WithAll Blog


5 Phrases to Say to Kids and Why They Matter

Feb 11, 2021

It’s valuable that children know you accept them for who they are. Decades of research have shown that how adults talk to kids about food and body has a direct influence on their self-concept. A child with a poor self-concept is more likely to experience negative physical and mental health consequences. Telling the kids in your life “You’re wonderful as you are” builds them up.

“Food is the fuel your body and brain need to power your day.”

We live in a diet-obsessed culture where kids overhear endless messages about counting calories, restricting food groups, and good or bad foods. Instead, they need to hear more about balance and variety. Let them know that food is what gives them the energy to do the things they love.

“Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.”

Dislike of one’s body can start at a young age and can contribute to low self-esteem, shame, and unhealthy eating behaviors as kids grow. Let kids know that the size and shape of their bodies aren’t what makes them healthy, strong, or beautiful. Positively speak about your own body and focus on what bodies help us do. “I’m grateful for my legs because I can run fast.”

“When you eat, listen to your stomach. It will tell you when to stop.”

Research shows that associating food with things other than sensations of hunger or fullness can negatively impact a child’s ability to self-regulate how much they eat. Instead of using food as a reward or comfort, or making kids be part of the “clean plate club”, encourage them to listen to their bodies when they eat. Model this by saying things like “My stomach feels full. I don’t need to eat more right now.”

“You look [emotion]. How do you feel?”

Focusing on how kids feel rather than on how they look helps them understand that what’s on the inside is what matters. Instead of saying “You look so cute today”, try focusing on the emotion you see them expressing: “You look sad [happy] [excited]. How do you feel?”


What to Say Coaches Challenge

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Take The Pledge

THE PLEDGE: I believe that words matter. I want to make a positive impact on the kids in my life by stopping harmful diet and weight talk. I am committed to making sure that every child gets a chance to develop healthy relationships with food and body.


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Shannon assists with the logistics of development and operations and making every day run as smoothly as possible. Her day-to-day focuses on our Recovery Support Program, budget management, events, and administrative support. She enjoys being part of the nonprofit world and finding ways to help enhance the organization. She has a heart for serving others and helping people succeed.

Shannon has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Health & Exercise Science from Gustavus Adolphus College and a Master’s in Public Health (MPH) from Walden University.

Outside of work, you can find Shannon chasing her two girls around, attending sporting events and finding the next brewery or winery to explore.

Lindsay leads our operations, programming, fundraising, and communications to better fulfill our mission. She enjoys engaging with our supporters and stakeholders to build stronger connections to our work. Outside the office, you can find her planning her next trip, exploring the Twin Cities, or reading her book club’s latest pick.

With ten years of experience in nonprofit and foundation administration, Lindsay is a creative project manager working to strengthen all our operations. She loves being a part of a team deeply dedicated to discovering innovative and effective strategies to end eating disorders and is excited to invite others into this important work. Efficient and collaborative, she executes activity across all operations, including fundraising, events, communications, and programming. Lindsay has a bachelor’s degree in public relations from the University of Northwestern, St. Paul, and a fundraising certificate from the University of St. Thomas. She and her family live in Richfield, MN.

As Executive Director, Lisa leads WithAll’s strategic growth as a sustainable social enterprise dedicated to the prevention of and healing from eating disorders.

Lisa has more than 20 years of experience in public affairs, community relations, and law, and nearly 15 years of experience in non-profit leadership, most recently at Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media. She is a graduate of Mitchell Hamline School of Law, a member of the Minnesota Bar, and a Minnesota Supreme Court appointee to Minnesota’s Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board. She volunteers with her daughter’s school and with youth sports.

Lisa does this work because she knows eating disorders are not a choice; they are deadly, and they are everywhere. She also knows kids are not born with harmful thoughts and actions around food or their body—and it’s our job as adults to keep it this way so they can focus their precious brains and time on things that matter.

Lisa finds laughter, all children, and the numerous variations of sparkling water to be delightful.