Sunday, February 22, 2009

You know more than you think you do

That was the message that Dr Benjamin Spock had for parents back in the 1960’s. This was the message I learnt last night on an ABC show ‘Bringing Up Baby’ which follows 6 couples bringing up children using last centuries most popular parenting techniques. Now I should clarify – I have no children, nor am I likely to have any children in the next few years. But a lot of my friends already have babies or are about to, so I have heard a lot about parenting recently. Facing up to the inevitable (children) I listen with interest to all their hardships and theories thinking about what I would do differently or wondering how I would cope.

What got me watching last night, was that phrase – Trust yourself: you know more than you think you do. Dr Spock’s message was that the strict parenting styles of the 1950’s that dictated for example that you should not pick up your baby or you will spoil them were flawed. He suggested that the one-size-fits all approach did not reflect that parents know their children best. He urged parents to use a flexible approach to parenting that would be reflective of each child’s individuality. That was exactly what some friends advised after the birth of their second child, when they threw away the ‘rule’ book and listened to their baby. The other thing that Dr Spock suggested was that parents have fun being parents and enjoy their child’s development.

Now how does this relate to anything about being healthy and losing weight? Well, it made me think even further about what I have mentioned in previous posts about listening to yourself. If the number of parenting books is in the hundreds of thousands, then the number of diet books must be double that. Everywhere you turn there are books, magazines, newspaper articles and tv shows telling you how to lose weight. Not only that but manufacturer’s are creating ‘100 calorie snacks’, all the fast food joints have their ‘healthy options’, cat food is advertised as ‘low fat’ and we are telling the government to introduce legislation over junk food advertising and blaming the media for showing us itsy bitsy models. Effectively, the control over our bodies is out of our hands and into the outstretched arms of the ‘experts’ that form the diet industry. There are so many diets and so much advice out there about every food under the sun (and those from laboratories), analysed based on all manner of scales like GI or whatsitmadooba. It’s enough that those who don’t need to lose weight are panicking over their food choices and hating their bodies.

What I think we need more of is trust in our own wisdom and knowledge of our bodies. In reality most people know that potato chips and cheesecake aren’t all that good for them and vegetables are. No diet book is required to tell you that – after all I just did! But even with the knowledge we have, we relinquish control and follow the various prescriptions of low carb, no carb, high fat, low fat, or no snacks.

My aim this year is as stated ‘to end the war between mind and body’ and the only way to do that is to listen to what my body says. Since tunning in at the start of the year, it’s been pretty clear what it wants. At first my body was a little timid, but soon it gained confidence and started speaking out. It tells me loud and clear when I need to get up off the computer chair or it’s eaten enough or it really isn’t interested in food at the moment. In fact in the past, if I haven’t done any exercise for long enough, I would start having repeated dreams about jogging! So, I am going to keep following Dr Spock’s advice for myself and who knows maybe one day listen to it raising my children.

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