• 22Feb

    EATING DISORDER PREVENTION
    GUIDELINES

    It is not known if eating disorders can actually be prevented. However, we do know that certain attitudes and behaviors contribute to the development and maintenance of the disorders.

    • Avoid commenting positively or negatively about other people’s sizes or shapes. Don’t make negative comments about your body, your child’s body or anyone else.
    • Encourage healthy eating habits by example and by providing nutritious foods. Teach nutrition basics at home and at school. Don’t label foods as good or bad. Stress balance, moderation, and variety.
    • Encourage healthy exercise habits. Role model appropriate level of activity and participate as a family.
    • Establish regular eating patterns.
    • Discourage dieting, meal skipping, or fasting.
    • View talk of “going on a diet” as a possible red flag, Find out what is going on in the life of the person. There could be an underlying issue. The most common are feelings of rejection by peers, a change or loss of some kind, or fear of the pressures associated with growing up. Remember that rigid dieting is the most common precipitant to anorexia and bulimia.
    • As a parent or teacher, take a look at your own “fear of fat”. Our culture has been brainwashed by the media’s image of too-thin-to-be-healthy models and actresses. Most are 25% lower in weight than the average person.
    • Try to avoid perfectionist expectations or an over-emphasis on achieving. This is one of the more common family styles contributing to the problem.
    • Provide a loving stable home environment free of addictions, neglect, or abuse. The chaotic under involved family system is the other common trigger.
    • Provide ways for your children or students to take age appropriate responsibility for their actions. Teach problem solving and consequence to choices. Provide avenues for the development of feelings of effectiveness. Underlying all eating disorders is a pervasive sense of ineffectiveness and powerlessness.
    • Help young people find way to connect -to themselves with an increase of awareness of their feelings and appropriate ways to communicate them, – to the community outside of themselves through organized sports, clubs, church, or volunteer agencies. Most eating disorders develop and flourish in an isolated, secretive downward spiral.
    • Avoid measuring body fat or weigh-ins of any kind. Instead, replace these measures with emphases on health and non-stereotypical measures of attractiveness.

    Written by Cynthia Hutchins, M.C., L.P.C., Eating Disorder Specialist
    479-644-2518