Eating Disorders & Body Image Tips for Parents

Eating Disorders & Body Image Tips for Parents

How to Help Your Teenager: Eating Disorders and Body Image Issues Teenage girls who diet are often depicted as shallow and vain, and are made fun of in many movies and TV shows. However, dieting is a warning sign that an adolescent has a negative body image or is developing an eating disorder. One in three teenage girls engage in fad diets, fasting, or take diet pills or laxatives to lose weight – and nearly half of 1st-3rd grade girls say that they wish they were thinner (Source: National Eating Disorders Association). Other signs that your teenager may have negative body image or is developing an eating disorder are: Dramatic weight loss or drastic fluctuations A preoccupation with weight, food, food labels and dieting Excessive drinking of fluids or denial of hunger Avoidance of meal times or situations involving food Withdrawal from friends and activities Self-induced vomiting or abuse of laxatives Excessive, rigid exercise regimen A change in dress, such as oversized clothing to cover the body or revealing clothes to flaunt the weight loss (Source: Elizabeth Easton, PsyD) If you think your teenager has an eating disorder, there are ways that you can help: Intervene Early. The sooner you are able to talk to your teenager, the sooner you will be able to figure out the level of care your teenager needs whether that is changing up how your family talks about food and bodies or finding a therapist who can provide some treatment strategies for your child. Ask Questions and Listen. Avoid accusing your teenager of having an eating disorder or implying that there is something wrong with the way they are eating – this will...