Tips for Parents
- Learn about eating disorders so you will recognize the signs when you see them.
- Understand the consequences of eating disorders on physical and psychological health. (Eating disorders are potentially fatal diseases and must be treated accordingly.)
- Listen to the individual with understanding, respect and sensitivity.
- Tell the person that you are concerned, you care, and you would like to help. Suggest that the person seek professional help from a physician and/or therapist.
- Be available when your friend or family member needs someone to talk to.
- Discuss things other than food, weight, counting calories and exercise. Attempt to talk about feelings instead.
- Share your own vulnerabilities and struggles in coping with life.
- Don't take any action alone. Get help.
- Don't try to solve the problem for her. She needs a qualified professional.
- Don't blame her for doing something wrong or tell her she is acting silly.
- Don't gossip about her.
- Don't focus on weight, the number of calories being consumed or particular eating habits.
- Don't make comments about her appearance. Concern about weight loss may be interpreted as a compliment and comments about weight gain may be seen as criticism.
- Don't be afraid to upset her; talk with her.
- Don't reject or ignore her; she needs you.
- Don't get involved in a power struggle around eating or other behaviors.
- Don't be deceived by her excuses.
- Examine your own beliefs and feelings about body image and weight and consider how your attitudes, comments or nonverbal responses are being communicated to your children.
- Encourage healthy eating and exercise.
- Allow your child to determine when she is full.
- Talk about different body types and how they can all be accepted and appreciated.
- Discuss the dangers of dieting.
- Show your children you love them for who they are, not because of how they look.
- Don't label foods as "good" or "bad."
- Don't use food as a reward or punishment.
- Don't diet or encourage your child to diet.
- Don't comment on weight or body types: yours, your child's or anyone else's.
- Don't let anyone ridicule, blame or tease your child.
The culture of disordered eating is pervasive in our society. Following are ways we might affect eating behavior without even knowing it:
- Praising or glorifying a person based on body size or appearance.
- Complimenting someone when she loses weight or diets.
- Encouraging someone to lose weight.
- Talking negatively about our bodies.
- Discussing measurements, weights or clothing sizes.
- Thinking of foods as "good" or "bad."
- Making fun of another person's eating habits or food choices.
- Criticizing your own eating.
- Considering a person's weight important.
- Saying someone is "healthy" or "well" because she is thin.
- Expecting perfection.
- Pushing an individual to exercise more than is necessary or healthy.
- Assuming that a fat person wants or needs to lose weight.
- Agreeing with the media's view about what body types are acceptable or attractive.
- No food is "good" or "bad." Everything from pizza to carrots to peanut butter and candy can be part of a healthy menu.
- Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are full. Try to do this most of the time.
- Don't eat because you are bored, sad or angry. Find something interesting to do or someone to talk with instead.
- Stay fit by exercising. You can take up a sport or join a class like dance or karate, but you don't have to. Playing with friends can be just as energizing and fun!
- All bodies are different. People of all shapes and sizes can eat well and be healthy.
- Teasing hurts. Don't take part in it, especially if it is about a person's body, weight or size.
- Remember that fat does not equal bad and thin does not equal good.
- If you're unhappy with your body or weight, talk to an adult. Parents, school nurses and teachers can often give you valuable information and support.