Help Prevent Eating Disorders
Examine closely your dreams and goals for your children and other loved ones. Are you over-emphasizing beauty and body shape? You may be more than you think.
There are many ways in which you can help your friend or loved one if they have an eating disorder. The most important thing you can do is offered your unconditional LOVE and SUPPORT. Don't play the blame game, and don't pretent you understand, you don't. Every eating disorder is different, everyone deals with it differently, none are exactly the same.
Another important point to remember is that recovery takes time. It is also possible that, just because your friend or loved one has confided in your about their eating disorder, they are not ready to start the recovery process and may simply want somebody to talk to.
1. Consider your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors toward your own body and the way that these beliefs have been shaped by the forces of weightism. Then educate your children (or friends) about...
o The genetic basis for the natural diversity of human body shapes and sizes.
o The nature and ugliness of prejudice.
Make an effort to maintain positive, healthy attitudes & behaviors. Children learn from the things you say and do!
2. Examine closely your dreams and goals for your children and other loved ones. Are you overemphasizing beauty and body shape?
o Avoid conveying an attitude which says in effect, "I will like you more if you lose weight, don't eat so much, look more like the slender models in ads, fit into smaller clothes, etc."
o Decide what you can do and what you can stop doing to reduce the teasing, criticism, blaming, staring, etc. that reinforce the idea that larger or fatter is "bad" and smaller or thinner is "good".
3. Learn about and discuss with your sons and daughters (a) the dangers of trying to alter one's body shape through dieting, (b) the value of moderate exercise for health, and (c) the importance of eating a variety of foods in well-balanced meals consumed at least three times a day.
o Avoid categorizing foods into "good/safe/no-fat or low-fat" or "bad/dangerous/fattening."
o Be a good role model in regard to sensible eating, exercise, and self-acceptance.
4. Make a commitment not to avoid activities (such as swimming, sunbathing, dancing, etc.) simply because they call attention to your weight and shape. Refuse to wear clothes that are uncomfortable or that you don't like but wear simply because they divert attention from your weight or shape.
5. Make a commitment to exercise for the joy of feeling your body move and grow stronger, not to purge fat from your body or to compensate for calories eaten.
6. Practice taking people seriously for what they say, feel, and do, not for how slender or "well put together" they appear.
7. Help children appreciate and resist the ways in which television, magazines, and other media distort the true diversity of human body types and imply that a slender body means power, excitement, popularity, or perfection.
8. Educate boys and girls about various forms of prejudice, including weightism, and help them understand their responsibilities for preventing them.
9. Encourage them, encouragement is the only thing that will keep them from falling into an ED, and the only thing that will help them out once they are caught in an ED.
Do whatever you can to promote the self-esteem and self-respect of all of your children in intellectual, athletic, and social endeavors. Give boys and girls the same opportunities and encouragement. Be careful not to suggest that females are less important than males, e.g., by exempting males from housework or childcare. A well-rounded sense of self and solid self-esteem are perhaps the best antidotes to dieting and disordered eating.