This week we are talking about understanding healthy eating and eating disorders with Ashley Ariail LPC, CEDS.
Eating disorders are on the rise in the US as COVID has given kids more opportunities to spend time online. We know that social media impacts how we (especially girls) feel about our bodies, increasing anxiety and fueling eating disorders. In the first part of my conversation with clinical therapist Ashley Ariail, we’re discussing the different factors that can contribute to eating disorders, how you can identify if your kid is struggling with unhealthy eating behaviors, and advice about how to model appropriate behavior for your child.
Key points from our conversation:
🍴 Negative body image isn’t always involved in an eating disorder, especially in kids under 10. It could be avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID) which is not driven by body or weight concerns. It could be they’ve had a bad experience with choking or allergies, GI complications, etc.
⬇️ There is no standard of average healthy weight loss per week. If you notice your child is losing weight rapidly, it’s important to focus on the how and why they’re losing rather than the number of pounds lost.
⭐ There are many factors that can contribute to eating disorders including genetics, personality and temperament, and social influences. Children that struggle with eating disorders are typically perfectionistic high achievers.
🏃♀️ Parents can help by being good students of their kids and making sure they’re getting their nutritional needs met despite their difficulties. It’s also important for parents to model healthy behaviors concerning food, exercise, and how they speak about their own bodies.
🍎 Research shows that because they’re based on rules, diets don’t work long term. Working with a dietitian can help you with your weight loss goal while modeling appropriate behavior. (It may even be covered by your insurance as preventative care.)
You can find more resources about mental health, parenting, and coping with anxiety at MichelleNietert.com.
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