How does a parent teach their kids healthy skills and positive ideas when it comes to food? What can you do to help your kids develop basic critical thinking when it comes to finding information on the internet? Why should you be proactive in talking with kids about bodily changes? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about how parents can foster healthy body images for their children with Charlotte Markey.


Charlotte Markey, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology and founding director of the Health Sciences Center at Rutgers University (Camden). Dr. Markey writes monthly for U.S. News and World Report (Eat + Run blog), Psychology Today (Smart People Don’t Diet blog), as well as other publications, focusing on individuals’ eating behaviors, body image, and health.

Her research has garnered widespread media attention, and she has been featured in and interviewed by The New York Times, The Economist, US News and World Report.  She also conducts seminars, talks, and presentations to hundreds of people a year, primarily in the tri-state area.  Both her teaching and research have received awards, including the Chancellor’s Teaching Award, the Faculty Scholar-Teacher Award, and the Annual Faculty Fellowship at Rutgers University.

Visit Charlotte Markey's website and The Body Image Book For Girls. Connect on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


  • Teaching your kids good skills
  • Parenting children through natural body changes
  • Be proactive
  • Find what’s true and real above the noise

Teaching your kids good skills

There’s a lot of conflicting information and a lot of misinformation in public spaces about nutrition and a lot of rigidity in terms of how people think about feeding kids. (Charlotte Markey)
Teaching your children how to have a healthy relationship with food and eating habits is one of the biggest challenges that parents face. So much has changed in society over the last few decades that the way today’s parents were brought up is very different from the environment that their young children are raised in.
And so that requires a real reframing for many of us and when we approach our own kids … most parents I talk to want to do that reframing and think about this [in different ways]. (Charlotte Markey)

Parenting children through natural body changes

One of the best pieces of advice that Charlotte offers parents is to encourage them to speak with their kids before the body changes occur.
To start to talk about health issues and even issues about puberty before it’s relevant because … it’s easier. When it’s happening [in reality] there’s a lot more emotion I think for both parents and kids. (Charlotte Markey)
It’s not that you’re necessarily having the talk with kids that young, but essentially you are normalizing changes that happen because they are, in fact, normal. Make the discussions about taking care of bodies, and that they change, and how to take care of yourself a normal and natural occurrence in your household.

Be proactive

Children are naturally curious. They want to learn about the world and understand new things, especially things that interest their peers or the “older kids” that they might look up to. Rather be proactive in teaching your children healthier, more loving, and compassionate ways to view the world, their bodies, and the bodies of others than leaving them to learn about those things from someone else who might be less kind or open-minded.
Where do you get reliable information? Our kids are Googling this stuff to understand their own anatomy, and you don’t want your kid Googling “penis” or something [because] they’re going to get a lot of things you don’t want. (Charlotte Markey)
Body anatomy in books designed to teach younger teenagers and older children about their bodies is far tamer than what is out there on the internet. Equip your child with a healthier outlook on life and body by having these discussions with them sooner rather than later.

Find what’s true and real above the noise

Be mindful of the internet. It is a great tool that can be used to gather a wide range of interesting information, but there is also very little regulation, and almost anyone can say anything on there that they want to.
I think there’s some good information on TikTok, I’m not going to lie, I think that kids are better informed than a lot of things because they have easy access to information – but there’s also a lot of bad information … and [kids’] brains are not very good at ignoring something that seems flashy or that they want to believe. (Charlotte Markey)
Teach your children critical thinking and how to pick up on false news, and misinformation, and generally not to just blindly believe everything that they see, read, or hear. This is also something parents should learn too! However, practice being perceptive. Is this information genuine, fact-checked, and true? Or is the source trying to get you to buy something or has a bias?



  I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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