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Thursday, 14 September 2000

Therapist's Comments on Eating Disorders

Written by  Naomi Baum, PhD.

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Teenage girls growing up today are bombarded about weight, diets, body image, and how they look from a very young age. The messages are constant, contradictory and confusing. On the one hand we are constantly being told : " you can't be too thin," " don't eat too much," " watch the fat," "exercise." On the other hand our mothers, teachers, and doctors are concerned that we might be too thin. So what's the scoop? How to find the balance?

I think that is the million dollar question of the twenty first century. It is very hard not to be influenced by all the fashion models and movie stars we see that are seriously underweight. It is also hard to be immune to all the ads for fast food that is high in fat and calories, but looks so yummy.

What we need to start doing is turning inward, focusing on what we want, what we think, who we are. One way to start becoming centered, and inner directed is by turning of the TV. That is no joke, but perhaps not too realistic. Another way is to check with ourselves why we are doing what we are doing. I am talking about self-monitoring on an every day sort of basis. The next time you say to yourself-"I hate my thighs," or "I am too fat"-check again to make sure it is you talking, and not perhaps the supermodel, the movie star, or your friends. What do you really think? How do you really feel?

While it is good to keep on eye on healthful eating, eating nutritious meals and snacks, there is nothing wrong with occasionally eating out, or having a high fat-high calorie treat. It is good to exercise, but this too can be done excessively to the exclusion of anything else. Maintaining a balance is the key. Some nutrition, some exercise, and a lot of good humor.

Recent studies show that most teenage girls are unhappy about the way they look, and are currently dieting. Anorexia is a life threatening illness that is preying on more and more adolescent girls. It is important for parents, but particularly mothers to be aware of this. We need to remember that they way we relate to food affects our children, particularly our teenage daughters. If in fact you have concerns about your daughters weight loss, or food behaviors, do not wait until your daughter agrees, and asks for help.

It is your responsibility as a parent to turn for help, even if your daughter fights you on this. Talk your physician, or a health care provider with expertise in eating disorders, or adolescence. DO NOT WAIT!!!

Remember-eating disorders are rampant and can be life threatening. However, there are solutions and help. Do not try to solve it all yourself.

Last modified on Sunday, 03 July 2011 10:12
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Naomi Baum, PhD.

Naomi Baum, PhD.

Naomi Baum is the Director of the Resilience Unit at The Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma and the National School Resilience Project. Her work at ICTP focuses on developing programs to build resilience in communities that have been highly exposed to trauma and stress. She has successfully brought her approach to Biloxi, Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Her work there included seven visits to the city, she trained teachers, social workers, school nurses, and counselors. She has also worked with the population in Haiti following teh earthquake. She has written about Trauma and Resilience in several published articles and books.

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