GREENSBORO, N.C. — Today is the last Monday of February and today starts the National Eating Disorders Awareness week.
The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, 30 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder. Talking about disorders is an important part of treatment and prevention.
Conversations surrounding food and healthy food habits can start at home.
At some point, your kids will notice that their friends will be smaller or bigger than them.
During these times, normalize body shape and size differences. You can say something like, “Some people have long hair, short hair, curly hair, straight hair like some people have different body sizes.” You want to project an acceptance of all body types.
When your kids hear about dieting, you can say something like, “We eat all kinds of foods to make sure we get the nutrients and vitamins that our bodies need to grow and work well. That’s the reason we eat a variety of foods. Certain foods are better for our health than others.”
Also, let them know that foods (sweets, chips, cookies) are okay in moderation unless there’s a medical condition that prohibits certain foods.
Some kids might not eat a lot and parents can be a little concerned. It's a topic to discuss with your child's pediatrician but also something to discuss at home.
Encourage your kids to eat. But, consistently nagging them and saying things like, “You’re lucky that you have food to eat” can have the opposite effect. Your intent is to encourage, but it can turn into a power struggle. And it’s a struggle that you as a parent won’t win. You can’t force your kids to eat. It’s better to encourage once and if they chose not to eat then you put their food away in the fridge for later. They can sit with the family for the meal.
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