Eating disorders

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Celebrate our natural sizes

Obsession with thinness and the media culture of perfection has a dramatic effect on the lives of children and adults alike. We are bombarded by an ideal that few can achieve and it affects our self-esteem from an early age.

People come in all shapes and sizes, and we are strongly influenced by our genetics. Given that less than 1% of women fit the media ideal, it isn't surprising that most women are dissatisfied with their bodies. This can develop harmful feelings toward our bodies and ourselves and can lead to eating disorders.

Be a good role model

The most effective way to combat eating disorders in our children is by developing and modelling our own healthy attitudes and behaviours. This means taking an honest look at our own self-esteem, self-worth and body image, and making changes where we need to. Don't assess your worth based on appearance. Don't diet. Show your children that while we can always improve ourselves, we are proud to be who we are.

  • Starting at birth, trust your child to know when they are full. Don't push them to eat when they are full or you will teach them to ignore their satiety signals.
  • Start as young as possible to show your children that their worth is based upon the sum of what they are including personality, attitudes, and strengths. Give girls a sense of accomplishment outside of their looks.
  • Teach kids to be in touch with their feelings. Instead, of "feeling fat", they might be feeling sad, rejected, lonely, scared, or inadequate. Listen to what they are really saying.
  • If your child is overweight, don't restrict food. Instead provide a variety of healthy food choices and let your child choose.
  • Teach children to be healthy and proud of their bodies by making physical activity a fun and a regular part of family life.

If mothers are dieting, express dissatisfaction with their bodies, or view their worth primarily based upon how thin they are, so will their children. Studies show girls as young as eight years are drawn to dieting as a means of improving self-worth, and that 80% of 11 year-old girls are already dieting1. Another study showed that up to 35% of normal dieters would descend into an eating disorder.

A.J. Hill and V. Pallin, "Dieting Awareness and Low Self-Worth: Related Issues in 8 Year-Old Girls" - International Journal of Eating Disorders, Dec 1998.

Getting help

We provide a range of services in a safe and supportive environment to both youth and adults, and their families, who are dealing with Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. The Eating Disorders program is provided through a partnership between Fraser Health Mental Health and Substance Use Services and the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and may include individual and family therapy, group therapy, psycho-educational sessions and information and education for the public and health professionals. 

Resources

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