Ten Ways to Child Proof Your Child from Eating Disorders

If you’re among the millions of Americans currently consumed with the low-carb craze, you could unknowingly be harming your child. Children today hear a lot of diet talk and model what they see and hear. Besides being bombarded with diet messages from television, movies and radio, kids also get influential messages at home. More and more parents are watching their weight by trying numerous fad diets. For many parents, health and appearance can be at the top of the list in a relentless pursuit of thinness – a quest that all too often results in passing along potentially harmful attitudes about food and weight to their kids.

10 ways parents can child-proof their kids by helping develop a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.

1. Avoid negative statements about your own body and your own eating.

2. Model balanced behavior for your kids – eating all foods in moderation and moving your body for fun and fitness.

3. Remember that people come in all shapes and sizes – we are so much more than our looks.

4. Do not pressure your child to be a superstar, super achiever, or perfect.

5. Be involved and actively aware of the messages your kids are getting from school, peers, coaches, TV shows and fashion magazines regarding weight and size.

6. Help your child develop interests and skills which will lead to personal expression and fulfillment without undue emphasis on appearance.

7. Make family meals relaxed and friendly. Refrain from commenting on children’s eating, resolving family conflicts at the table and using food as a punishment or reward.

8. Listen to your children. Create time for real communication.

9. Know your child – if you notice a pattern of anxiety or depression – get help immediately.

10. Do not put your child on a diet or exercise program.

Some of the common WARNING SIGNS that indicate that a child may be suffering from an eating disorder include:

- Regularly refuses family meals or skips lunch at school.

- Makes comments about being fat or an acquaintance who is “too fat.”

- Constantly compares themselves to others.

- Calls themselves disparaging names – “fat,” “gross,” “ugly,” “flabby.”

- Attempts to create a “perfect” image.

- Seeks constant reassurance from others that their looks are acceptable.

- Consistently overestimates the size of their body or body parts.

- Believes if they could attain their goal weight or size, they would accept themselves.

- Allows their drive for thinness to supersede all of life’s pleasures or goals.

- Equates thinness with beauty, success, perfection, happiness, confidence, and self-control.

- Compartmentalizes the body into parts – (thighs, stomach, buttocks, hips, etc.) rather than feeling connected to the whole body.

- Has an ever-present fear of being fat – even if they are slim.

- Has an overriding sense of shame about their self and their body.