Thursday, April 30, 2009

10 Things Parents Can Do to Help Prevent Eating Disorders

I found this list I would like to post in hopes of empowering parents in the effort to provide an emotionally healthy home environment for their children. (List found on The Fitness JumpSite)

The list breaks down things we can do as parents and does mention leading by example. I would like to add the fact that girls with mother's who diet are 12% more likely to have an eating disorder.

3 powerful factors that are connected with teens with eating disorders are: if their mom diets, if their sister diets, and/or if their friends diet.

10 Things Parents Can Do to Help Prevent Eating Disorders
by Michael Levine, Ph.D.

1. Examine the ways in which your beliefs and attitudes and behaviors about your own body and the bodies of others have been shaped by the forces of weightism and sexism. Then educate your children about (a) the genetic basic differences in body types; and (b) the nature and ugliness of prejudice.
2. Examine closely your dreams and goals for your children and other loved ones. Are you overemphasizing beauty and body shape, particularly for girls? Avoid conveying an attitude which says in effect "I will like you more if you lose weight, don't eat so much, look more like the slender models in the ads, fit into more slimmer clothes, etc. Decide what you can do and stop doing to reduce teasing, criticism, blaming, staring, etc. that reinforce the vilification of overweight and the glorification of slenderness.
3. Learn about and discuss with your sons and daughters, (a) the dangers of trying to alter one's body shape through dieting; (b) the value of moderate exercising toward stamina and cardiovascular fitness; and (c) the importance of eating a variety of foods in well-balanced meals consumed at least three times a day. Avoid dichotomizing foods into "good/safe/no-fat or low-fat vs. bad/dangerous/fattening". Be a good role model in regard to sensible eating, sensible exercise, and self-acceptance.
4. Make a commitment to exercise for the joy of feeling your body move and function effectively, not to purge fat from your body or compensate for calories eaten.
5. Make a commitment not to avoid activities (such as swimming, sunbathing, dancing) simply because they call attention to your weight and shape. Similarly, refuse to wear clothes that are uncomfortable or that you dislike, simply because they divert attention from weight or shape.
6. Practice taking people in general and women in particular, seriously for what they say, feel, and do, not for how slender or "well put together" they appear.
7. Make a commitment to help children (both male and female) appreciate and resist the ways in which television, magazines, and other media distort the true diversity of human body types and imply that a slender body means power, excitement, and sexuality.
8. Make a commitment to educating boys about the various forms of violence against women, including weightism, and their responsibilities for preventing it.
9. Encourage your children to be active and to enjoy what their bodies can do and feel like. Do not limit their caloric intake unless a physician requests that you do this because of a medical problem.
10. Do whatever you can to promote the self-esteem and self-respect of your daughters and nieces, and sisters in intellectual, athletic, and social endeavors. Give boys and girls the same opportunities and encouragement. Be careful not to suggest that females are less important than males, e.g., by exempting males from housework and childcare. A well-rounded self and solid self-esteem are perhaps the best antidotes to mindless dieting and disordered eating.

A huge one I would like to add was touched somewhat with number one but here's my take on it: NEVER put yourself down in front of your children! In their eyes you are perfect, and the symbol of everything wonderful and grand. If they see you put your self down or calling yourself fat not only will they emulate this behavior, but they will think "If she (being magnificent in the child's eyes) isn't good enough and hates her body, then I (someone who is LESS marvelous) should even more so dislike my body.
We will all make mistakes as parents, but I feel if you can keep these things in you mind you are more likely to raise a self confident, mentally sound child.


Mama Nut said...

I love this! Thanks for posting it, Halley!

My mom, I love her to death, but she is OBSESSED with losing weight. My sister and I grew up feeling fat all the time because of "well-meaning" comments. Things haven't changed either. Last month, my mom told me that before I thought about having another child, I needed to lose at least 25-30 pounds -- this after me telling her that I seriously, medically, physically can't lose weight, no matter what I do.

My sister is a basket case when it comes to her weight. I made a decision that I wouldn't let it ruin and dictate my life and happiness. My husband loves me, my kids love me, and my friends think I am hilarious! That's what's important to me. As long as I teach my sons good eating, exercising, and self worth -- I believe they will turn out to be great men.

Our Family said...
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Life Works said...

Thanks for your post. I would like to suggest a website with lots more information about eating disorders.

Also have a look at the Life Works Community Blog for some great inspiration from the Life Works Counsellors.