will happen. 

It is also worth finding out why the child likes fast food so much. In many cases, there is something else behind the addiction to a certain food. This is not about food as such, but about something that brings temporary relief. Maybe your child is stress eating .

2. “No candy! Forget they exist."

Avoid extreme decisions and give your child freedom of choice. People with eating disorder who seek professional help tend to report that as children they either had unlimited access to junk food, or there was not a single candy in the house.

Both of those are bad. It is worth choosing a middle ground: it is important both to teach children to eat right and explain to them that healthy food is good for the body, and to allow them to enjoy sweets and other not-so-healthy snacks - in moderation, of course.

It is important that the child has the opportunity to decide for himself what and in what quantities he prefers to eat.

When a person has freedom of choice, he is more likely to limit himself.

3. “You only get cookies if you eat all the soup.” 

Never tell your child that they have to "deserve" dessert. When children are told that they won't get sweets until they've eaten all of their soup or the last two bites, they get used to seeing sweets as a goal.

This gives food more power than it deserves.

Not only that, when a child has to clear a plate in order to get dessert, he learns to distrust the signals of his body or simply ignore them. He may feel full, but he will continue to eat - both because the parent requires it, and because in the end he will get sweets.

4. “You seem to have put on a few extra pounds.”

Never make comments about a child's body. Such toxic phrases become a source of eating disorders.

But the ban on comments also applies to compliments about the child's appearance.

“You have beautiful legs” or “You have a slim figure” - all this sounds seemingly sweet and innocent, but in fact it is not. It is as if you are telling the child that you are paying attention to the characteristics of his body, which he is not able to control and which can change over time.

It is important that the child is comfortable in his body, no matter how it looks.

Then he won't have to guess whether mom or dad will be less proud of him, love him less if his body changes.

At the same time, the compliments “You are so strong” or “You are so beautiful” are excellent. Because they are suitable for a child at any stage of development and his qualities in question will never change in the eyes of a loving parent.

5. “I have gained so much weight! I can't look at myself in the mirror"

Never discuss diets or speak negatively about your own body in front of children. Children always repeat everything after their parents. If a mother constantly complains that she looks bad in the photo, that her trousers are tight, that she needs to lose weight, there is no doubt that the children will treat themselves in the same way.

Even if you verbally convince children not to follow your example, nothing will come of it.

Children usually ignore the words of their parents, but try on their behavior. So if dieting is important to you, it will become important to them as well.

Try to always speak well of your body, no matter how it looks, and also watch your attitude towards food. If you worry about calories all the time, about eating too much or too fond of cakes , then exactly the same attitude towards food will be developed in children. Instead of discussing how healthy, unhealthy, or high-calorie the food was, it's better to just say, "That was delicious" or "Thanks to whoever made this."

Children need to develop a healthy relationship with food, and this is usually hindered by outside influences—most often from those closest to them.

Food is such an important part of life. And we should try our best to keep our relationship with her positive.