Nutrition and Eating Disorders

As children progress into their teen years, they become concerned about their appearance. A child’s body and hormones change during puberty. Many children at this point begin to feel self-conscious about their shape and size and their outlook on life can change for the worse. New social pressures are also introduced into a child’s life with the onset of puberty.A child’s preoccupation about how heavy they are often leads to obsession to lose weight, causing unhealthy fluctuations and physical and emotional damage. Eating disorders typically begin in the late pre-teen years. Millions of teens develop eating disorders, and though they are more common with girls, boys do develop them. Eating disorders usually develop with a peculiar attitude toward food and in secrecy and are hidden from family and friends for years while the teen suffers silently.

There are preventative steps a parent can take in a child’s early years to help prevent an eating disorder from developing. A child’s self-esteem needs to be nurtured from an early age. Parents also need to promote nutrition and a child’s positive attitude toward their appearance. Parents should not assume that all is well with their teenagers eating habits if they are not told anything is wrong. Be aware of warning signs and talk with your teenager if you think there is a problem. Medical help is required if your child has an eating disorder.

There are different types of eating disorders. Eating disorders begin when the negative thoughts and feelings a child has about food and their body image disrupt normal daily activities and functions. Anorexia nervosa drives children to starve themselves to be thin and lose unhealthy amounts of weight. Children suffering from Bulimia find the urge to binge and vomit causing harmful weight fluctuations. The two eating disorders both include compulsive exercise. Compulsive exercise is one of the cues for parents to be aware of with eating disorders.

Children coping with eating disorders need to develop new attitudes and thought patterns about food, nutrition and body image. Treatment for eating disorders typically involves a combination approach of counseling, close monitoring and therapy sessions. Severe cases require hospitalization. Nutritional management is important in treating anorexia nervosa, though not enough information is available for effective treatment. Aggressive attempts at weight gain early in the treatment process can be potentially dangerous. The body’s nutritional deficiencies must be addressed before adding weight is attempted.

Nutritional therapy is an important part of the recovery process. A qualified nutritionist should be highly involved in developing and monitoring a successful plan. Nutritional therapy may also involve conversations around eating behaviors and weight as they relate to the patient’s feelings and emotions.

Elizabeth Radisson is the editor of Nutrition.OurGoodHealth.org where you’ll find articles and information healthy eating and related subjects. Visit OurGoodHealth.org for information on other healthy topics.
Denver Movers

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