Modelling Healthy Lifestyles
At BridgeCross Residential Treatment for Eating Disorders, we believe that responsibility is a learned behaviour. Individuals within our programs learn by example to be responsible for their own actions and attitudes, as well as their path in life. Employees model responsibility in their teaching, planning and pursuit of good health and a well balanced lifesyle. The Residential and Clinical Team demonstrate responsibility through careful planning and implementation of individualized and meaningful programs, which will assist each child and employee in achieving their goals.
You too can model responsibility towards good health and a well balanced lifestyle!
Here are some ways you can do so:
- Model a healthy lifestyle. When others see you eating well and being physically active in a normal, ongoing way, without preaching or over-emphasis, they will accept these behaviors as normal. You can be a role model to guide them.
- Remind people how to identify symptoms of stress: shallow, fast breathing; sweaty palms; racing heart; headaches or stomachaches; a panicky sensation. Suggest things to do to calm down.
- Model and teach ways to deal with stress and conflict: deep breathing, progressive relaxation exercises, a solitary walk, quiet time alone, listening to or playing music. You can also teach ways to deal with stressful situations, such as:
- Make a list of the things you have to do and put them in order of importance.
- Practice talking positively to yourself to get you through the effects of a poor decision or unhappy result: it was one incident, not your whole life.
- Keep a journal to help you understand your feelings and thoughts.
- Think up new ways to cope and share them with others.
- Help others to develop self-esteem based on qualities other than physical appearance: comment on and affirm characteristics that contribute to the smooth working of a study group or class. Be specific with your compliments:
- Help other individuals to have realistic expectations of themselves and others.
- Encourage individuals to take ownership of their accomplishments and talents.
- Encourage and affirm personally and socially responsible behavior.
- Don’t ignore negative comments about physical appearance, including size, shape, cultural dress or race. Do not allow belittling remarks based on racial, sexist or other stereotypes. Use them as teachable moments without shaming anyone.
- Teach critical thinking skills. Help others learn to analyze, synthesize, apply and evaluate.
- Teach about aspects of self and life that one can influence, and help people feel stronger and more able to cope.
- Get rid of your diet! Fight against the main cause of eating disorders – dieting. All you need is a trashcan. Put one in your office, school or home. Get rid of all those negative products in your life. Fill it with dieting how-to guides, calorie counters, bathroom scales, diet pills, laxatives and other diet products. Be real. Free your body and your mind. Spend your money and your passion on something that matters.
- Get rid of your scale! Numbers can be deceiving. Listen to your body. Let it tell you how healthy you are. Remember that your weight is not a measurement of your health or self-worth. Make health and vitality your goal, not a specific weight. Read about Dieting Facts & Fiction and how diets that restrict calories are harmful to your emotional and physical health.
- Avoid labeling food “bad,” “sinful,” or “junk food.” Labels like this can make you feel guilty or ashamed for eating “bad food”. If we think this way, we can restrict, and then binge, on certain foods. Remember that a healthy diet includes both regularly eating nutritious food and occasionally eating less nutritious, high calorie food. Use different labels for food like “sometimes food” and “everyday food.”
- Do not encourage or laugh at jokes that make fun of a person’s size or body.
- Find a direct and gentle way to say that a person’s worth and morality are not related to how they look.
- Criticize the culture that promotes unhealthy body image, not your self.
- Look at how encouraging people to dislike their bodies help to sell products. Even young children can understand this. Encourage children to question, evaluate and respond to the messages that promote unhealthy body image and low self-esteem.
- Tell the media what you think: they do listen.
- Write a letter to the editor of a newspaper; call a TV station, radio station or newspaper. Let them know what you think of their advertisements, articles, stories, etc. Organize a shredding table at a local community center and invite the public to bring and shred their most despised adverts and articles. Provide a paper shredder or scissors and a wastepaper basket. Invite the media. Work within your community to gather petitions through schools, community health centers and youth organizations. Help raise awareness of harmful images and messages by contacting local media activism organizations, such as MediaWatch or Adbusters. Send copies of the petitions to the offending company and to your provincial or federal standards association. The Advertising Standards Canada is one such association responsible for all print and television advertisements in Canada. Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) also deal with any radio, televised or Internet complaints.
- Tell advertisers how much you appreciate positive advertisements. This increases the likelihood of them using more inclusive and real images.
- Celebrate Eating Disorder Awareness Month (EDAM) and International No Diet Day in your community.