Victoria Beckham is said to eat the same meal every day. We wanted to know from a paediatrician what triggers such eating behavior in children and how parents can avoid eating disorders in their offspring.
This article originally appeared on ELTERN.de.
According to David Beckham, 46, his wife Victoria, 47, only eats the same food every day – and has been for 25 years! The fashion designer is said to eat steamed vegetables with grilled fish every day. In a podcast, the former soccer player opened up about his wife’s special eating habits and revealed that only being pregnant with daughter Harper, 10, made the mother of four stray from her strict diet. In the meantime, the Beckham offspring (Brooklyn, 22, Romeo, 19, Cruz, 16 and Harper, 10) have grown up and the question still arises: Can such eating habits have a negative impact on the children?
To do this, we worked with the specialist in paediatrics and youth medicine, Dr. Tanja Brunnert from Göttingen spoken.
PARENTS: Dr. Brunnert, to what extent can children copy an eating disorder from their parents? Is that possible and if so, how?
dr Tanya Brunert: Of course, parents do not only act as role models for their children in their eating habits. Eating habits often affect the whole family: if we as parents only consume sweetened drinks, the child will not reach for water. This is why unhealthy diets in children are often so difficult to influence, since ultimately the lifestyle factors in the family have to be changed. Manifest eating disorders, which are very often associated with a disturbed body image, can also affect the children’s eating habits.
Fashion designer Victoria Beckham has been accused of eating the same thing every day for 25 years. What do you think of the fashion designer’s restricted diet?
Of course, I can’t really judge the habits of the Beckham family. But here it certainly depends on whether, for example, the table for the family meal is richly set and children are given a selection of sensible foods right from the start – and only mum then always reaches for the same foods – or whether all family members are only fed very one-sidedly .
How could such a restricted diet affect your children?
Having special preferences yourself and then expecting the children to eat a healthy and balanced diet often becomes difficult as the children get older.
What typical eating habits do you often observe in parents that can have a negative impact on children?
Avoiding breakfast, sweetened drinks, fast food, preferring foods with a high energy density, such as sweets, snacks and crisps, but also cheese, butter and sausage. For example, the motto “meat is my vegetable” is not particularly exemplary.
Is it often fathers, mothers or even grandparents who model unhealthy eating habits or bad behavior patterns for their children?
The course for healthy nutrition is set within the family. Especially with overweight children, it is sometimes difficult to convince all family members that it is not cute when the four-year-old eats the third bratwurst. Everyone has to pull together here. But repeated and persistent dieting can also set a “poor role model” for children.
And as a parent, how does one set a good example for children when it comes to nutrition?
Something of everything is the motto. Eating a healthy mixed diet and getting enough exercise is important to be a good role model for children.
How can a mother or father who has had an eating disorder in the past set a good example for their children and empower themselves and their children?
This question is very difficult to answer in general. Here it is certainly crucial in which phase of their own illness the mothers or fathers are. But it is important – and this may be very difficult for parents who have not yet been treated – that the children are given enough self-confidence with regard to their own bodies. Maybe the child is “special” in one or the other place and that’s all good and right. Such self-esteem may be the best protection against an eating disorder. What is also helpful: Discuss with the children early on and again and again that not every “peer pressure” should be taken part in. Principles such as: “Your friends are your friends because they like you the way you are” can strengthen children.
Should parents be open with their children about their own illnesses or addictions?
The extent to which you tell your children about your own illness and about your own experiences is certainly a case-by-case decision and very dependent on the age and stage of development of the children. Overloading must be avoided in all cases.