During puberty, teenagers experience dramatic changes in their bodies. These changes affect the way they look at themselves and often become a cause of concern about their appearance. This concern, added to the overreaching societal standards of beauty, may lead to an eating disorder, the most common being anorexia nervosa and binge-eating disorder.
While there is no one cause of these conditions, they are treatable and often preventable. Having an eating disorder not only affects one’s thoughts and feelings but also negatively impacts one’s physical health. As such, therapies and treatments for disorders like binge-eating, anorexia, bulimia, and the like are targeted at improving a patient’s physical and mental health. Programs are also aimed at shifting a patient’s eating habits and overall outlook about nutrition for the better.
Keep eating problems from affecting your loved ones with these prevention strategies.
Adolescent teenagers are at a high risk of developing eating disorders, mainly because of societal pressures. Instilling an awareness about the different eating disorders and their consequences, and, moreover, about an alternate healthy lifestyle, may help young men and women stand up against societal pressure. Schools are ideal locations for inspirational talks and conferences that medical groups can hold in order to educate students on the subject. Have as many teenagers at the gathering, and openly discuss taboo topics or issues surrounding eating disorders. Explain, without judgment, how such conditions affect a teen’s physical and mental well-being.
Develop Healthy Eating Habits
Studies show that kids whose parents are more focused on healthy eating habits rather than weight are less likely to have an eating disorder. Of course, this also applies to teenagers. Weight shaming is one of the top reasons teenagers skip meals or engage in unhealthy diets. Encourage your teen to eat healthily and sensibly by setting an example for them. Form the habit of eating meals as a family, whenever possible. Talk to your kids and teens how their eating habits can affect their health, energy, and fitness.
Goal-setting can also help your teen develop good fitness habits. Set realistic, achievable weight goals periodically. Remember, the key is to emphasize health over weight. Healthy eating habits plus regular exercise can improve their outlook, as a whole, and prevent eating disorders from striking.
Talking and opening up is a vital factor in the process of preventing or overcoming eating disorders. Teenagers and adolescents often have a lot of pent-up feelings that can lead to an eating problem, or worsen their condition. Assure your teen that they have someone who won’t judge them – this pumps their confidence and strengthens their trust in people around them.
Building great self-esteem starts at home. Reassurance and frequent, non-judgmental talks help boost a teen’s self-image and offer them the comfort they need, especially on days when they’re most concerned about their physical appearance. Make sure your home is a haven for everybody by spreading positivity and by encouraging healthy relationships.
Additionally, be aware of the support systems that are available to you and your teen or pre-teen. Nowadays, there are centers and communities that help people struggling with an eating disorder.
There’s no known cure for eating disorders just yet. But with strong role models, a solid support system, open communication, and positive lifestyle adjustments, eating disorders can be treated – better yet, prevented.