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9 Ways To Raise Your Child Without Gender Bias

9 Ways To Raise Your Child Without Gender Bias

It’s hard to believe that even in today’s open society where people feel more free to be themselves, we are still bombarded with the sort of gender stereotypes that were still just as prevalent 50 years ago. Pink is for girls, blue is for boys. Dolls are meant to be played with by little girls, and trucks and action figures are reserved for – you guessed it – little boys. Don’t let anyone catch a boy trying on his mother’s high heels for fun, or a girl watching a football game attentively, longing to be a part of the team. Because those things are not for their genders, right?

Wrong. But you knew that already, didn’t you? There is no research to suggest that a boy with an interest in playing dress up, or even makeup and nail polish, will grow up to be the next crazed serial killer. Likewise, a young girl who prefers sneakers to ballet slippers will not later become some ball-busting masculine-driven woman. Though even if she did, what is the real harm in that?

The solution is to start early with your children, by refusing to give into the gender-biased rules set by society and retailers. It may be hard, because other parents are nothing if not incredibly judgmental of the moms and dads around them. But stick to these tips to try your best to live by and you may just be gifted with a well-rounded, intelligent child. Go figure, right?

1. Integrate All Toys

This means that if you have a son, allow him the opportunity to explore what is deemed as the “girls” toy section at department stores. Don’t be so quick to steer him in the direction of those super hero masks. But to be fair, maybe after he has had the chance to peruse the latest Barbie Dolls, let him wander over to the other options.

If you give a little girl a doll, she will take care of it and remain motherly and affectionate as if that baby doll were her own real child. If you hand one to your young son, he will cradle it and be maternal and loving and treat it as if it were his own real child.

But first he needs to have the opportunity to do this, to explore a softer side of himself, and at a young age too. The earlier they can learn that there are no boundaries in playtime, the quicker they will catch on that it is entirely okay to mix their building blocks with their tea set.

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2. Shop In Both Sections

This goes for both clothes and toys, but you already know a bit about the toy situation, eh? Target recently announced that it will soon be doing away with gender-based sections of their children’s departments, opting for signs that say something like “Kids Clothing” instead of the requisite “Boys Clothing” and “Girls Clothing.”

And rightfully so. The whole assumption that all boys should wear blues and greens and girls should stick to pinks and purples is simply outdated. We’ve all seen the rather tacky shirts that say things like “real men wear pink,” but maybe they’re on to something.

If we can start the notion early that boys are allowed to wear pastels and shades of blue and girls are permitted to opt for simply graphic tees over their frilly capped shirts, then there will be less room for gender-biased actions later.

3. Promote Sports And Culture Together

It may come as no surprise to see this mentioned yet again, but we cannot stress enough how important it is to make it clear to your children early on that they have the option to participate in any extracurricular activities that they are interested in. No, this doesn’t mean forcing your son into a tutu or steadfastly convincing your daughter that she wants to be an umpire, but give them the choice to try out a little of everything.

Take your son to both a football game and a ballet recital. Let your daughter experience a baseball game, and follow it up with a cheer-leading competition event. Whatever gender-themed activity you thought you had to steer clear from because your child isn’t the “right” gender, well, think again.

Give yourself some breathing room mentally and give your child the chance to choose for themselves.

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4. Promote All Colors For Both Genders

Yes, this goes for clothing, as we mentioned before, but it also applies to pretty much everything else in life. Your first mistake may be in painting the nursery blue upon the news that you’re having a boy.

Don’t get us wrong, blue is a great color and if you really enjoy it, then by all means, go ahead. But if the only reason you chose it was because it is “for boys” isn’t the right reason. Skip ahead a few years, as you’re taking your son shopping for school supplies.

If he selects the pink pencil case, don’t be so quick to try and sway him away from it and to a more “masculine” color. We get it that you may be envisioning other kids teasing him, but the last thing you want to do is stifle him in any way.

5. Expose Them To The Correct Terminology

When you’re doing pretty much anything with your kids, from choosing a bike to picking out curtains, there is inevitably the mention of something being a “girl color” or a “boy bike.” This of course goes back to these ideas already being firmly implanted in us.

We get it, you can’t help but think of that as the first thing that comes to mind. But the whole idea is to train yourself to stop thinking that way as you raise your children to think freely and as neutrally as possible.

Be generous with your praises of both your daughter and son being “beautiful.” Even throw in some “pretties” now and again. The more you use such terms neutrally, the more naturally they feel.

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6. Share Chores With Your Spouse

As your children grow, it is important for them to see both genders in every type of role in the home. If you and our spouse are the same gender, then it is still plenty important for your children to simply see housework and responsibilities shared.

Don’t designate the more masculine of you two to take out the garbage and open jars because you are a “big strong man.” Let your children see Mom putting together that new kitchen table while Dad is folding laundry in the living room.

Gender stereotypes play such a huge role in the home that this is almost a no-brainer, and it really does take little effort to simply share the work, regardless of who society thinks is the stronger of you two.

7. Let Them Be Themselves

Even if it is questionable, or weird. If your son is adamant in his interest in getting his nails painted while you are working on yours, then give in without a beat. Like we said, there is no scientific evidence to say that doing so would hurt him. On the contrary, it would be promoting him to be himself and follow what he feels is natural to him.

If your daughter truly wants to wear those striped leggings with that polka-dotted tunic and bright orange sneakers, then guess what? She’ll be fine too. There is always the worry, of course, that their peers may find them off putting or even resort to name-calling.

But, guess what? Kids will do those sorts of things no matter what. Allowing your child to follow their imaginations and hearts is setting the foundation for them to not become those kids.

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8. Don’t Use The Logic Of “You’re Supposed To. . .”

Once again, this promotes the idea in your child’s head that because they are a certain gender, they “should” be interested in something or someone. It sets the stage for your child denying themselves of a certain happiness that comes with being yourself and being confident as a result.

Instead of telling your child what they are supposed to be doing, as told by society, give them choices so that they can decide for themselves what they should really be doing, based off of their own inner thoughts and feelings.

9. Remember That You Are Leading By Example

It is one thing to put these sorts of tips to use and to even follow through with them when it comes to your child, but the moment you succumb to these gender-biased rules and stereotypes yourself, you’re setting yourselves back a few hundred steps.

Don’t let your daughter catch you pouting to your husband that something is too heavy and you need his “manly arms.” And be sure to refrain from ever telling your wife – in front of your kids or not – that she’s good at cooking because she is the woman and that it’s simply a compliment. Such things only perpetuate the society-generated stereotypes that you as parents should be working hard to quell.

Is this the be all end all list of tips to raise your child to be perfectly perfect? Of course not. But helping them form an open mind about themselves and everyone around them is certainly a decent start.

Featured photo credit: The Birthday Backhoe/Nate via flickr.com

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

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