No Wellness Wankery

97: The worst ways parents pass on poor body image - and how to avoid them

January 23, 2024 Lyndi Cohen
No Wellness Wankery
97: The worst ways parents pass on poor body image - and how to avoid them
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, we discuss:

  • How diet culture affects boys, as well as women and girls
  • Our own childhoods and upbringings, and how these shaped our relationships with food and our bodies
  • Things we want to change when raising our own children to prevent them being negatively affected by diet culture
  • How to get your kids involved in the kitchen
  • How to teach your children to explore and advocate for their own food choices and preferences
  • Helping your children develop a healthy relationship with their body, as well as with food
  • How to help your kids build trust around food, and learn to tune into their hunger and fullness cues
  • Advice we’d give to parents when it comes to supporting healthy body image in their children

This vulnerable, honest conversation explores how negative relationships with food and your body can impact not just women, but men and boys too, and how you can learn from your own upbringing and your family’s shortcomings to parent your kids in a way that supports them to develop a healthy body image and relationship with food as much as possible.

For this chat, I have Joel Feren, The Nutrition Guy, on the podcast. Joel is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist with a passion for improving the mental and physical health of Australians - especially males. You can find Joel on Instagram here, at or his website here.

If you want to work on your own relationship with food or your body, so you can pass on positive habits and learnings to your children, and protect them from the damaging effects of diet culture, get my FREE 5-Day course here. You’ll learn how to regain control over food, make peace with your body, and stop being consumed by thoughts of food all the time.

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Speaker 1:

Hello everyone and welcome to this week's episode of the no Wellness Wankery Podcast. Today we are going to be joined by my friend and also a fellow dietitian, Joel Farron, who is the nutrition guy. He's a highly regarded APD, which means accredited practicing dietitian and accredited nutritionist, and he has a background in biomedical sciences. But don't let that get you overwhelmed. Or talking about today is incredibly practical. We're talking about how to raise kids who have a healthy body image. We're talking about Joel's experiences growing up with body image and with perhaps a degree of disordered eating. And if you are a parent who is raising a child, whether a boy or a girl, I think this conversation is particularly relevant. We know that eating disorder rates are on the rise. This is for boys and for girls and non-gender conforming children too. It's super scary and with boys, when they get an eating disorder, typically it tends to get a lot more extreme before it gets recognized and, as a result, we don't have as good care for our little boys. We can't prevent our kids from absorbing the constellation of things that tell them that they're not okay in the world, but I think as parents we can arm them with a tool belt of things that can help them be a healthy eater, and we're going to be talking about that intuitive eating, about cooking skills and how Joel and I are raising kids who like themselves and who love cooking. Welcome to the show, Joel.

Speaker 2:

Joel, my pleasure. It's so nice to be here.

Speaker 1:

Joel, it's so nice to have you because I think today's conversation feels like a really important one, you and I both being parents now, where we met each other, we were not parents and now we are parents with little children, and so raising kids who feel comfortable in their body is such a big thing. It's a bit of a challenge as well. I think we often think that body image stuff affects women and girls, that it's a problem for women and girls, and we don't think about how it impacts our boys. So can you tell us a little bit? What was it like growing up for you? What were you affected by? Diet, culture? Were there things that impacted your body image as a boy?

Speaker 2:

Joel, yeah, there's so much to unpack here. I mean, firstly, you're right, eating disorders are no longer exclusively women's issue. 25% of people who suffer from eating sort of are male. So I think that's a big one. And we know that there are a million Australians currently dealing with an eating disorder. And that doesn't take into account people who have issues with disordered eating. For me personally, this is a little bit new for me because I haven't really shared too much about my own journey, but something I've reflected on a lot since becoming a dad. My relationship with food was pretty bad, pretty bad growing up. I don't hate the term, but I struggled with my weight. I was quite overweight as a kid. Food never really brought me much joy either. I used to use exercise as a punishment. I learned to count calories from a really early age. Food for me was always labelled. It was good or bad, right or wrong. Fattening was at such an 80s, 90s term, but fattening was a word that was used a lot and I sort of always struggled because food was almost like a necessary evil. And to share a little bit more about myself my grandparents, my maternal grandparents, were Holocaust survivors and they effectively were starved for all those years in the ghettos and in the camps. So there was always an abundance of food but I always felt like I should eat but at the same time I felt like I shouldn't be eating so much or shouldn't be eating certain foods. It was always a really tricky situation just to navigate. I was termed ponchka, if you know what that is Lindy donut I know what that is. Yeah, it was a term of endearment, but I think about it now and I think as a kid that's a pretty nasty term to put on a child. So yeah, I always felt like my relationship with food was really fraught and really wanted a different experience for my kids. I very much want them to have a healthy, nutritious diet. That goes without saying. That comes with the territory of being a dietitian. But I think what trumps that is having a healthy relationship with food. I don't ever want them to see food as good or bad, right or wrong. I don't ever want their food intake to almost be part of their identity. I want them to love food and just have that beautiful relationship with food and I love that. Ruby, my four-year-old daughter, has literally no idea what I do for work. She thinks I cook. I mean she's kind of half right, because I do a lot of recipe development and I think as well, like I've learned so much on the job of being a dad, I take so much from both of my kids. I've learned that I'm not necessarily in control of things like their appetite and their food preferences and their food choices and they're the ones guiding me and I really like that and I think there's a lot we can learn from our kids, so that's a really special one for me. I never thought that they'd be teaching me so much.

Speaker 1:

It's so interesting if you're someone who's grown up with parents who experienced food insecurity or grandparents who experienced food insecurity, who had a lack of food. I know family friends who, their parents, grew up in the Soviet Union, where food was rationed or any time where you didn't have that much access to food. We learn certain diet rules as a result of it. It might be something like finish everything on your plate, or perhaps you were reminded of all the starving kids in Africa. So you've got to eat. And yet there's the dichotomy because at the same time we're told but don't gain weight, don't be chubby, so eat all my food, don't? You dare not eat all my food. But also you have to be the quote, unquote, right weight. And so we're in this real push-pull growing up where we don't even know how to be the good kid because we're being told these conflicting food rules. And that's the thing I think that gets me about diet rules is they contradict each other all the time. They're you know, we know how to eat this food, but then you have to eat it. You know all the time, and it can create a lot of confusion. Joel, do you remember? Like you know you mentioned, your kind of food was good. Bad, you started counting calories. I started counting calories when I stole my mom's calorie counter book when I was quite young and I would start to record down what I was eating and I was very much endorsed by my family. But do you remember what age ballpark you were when you started first noticing? Oh, I'm not sure my body is quote, unquote right or what it needs to be to fit in.

Speaker 2:

I think it was probably when I was like eight or nine. I think I mean that Alan Boroshek calorie king book was pretty much a Bible in my house. It was often referred to. So I think that's sort of what started it. And yeah, I mean, look, on a personal front, my parents divorced when I was 11 and, being an only child, I think that had a pretty big impact on my childhood years and I think I think it was around that time where I started to turn to food a lot more as a security or as a crutch, but, yeah, definitely being sort of wrapped up in this idea that food was no longer nourishing, it was just a source of calories. You know, a piece of bread might have had 80 calories, an apple 100 calories. Like kids of 8 to 10 should not know this. I don't even think adults should know this. I mean it shouldn't be part of the conversation. We can talk about nutrients in food, but let's talk about all the other stuff that food has. And let's talk beyond the health and the nutrition, the meaning of food and why we eat food, and encouraging our kids and encouraging adults as well to be more in tune with their bodies and to listen to their hunger fullness cues. I mean these are the messages that we should be getting across. But yeah, I think, as I said earlier, my relationship with food was Is that what you will issue?

Speaker 1:

a talk, growing up To tune into your body, to listen to it, to be able to trust it, instead of constantly seeking someone else to tell you how to eat. That knowing you could trust your body, that could have been a really important thing.

Speaker 2:

Absolutely and I feel like it's so innate and I love that. My daughter actually both my kids we've sort of taught my son, who's 16 months old, how to sign that he's had enough, and he'll sort of shake his fingers around or hands and that's his sign or his way of telling us that he's had enough. And it's almost like a bit of a relearning process for me and it's frustrating at times because he'll leave two mouthfuls of food and I'm just like, mate, can't you just finish it? I've got to tip the rest of the food out for up in the dishwasher. But for me it's about honoring that and trusting him and trusting both my kids that they know how much they need to put in their bodies. And, like you said before, I think we probably grew up with very similar food rules, maybe given that history as well, that we had to finish all our food on our plate and there were starving kids in Africa and because my grandparents didn't have that food when they were my age, that nothing should go to waste. So yeah, very much now I want that different experience for my kids and I think it's a matter of sometimes for adults to sort of recalibrate and relearn some of those strategies that we're sort of inbuilt with.

Speaker 1:

Indeed. So if you were like Joel and I and the blueprint you were given was perhaps one of diet culture, and now, as we're parents, you have these moments where it's kind of like there's a devil angel in your shoulder kind of thing. You're talking about this experience with your son where there's two bitefuls of food left and part of you is going, oh, we don't want to waste because that's how you were raised, but the other part of you is going, no, but I really want him to be able to trust his body. And so, sadly for us, if you were this generation who are deciding that we no longer pass down diet culture, we are the ones who have this internal battle where we do still have our brain, still does default into that old way of thinking, and then we need to quite consciously go. No, we're going to choose to think about things differently, but the gift we are giving to the next generation is that they won't have to have this whole conversation in their brain. It will not cross their mind whether or not they should finish the plate just to finish the plate, and I think this is what you're talking about we're moving toward. This is how you want to raise your kids to just like innately, know that they can trust it without having to have so much brain space occupied by how the right or quite the wrong way is to eat.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely spot on. And my daughter will often say my tummy's had enough and often think like who am I to argue with that? She knows her body better than anybody else and I'm never going to force the point, never going to. You know, there might be some gentle encouragement at times, but I'm never going to force at home that she has to, you know, either eat more or finish what's on her plate. No, I really want to instill that love of food but also allow her to build that trust that only she knows how much she needs to eat. And I back to my son. He's just a cool cat I often look at. He goes to childcare and on the childcare app it says how much they eat and I love that. Sometimes he'll get seconds and you know like I think that's awesome. And if he finishes all his food, like absolutely offer him more and allow him to regulate. It's not. It's not just like if he finishes his food he's had enough just because that's the food that was given, like let's also on the other end of that, sometimes the child needs more food. I often have these conversations in aged care, so like their constant conversations that I'm having with people, if you know you eat all your food.

Speaker 1:

What?

Speaker 2:

you know you might need a little bit more or sometimes you might not need as much, and appetite's one of those tricky things. But I think if we, if we give people that power back, without any of this noise and the pervasive nature of diet culture that tells you how much and when you need to eat, I think people would generally have that better relationship with their bodies and better relationships with their food and more trust in that appetite.

Speaker 1:

Spot on, because, you know, we were always getting people who are asking us how much I'm allowed to eat. That is great. How much I'm allowed, and the amount that we are allowed to eat is is our bodies constantly got these cues right. It's going to say my tummy won't let me have anymore, I'm feeling full, like Ruby says. Ruby gets it. If you feel sick, that's how much you were allowed. You can eat as much as you want. Your body is giving you these cues, trying to gently nudge you to eat an amount that feels comfortable for it. And so portion size is a bit of a silly thing, right? Because as you're saying is like you know, some days he needs seconds and some days the lesson that we're learning from our kids is they don't really eat that much and as parents, they can freak us out a little bit because we want them to eat that consistent thing. It's kind of how we were raised, joel. The thing I've been using about recently as a parent is this idea of food trust. I talk about food trust a lot, food trust being this idea that anytime I want food, I can have food, it's always allowed, I can eat as much as I need, and one of the kind of challenges I have is that we tell kids something like please eat your breakfast now, because there aren't going to be, you know, snacks for a while, or we just have them constantly. There's a constant flow of allowing them to have snacks and I haven't quite worked out how I feel about either of these things because, fundamentally, I think the most important thing for a healthy relationship with food is food trust, knowing that food is always allowed. This is the thing that allows us to go. No, I don't need to finish the plate because I know and trust if in 10 minutes, in an hour, in six hours, I want more, I can have more, and if you don't have that, then that's when you go. I have to compulsively eat this and because you feel like you know you're going to start again tomorrow. Do you have any thoughts about this? What are you guys doing in your household? Is it meal times? Meal time and you have to eat now because you won't eat for a while? Where do you sit?

Speaker 2:

It's a really tricky one. I probably have very similar thoughts and feelings, like you do. I mean firstly, first and foremost, it's that endless permission to nourish or to eat whenever you feel like it, which I think is is a really great strategy. Like you, there are times where you know there might not be food available for a little while and at one time it's K. What's that trick you want to navigate? Do you have a little snack just to tide you over? Do you encourage maybe a smaller meal just to see them through?

Speaker 1:

Does the type of snack matter as well, Like if you want to eat chips. Does that matter?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, look, I still very much try to have that nutrition lens. At least I'm offering that wide variety and at least ticking off the various food groups as well. That's also another consideration in my thinking when it comes to providing food for my kids. But yeah, look, it is a really tricky one. I remember giving some advice a little while ago and I probably disagree with it now, sort of, you know, talking about snacks and just making them constantly available. And I think, sometimes with kids at least what I've noticed with my kids and, look, everyone might be a little bit different, but having that little bit of structure when it comes to food around the day that around this time is going to be breakfast and around that time is going to be lunch, and same with snacks as well. So having some clear times in the day where you know if it's 4.30 in the afternoon it's not really a snack time because we're getting close to dinner. So it might be something like you know a really small piece of fruit or a handful of dried fruits, you know a rice cake with maybe some peanut butter, so little things like that. I mean it's you sort of adapt it as you need, but try to have at least, and I've noticed with my kids that they're pretty routine with their food intake as well. Five o'clock they tend to get pretty angry, so 5.15 tends to be around that dinner time. But I know that. You know, and that's the thing, there are curveballs always and things aren't always the same as well, and especially with kids, because they're not robots. So there are going to be times when they're going to be hungry, you know, outside of their normal window and that's totally okay. But you know, maybe adapting what you do around those times to sort of try your best to stick to a bit of a routine, or at least what works most of the time, is possibly good advice to follow.

Speaker 1:

So it sounds like, on the one hand, you are absolutely okay with your kids feeling what a certain level of hunger feels like Because I think this is something that often has died is we fear feeling hungry. We've never allowed ourselves to feel hungry and it can feel a bit of a scary thing. And so the kind of compromise I'm doing in my household at the moment is that we do have our set times where we have breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and in between that time, if you want to eat, mom's always got an apple for you. You know it's a peanut butter. The apple, no problem, that's sweet. But you know what we're not having. We're not having all the snacky yummy little. You know the. You know the little rice crack, the salty rice, crackery things and the and the muesli bar, and you know there are. There are certain things that this is a between meal kind of thing, so that the hunger can be fulfilled and we're not just getting them into the pattern of endless grazing so that they're fear, so that they never experience hunger, but at the same time we don't want them to fear hunger. So it is a bit of a juggle, isn't it?

Speaker 2:

It really is. I actually like that strategy so I might employ it myself. And, as I said before, I'm constantly learning strategies and I haven't quite worked out the language that I want to use around food. I'm very much, you know, food is food. Food is morally neutral. There's no good food or bad food. But this, you know, this idea of probably be outdated now, but like everyday versus sometimes foods, I used to use that a lot before kids. I don't use it anymore, but I just haven't quite landed on you know what's the more nutritious or what's the less nutritious food.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I think fundamentally, some food is healthier than others and we can't deny that. I do think that you'd surprising how much you can get away with not even labeling it at all and just talking about food as food, as you've kind of rightly pointed out. I also agree. I think I've moved away from the sometimes and everyday food that also kind of feels like it doesn't gel with my approach so much anymore. We are constantly evolving, isn't that right? I, you know, I think of my son. I don't know if I should share this. I can't tell. You know, if my son goes to the toilet and he's struggling, he might say to me, mom, I need more fiber. And I say, yes, you need more fiber. So we're always talking about the things that are in food as opposed to the things that we need to avoid. So I think that's another thing where people are like, oh, you can't have watermelon, it's got sugar in it. Firstly, please eat watermelon. It's delicious and wonderful and, yes, it has sugar. With those, you know, that's fructose. It's a lovely kind of sugar wrapped up with antioxidants. But I think I often hear parents talking about the reasons why we shouldn't eat food. And what if we focused on the reasons to enjoy food. You know it could be. Cake is delicious and that's why we enjoy it, but it could also be. You know, this dried apricot has fiber and that's great. It helps us poo. You know we can have these conversations, so, rather than yeah, labeling things, I think you're doing the right thing and that you don't need to have a label at all. I really like that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's a tricky one. I mean, I know my daughter cake is like a party food and you know there was Halloween six weeks or so ago and my daughter will still talk about the Halloween treats that she got. I don't like the word treat either, but yeah, it is a really tricky one. But absolutely let's focus on things that food can help with, like dairy is great for our muscles and our bones and prunes and apricots can help us poo and like. These are probably the things that kids should have some basic understanding of, and not that food is sugar and sugar is bad for us. I rolled my eyes recently at a pair and it talks about the sugar high and it was in right in front of my kids and I'm like don't, don't use terms like that. And you know, as much as we want to protect our kids, I think, unfortunately, the wider world can still have that impact and I hope that because our kids are sponges, they're going to take it all in. I just I don't want them. I don't want that to complicate things in their own mind.

Speaker 1:

I'm sure, listening to this podcast right now, there are parents who have used the term sugar high before without realizing that it might be a bit confusing or not the best thing to be saying. Can you explain to us a little bit why the term sugar high isn't something that you would use as a parent?

Speaker 2:

I mean, firstly, it's unnecessary. I mean food, whatever food it is, it's a source of energy, so energy can make us high and allow us to play sport and run around and play at a playground and do all those things. I think we're, you know, we're once again we're sort of got that reductionist approach, like you said before, where you know we're focusing on the one I'll call it nutrient inverted commas. That might be bad for us we're you know but at the same time excluding all the other good parts within the food of where it's walking out fruit. People are very quick to judge and say it's a, it's a source of sugar, but I think it's, it's that wrong label. Let's focus on all the good things that food provides us. So it is that energy. It does help us learn, it does help us grow, it does help us play, it does help us perform and be better, and I think it's that negative pejorative label that we put on foods and you know one element of food that might have a negative impact. So I certainly don't like terms like sugar high or even you know, I think I don't think Ruby would understand or even know. I've heard the word sugar before, so I'm hoping that that just was like Vaseline and didn't it just brushed off? No-transcript.

Speaker 1:

Joel, you've run a campaign that's centered around empowering men to get into the kitchen. You sound like as a dad. Getting your kids in the kitchen is something that's really important to you. How can we get kids involved in the kitchen and teaching them the right way to view food?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, look, it's so funny. You talked about that evolution before. I feel like a lot of the time I was talking to men and then once I had kids, it sort of it's shifted. So maybe the campaign has evolved to get your kids in the kitchen. I think it's all part of that building that healthy relationship with food. I mean, I really want my kids to have a great understanding of where their food comes from. And just on a side note, it's probably a bit of more convenience. I don't like to. I won't use the word lazy, but during COVID times we got our food delivered and it's just so easy and it's cost effective and whatever else. But it's sort of you know, it's something that I think about a lot, that my kids think that food arrives on a Saturday morning from the delivery man and that's how we get our food. But I think it's a fun. I mean just cooking it. It's a fundamental skill that we all should have. I think about my dad. I mean my dad's incredibly book smart, but dad's got no idea how to navigate in the kitchen. I'm not sure if my dad will be listening to this podcast, but I'm happy to share that. My wife and I had a conversation about him the other day that we were unsure if he could make a piece of toast without burning the house down, so we didn't give him that responsibility.

Speaker 1:

Shame Joel's dad, Sorry.

Speaker 2:

He was looking after the baby and needed to feed him lunch. So we just thought we'd take that pressure off everybody and have everything ready to go. And I think, yeah, I want my kids to experiment with food and once again, it's part of that loving your food and understanding how things can change. And when we cook something and when we bake it or boil it, it's going to come out in a different way and it really is that fundamental life skill that we all should have. And I think it also has added benefits. I mean, I think there's so much fun that you can have in the kitchen. I love bonding with my kids in the kitchen. I haven't quite got Raf in there to do much cooking. He does some mixing and more observing, but Ruby's a keen participant and she loves everything about it and it doesn't matter what we prepare For her. I think there's that element of satisfaction when you create something from scratch or when you see a project from its beginning to its very end point. So I love that. I love that you know we can just be playful in the kitchen. We can embrace mess. I think a lot of parents are a mess averse and I think that's probably why parents don't cook more with their kids. It's often more time consuming as well, but it teaches kids maths. You can have great conversations in the kitchen talking about foods. You can talk about once again, like we've spoken about, why foods or how foods actually are good for us, and let's make it a positive rather than negative. So I would encourage all parents who are listening in just to. I mean, you can set the bar low. It doesn't have to be an elaborate meal, but maybe it's the weekend pancakes or it's banana bread or it's a bowl of cereal or bowl of porridge. Just get your kids interested in learning about food and the wonderful things that food can give us. I would love to make that my mission. It's always. When I started it was it was blokes, and I'd still love to see more blokes getting in the kitchen. But I would definitely like to see more parents engage their kids to cook more and have more of those conversations and give some of those life lessons. I think there's so many lessons we want to give our kids and sometimes I think you know, cooking is more of an afterthought. But I'd like to think that I'm in a good relationship with food with my kids and part of that is through that cooking process.

Speaker 1:

Jeez. I love it because I think cooking is such a vehicle to have really good conversations about our kids, especially the way that we know that boys interact. They typically will stand side by side when they have an intimate conversation, because sometimes you can feel a little bit less confrontational and you might find your kids come out with some gems or something that's hard for them, that probably wouldn't have come out if you weren't standing side by side with them in the kitchen. It's building that self esteem right of them, kind of going. Listen, I failed, but actually I created this thing and it was brilliant. And I find with my kids are so much more likely to eat the food when they make it. I feel like they feel really proud. And if I make it and he's not involved in it, he's much less likely to eat it. And I think if you've got a fussy eating kids, if there's one thing I would say of all the things you could do, I would say get your kids cooking and put it low pressure. You do not need to try the food. Do not tell them just have one bite, no, just get them to do it with you and then put the food on the table and if they are curious enough to try it. I bet you at some point, if you'd be consistent with that, there is going to be something they're going to go. I will give that a go Then. I think that is a key one. And just one more thing on this Well, I've got this thought is a learning tower. If you've got little kids, I've got the toddler and the learning tower. If you don't know what that is, it's kind of like a ladder platform where they can climb up and they stand at bench level. This is such a fundamental kitchen tool for us. I will resell it on Facebook marketplace once I no longer need it and, as a result, I swear I probably wouldn't have spent much money on it at all. I know it is a bit of an investment, but then you will get your money back. And plus, when you think about cooking, it is self-care. There is no better lesson we can give our kids in self-care is to how to feed themselves, something they will do multiple times a day for their entire life. So I know we're spending time on long division and an old bunch of other things, but I think teaching them how to feed themselves is such a fundamental one that, joel, I hope this is your mission and something that I want you to champion. I think it's really essential.

Speaker 2:

Thank you. You put it so much better than I could and I was enthusiastically nodding when you were talking as well. And yes, we've got a learning tower, we've actually got the double learning tower, which is awesome. And I think you're right. Some of the research actually does show that when kids are involved in that cooking process they're more inclined to try the food. And I had a great example yesterday. I was actually doing a cooking class. We were making cookies and in my cookie there was cranberries. And I think these two young girls probably not much older than six or seven, I don't think they ever tried cranberries before, and they tried one just by itself and they didn't really like it, so they didn't include it in their cookie and that was totally fine. But I had some pre-prepared cookies that actually had the cranberries in it and they ate it and they really enjoyed it. So there you go, just a great example where you know the kids are possibly more inclined to try that food. And I like your point as well around the no pressure and it's something that we're very big on as well never encourage just a bite or just try it. You know we're firming the idea that dinner is dinner and that's what's on offer and we really try to have a bit of a consultative process as well, particularly with Ruby. She can tell us what she wants to eat. We've sort of got this. You know, rotating menu obviously tried to have a variety different dishes each week, but giving her that ownership as well. But you know, this is dinner, there's nothing else. You can take it or leave it and yeah, but very much having that. No pressure doesn't have to try, it doesn't have to finish it. This is dinner and this is what you're getting, and more often than not, yeah, better like it. Yeah, of course I hope you like it, that enjoyment factor to. That's all part of it.

Speaker 1:

There was this point. Every time I cook with my son, or especially baking you talked about the mess factor before I can, as he's going to add things, I feel myself wanting to like control it so he doesn't spill the flower everywhere. And in that moment I can feel myself going, oh my goodness, he's going to make such a mess. I hate this and I have to, I have to very consciously say to myself Lindy, he's allowed to make mistakes, he's going to make a mess. You'll clean up this mess and it'll be fine, and it's such a mental process for me, but I see it as so important and such a valuable thing that I have to like literally unfurl my hands from the tight grip from the flower and just let him make a real mess of it. So I really like that idea of also just like allowing it to be messy.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, no, I hear you, because the kitchen's my domain, it's like my workspace, so I have that too. It's so easy to intervene, but I know that it's all part of the fun. My wife's a kindergarten teacher so she really embraces mess, so I've learned a lot from her as well. But yeah, I don't ever want that to be a consideration of why I shouldn't be including my kids in the kitchen. I think everything else trumps that mess.

Speaker 1:

Joel, just bring the conversation back now to body image. What advice would you give to parents of young boys when it comes to body image? Maybe something that you wish had been done differently in your house, or one thing you'll be doing with your kids?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, look, body image for me was a big issue. It was wrapped up in my walked relationship with food and it was very much focused on what my body looked like. The conversations I have with the kids are very much around the amazing things our bodies can do, and I love that. I love that, particularly the conversations with Ruby. Being four, she's focused on her body being able to climb and to do various obstacle courses and draw and paint and heal when she has a scratch. These are things that I want to focus on. Ruby's a big lover of books and certainly of animals as well, and something that I've wanted to teach her At an early age is that no two bodies are the same and just because a body looks different, it's not that it's any less value. And we've got a book about a three-legged cat and three-legged cat can do pretty much everything that a four-legged cat can do. And actually we saw a three-legged dog the other day and I was purposeful. I pointed it out to Ruby just to show her that this dog was walking around happy as Larry, just like any other dog. It just so happened to have three legs and that it was a little bit different. But the conversation for me around body image is that it's very much around what our bodies can do rather than what our bodies look like. So Ruby's never said that body's fat, that body's ugly. It's always about you know, wow, look at all the cool things that body can do and look at the cool things that my body will be able to do as I grow older.

Speaker 1:

So just like all the dogs of the dog park. You've got your poodles and your schnauzers and your coca spaniels and your golden retrievers, and they're all very different, but they're all beautiful and adorable and great.

Speaker 2:

Exactly this dog, that dog I think it is. This dog is tired. This dog is not tired. Look, you know all the opposites. You know you're right, they're all dogs. They can all do different things. They will have different abilities. So I think that's really cool to focus on and I love that. They're almost like a blank canvas to our kids and you know you can teach them so much, but at the same time, they teach us so much. I'm almost reliving my childhood in a different light. I'm having a much better experience the second time around. Let me tell you.

Speaker 1:

I certainly feel that way as well. The second time arounds can be a whole lot better. I think sometimes, as well as parenting, we're healing from some of the stuff we had when we were a child. We're realising how to do things differently and also realising that we probably will make mistakes along the way, and our goal is to create kids who become adults who are resilient enough to overcome them and do better with their kids.

Speaker 2:

Yes, how good will that process be? It's like every generation builds on the faults of their others and learns from the lessons, and learns from the things that you know. Maybe, wait, they wish they had differently. And it's certainly something that I've thought a lot about, and for me, food is so central in my life and I know how debilitating that poor relationship with food can be on someone's wellbeing, and that's why I want a vastly different experience for my kids. So if there's one thing that I really want to instill in my kids, it's having that healthy relationship with their bodies as well as food.

Speaker 1:

Well, it sounds like your kids got lucky to have you as a dad. Joel Farron, thank you so much for coming on the no Wellness Wankery podcast. Everyone, I will leave links below where you can find Joel. Follow him on Instagram. Please do go check him out. He is brilliant and he really encourages us to get in the kitchen and I think everyone should go follow him. Thank you, Joel. Thank you so much, Lindy.

Speaker 2:

I really appreciate it.

Speaker 1:

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Raising Kids With Healthy Body Image
Healthy Food and Trusting Body Relationship
Food Labels and Language for Kids
Empowering Kids Through Cooking
Building Resilient Generations