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What can Parents do to Prevent Eating Disorders in Their Children?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2018
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    Conjecture Corporation
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There are a number of things you can do to help prevent eating disorders in your children and in the people around you. By being aware of the issue of eating disorders, you are already taking the first step in prevention. It is especially important for parents to work to prevent eating disorders, and parents should remember that eating disorders are not restricted to girls; boys can get eating disorders as well. In fact, it sometimes takes longer to get treatment for eating disorders in men and boys since society is not as accustomed to them.

Advocates in the eating disorder treatment and prevention community say that one of the most important things you can do to prevent eating disorders is to project a healthy body image, and to remain self-confident. You should also avoid making judgments about other people on the basis of their body types, and avoid comparing yourself or others to people with specific body types. By doing so, you can model body-positive behavior.

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Excessive diet and exercise talk is also not recommended, as is constant casual dieting and the establishment of “good” and “bad” foods. Instead, parents are encouraged to educate their children about healthy and nutritious foods to eat, focusing on positive, beneficial exercise, rather than exercise for the purpose of losing weight. It can also help to discuss the serious risks of eating disorders with people; many people are not aware of how dangerous eating disorders are, and a little bit of education can go a long way if you want to prevent eating disorders.

Many of us live in a society where weight is a very big issue, and thinness is equated with happiness. If you can, try to keep these social judgments out of your household, focusing on people's individual accomplishments and positive traits. When a child says that “actress so-and-so certainly is beautiful,” for example, you can add “she's also involved in a lot of charitable causes,” emphasizing a trait which is not related to her weight or appearance. You can help to prevent eating disorders by encouraging people to make lists of their positive traits, and by providing frequent praise and affirmation to remind people that they are loved for who they are, not what they look like.

Recognizing the signs of eating disorders is important, even when you try to prevent them. Girls and boys alike feel strong pressure to look and behave in a certain way, and even with ample evidence to the contrary, they may feel driven to lose weight to “fit in.” Studies have shown that having regular family meals and communicating frequently can help to prevent eating disorders and identify the early signs, along with the signs of other problems which may be arising in a child's life.

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Post 1

The authors of the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Illness) admit that no one knows the cause of the disorders listed there. Experts who offer suggestions are giving out psycho-social psychobabble. Subliminal Distraction functioning as Accidental Subliminal Operant Conditioning has been proposed as a possible cause. The eating disorders seem to function as an altered mental state and belief system. Think of post hypnotic suggestion.

Daily activities including classroom seating arrangements copy the "special circumstances" that allowed the discovery of Subliminal Distraction in the 1960's. The office cubicle was a solution for that problem.

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