Eating disorders can lead to unhealthy eating habits, and in extreme, can trigger a dangerous drop in weight.
Cultivating a healthy body image in your teen can be key to preventing an eating disorder. Here are some suggestions:
- Teach your child to respect herself -- both her physical and non-physical attributes.
- Talk to your child about the importance of being herself, and why it's unrealistic to look like models pictured in magazines.
- Don't focus on food, calories and weight. Make sure your child doesn't obsess over it either.
- Try to teach her the importance of a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition, not dieting.
- Make meals a positive experience, and focus on the physical and mental benefits of a healthy diet.
- Teach your child not to deal with stress or emotions by using food.
Many children are finicky about what they'll eat. If you're attempting to coax a picky eater to try more foods, follow these suggestions:
- Give your child a variety of foods to choose from, including a fruit, vegetable, protein and starch. Don't only offer foods you know your child will eat.
- Don't give your child too many high-calorie drinks, which could fill her up and keep her from wanting to eat.
- Stick to a meal schedule, so that your child will be hungry at mealtime.
- Keep meals pleasant, in an environment free of TV, argument or stressful conversation.
- If your child won't eat, don't prepare a different meal just to satisfy her. She'll have another opportunity to eat at her next meal in a few hours.
- Continue offering your child foods that she has once refused. Her eating habits may change.