Eating disorders are a serious mental illness that can have a devastating effect on you, your teen, and your family. As parents, we must understand the causes of eating disorders, and know how to talk to our teen about them.
What causes an eating disorder?
There is no exact cause of eating disorders; however, there are several factors correlated to them forming such as:
- Societal pressure: Our society places a high value on body image and being then. Even teens at a normal body weight might perceive themselves as being fat, triggering an obsession with weight and dieting.
- Favorite activities: Some of your teen’s favorite activities such as modeling or athletics may value leanness, increasing the risk of an eating disorder.
- Personal factors: Eating disorders can develop due to some genetics and biological factors. Personality traits may also have a role in the development.
How do I talk to my teen?
Prevention of eating disorders begins with open communication. Talking to your teen about eating habits and body image may not be easy, but it is vital to their health.
Prevention begins with Open Communication
|Encourage healthy eating habits||Talk to your teen about how their eating habits can affect their health, appearance, and energy level. Encourage them to eat when they are hungry. Make a habit of eating together as a family.|
|Discuss Media Messages||Today our teens receive messages from a variety of media sources that only certain body types are acceptable. Encourage your teen to talk to you and question what they have seen and heard, especially from sources promoting eating disorders as a lifestyle.|
|Foster Self-Esteem||Respect your teens accomplishments and goals. Listen when they speak and look for positive qualities. Remind them that you love them unconditionally and it is not based on their weight or appearance.|
|Share the Dangers of Dieting||Share with your teen that dieting can compromise nutrition, growth, and health, well as lead to the development of any eating disorder over time. Remind them dieting is not a healthy way to cope with emotions. Encourage them to talk about problems they may be facing.|
Also, remember, you are your teen’s best example. Modeling a positive relationship with your body and the importance of self-care paired with a balanced relationship with food is a winning combination. Being able to separate emotional states with food intake or restriction or over exercise is helpful for teens to see. If you struggle or have struggled with an eating disorder yourself, it may be an important time to re-engage or strengthen your own outside supports.
You are not alone.
If you are concerned your teen may be struggling with an eating disorder, Selah House is here to help. We offer Christian eating disorder treatment for women and teen girls that focuses on the individual, and not the symptoms. Call us today at 866-324-8081 or complete our contact form; we are here to serve and help.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, The fruit of the womb a reward. Psalms 127:3