It’s another big festive season here in Singapore with Chinese New Years just over a week away, just after Valentine’s Day. This means lots of family meals which is accompanied by weight issues for many people and concerns that the kids are eating too much, or too little, or too many sweet treats.
In Asian culture there tends to be an emphasis on appearance, body size, and food. Culture is often taken for granted and not realized of the impact it has on one’s life. For Asian culture, communication if often uncensored, with comments about weight and eating often noted casually. During the holiday gatherings, it is common for family members to comment on or encourage what a child eats or their size. You will hear comments like: “you’re eating too much” or “you’re eating too little” to the kids, or “why are you eating that” or “you’ve grown”, or “you need to eat more to get bigger.”
For me, this initially felt strange as growing up in Western culture, talking about weight is considered impolite, so not many people talk about weight. Although I was thinking about it, and it is not okay usually to talk about someone’s size unless you say something about “you’re looking good, did you lose weight?” Which is considered socially acceptable. Culture gets complicated, doesn’t it!
All these discussions about what people are eating and weight, are the basis of our beliefs. So, for our little one’s, what they hear, what they experience, and what they learn via family and culture is what builds their belief system. This belief system can be positive or negative with regards to eating behaviours. So, I just want to challenge you to think about how you are going to handle these situations when they come up. Now, it may not be a real concern for you right now, but in reality, we don’t really know how our kids internalize things and even if it seems fine at the moment, certain experiences and sayings can have long lasting impacts on kids. I know it has for me. What I heard and learned as a child has played a huge role on how I think about myself and food now. So, think about when these things come up at your feasts next week, how do you want to handle it. I’d love to hear how you are handling these situations and what your biggest concerns are heading into the holidays.