Taking Care of Your Teens: How to Help Them Avoid an Eating Disorder

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When your child turns into a teenager, you probably are unable to recognize who they are. They are suddenly rude, withdrawn, and overemotional. One of the ways teenagers cope with life is through their eating habits. Eating disorders can take a huge toll on your teenage child if left unattended. The best way of helping your child with their problematic eating is through understanding the cause, and knowing how to discourage them from their eating habits.

The Causes of Eating Disorders in Teenagers

Self Image: For teenagers with eating problems, there is a big difference between how one perceives oneself and how one actually looks. Many cases at the Reasons Eating Disorder Center reveal that teenagers suffering from bulimia or anorexia, are afraid of being overweight, or gaining weight and tend to exaggerate their actual size.

Activities: There are certain activities that emphasize a particular weight class, and this puts teenagers at a high risk of suffering from problematic eating. Activities such as gymnastics, cheerleading, ballet, and wrestling require a particular body size that many teenagers strive to achieve.

Media: Research has shown that media is one of the main contributors to the high incidences of poor eating habits. TV and movie celebrities are usually thin or full of muscle, a perception that causes girls to seek to attain extreme thinness by adjusting their eating habits, or boys to engage in extreme exercises to attain muscle mass.

Tips on Discouraging Poor Eating Habits

Lead by Example

Practice healthy eating, and keep a healthy weight. Teenagers should be led by example and are likely to emulate your eating habits.

Have Family Meals

Research shows that children who eat meals with their families tend to have more restraint over their emotions. Family dinners are also a good way for parents to notice their children's worries, and track their eating habits.

Teach Them How to View Media Critically

Foster in your child the behavior of viewing the media critically. Teach them how to question the comments, or messages regarding body image and self-esteem.

Promote Self-Esteem

Teach your child to talk about themselves with appreciation and respect, and to embrace human diversity. Train them to value themselves based on their accomplishments, character, goals, and talent. Instruct them not to let their feelings about their body shape or weight stand in the way of their fulfillment.

Eating disorders in teenagers are as common as in adults. However, like in adults, it can be very disastrous if left unattended. The following tips will help you prevent problematic eating in teens before it develops into an uncontrollable disorder.

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