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Scared to Eat

There are many ways parents can help their kids develop and maintain a healthy relationship with food and a positive opinion of their bodies. Here are some tips to help foster those healthy attitudes:

  1. Are you constantly dieting and/or preoccupied with your weight and thinness? If so, you may be promoting negative attitudes about food and weight to your children. Work on your own weight and appearance issues.

  2. Don't criticize your children's bodies. Even a well-meaning "you're a big boy but you could lose a few pounds," can devastate a young child's self-esteem.

  3. Don't talk in front of your children about your dieting, your displeasure with your body, or the fat content of foods.

  4. Stock a variety of healthy, appealing foods and snacks in your house. Don' be afraid to include some sweets.

  5. Avoid eating lots of "diet foods."

  6. Don't brush off your children's comments about their being fat.

  7. Empathize with their worries while putting their concerns in perspective.

  8. Don't put your kids on restricted diets unless it's a medical necessity.

  9. Make exercise a fun family pastime. Explain to them that regular, moderate exercise will help make them fit and strong, not thin.

  10. Limit TV time to a few favorite shows per week.

  11. Compliment your kids often on attributes other than appearance, like their honesty, humor, and imagination.

Books:

Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia by Marya Hornbacher

The Secret Language of Eating Disorders: The Revolutionary New Approach to Curing Anorexia and Bulimia by Peggy Claude-Pierre

The Best Little Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron (fiction for young adults)

Surviving an Eating Disorder: New Perspectives and Strategies for Family and Friends by Michele Siegel, Judith Brisman, Margor Weinshel

The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls by Joan Jacobs Brumberg (not specifically about eating disorders, but a currently popular book about the relationship girls have with their bodies)



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