Eating Disorder-proof your child

dance is great, unless it leads to an eating disorder

As a follow up to my podcast on Eating Disorders, here are some suggestions on how parents can minimize the chances of a child developing an eating disorder.  While it’s not possible to guarantee that any interventions will absolutely prevent an eating disorder, these recommendations can support that goal:

1. Don’t model dieting behavior.

  • Never say “I’m too fat, I need to lose weight.”
  • Don’t weigh yourself in front of your child.
  • Don’t talk about calories
  • Don’t say “I’m on a diet”, or “I can’t eat that” or “It’s too fattening for me” or anything similar.

2. Never, ever tell a child he or she is “too fat”.
3. Do not talk about other peoples’ weight or body size in a disparaging way in front of your child
4. Encourage healthy eating and daily physical activity instead of “dieting”.
5. Minimize exposure to fashion magazines and TV shows or internet sites that glorify unrealistic body types.

If you suspect your child is involved with a group that encourages or facilitates obsessive dieting, or that your child is being teased about weight, take appropriate action.  This could be a group of friends, cliques at school, a sports team or a dance/gymnastics class.  Believe it or not, even today some coaches and teachers (ex: dance) still harp on weight and body size.

Rest assured, most kids do not develop eating disorders, despite exposure to many of these potential triggers.  But disordered eating, from obesity to bingeing to anorexia, can run in families.  So if your family has this tendency, you should do what you can to minimize risks.

Copyright: All content © 2010-2018 Nutrition Strategy Advisors LLC. Photographs © Donna P Feldman, unless otherwise attributed. Reproduction or use without permission is prohibited.