How many times have you heard someone call another person ‘Anorexic’, with little substance or evidence to do so other than the fact that they are thin? Partly due to ignorance, the word ‘Anorexic’ has wrongly become an adjective for use on anybody who skips their breakfast, has lost weight, or is naturally skinny. Sadly a lot of girls embark on fad diets or develop food-related foibles which can understandably cause concern amongst friends and family members. But when should we really be concerned? Disordered Eating, although not an Eating Disorder, can be harmful mentally and physically. However it doesn’t pose a definite threat to life, it’s just an unhealthy lifestyle choice. Disordered Eating is a wide umbrella which can include anything from skipping breakfast (how many people do that?!) to saving your daily calories to ‘spend’ on a night out (believe it or not this is a fairly popular phenomenon). This treatment of calories as some sort of currency, and a heavy emphasis on counting them forces us to become obsessed and neglect the bigger picture.
I am asked regularly by worried relatives if the behaviour of their loved one is something serious or just a phase. There are some key things to look out for in someone with an ED; the list on B-Eat is a fairly comprehensive guide.
My advice is, whatever you do, treat Disordered Eating with caution. Especially if the person in question is young. If you find them being secretive or aggressive over food, excessively cutting their food intake or over-exercising, then please take them to the doctor. As I expand on in further posts, an ED is very much like a stroke in that it’s best to battle the fire at its lowest ember than leaving it to destroy more and more of your loved one.
I will be posting more on this subject – so please do let me know if there is any particular guidance or information you would be interested in hearing about.
Following on from one of my first posts about adults adversely affecting the mental health and self-esteem of their children, I wanted to see if anyone else had experienced anything similar at their local gym.
I was in the changing rooms last week, and there were several children in there after their swimming class. A couple were eating cereal bars as they waited for their mum. I couldn’t help overhearing however when the little girl (who was about 6 or 7 years old) sidled up to her mum and said ‘How many calories does this have? Is it 100?’ The little boy joined in, firing random numbers and playing a ‘guess the calorie’ game. And for him it was a game; he was a little younger and didn’t have a full understanding of a calorie. But I could see for the little girl that the calorie content of that cereal bar was very important to her.
This got me thinking – where the hell did someone so young learn about calories? In addition to adopting a negative body image to the point of needing to count them? This really upset me. I was concerned about the unimaginable harm this would be doing psychologically, and at the same time wondering how this had happened.
When I was a child, I had no idea about calories and diets. I only became aware of such things in my third year of secondary school, which was when I developed an Eating Disorder. Before leaving Primary School, I had never been aware of my body image. I was a child; I was more concerned with what I was doing, where I was going, who I was playing with. The fact that I was so severely affected by society’s crippling aesthetic pressure when I was double this little girl’s age makes me worry about her future. Increasingly, girls and boys of younger ages are developing Eating Disorders.
Where do we think this is coming from? Have you heard your children talking about calories? Have they learnt this from school? Or do you make a conscious effort to make them aware of nutritional content in food? Please share your thoughts.
“All little girls should be told they are pretty; even if they aren’t” – Marilyn Monroe.
Today’s theme is kindness. Kindness not only to others, but also to ourselves. There is another well-known phrase, ‘Be cruel to be kind’. But when it comes to our children, should we adopt this policy? Think about your current hang-ups and anxieties about your appearance. How many of them are borne out of childhood/teen experiences and taunts? These could have been throwaway comments made by relatives, or cruel jibes by peers deliberately designed to make you feel sad or ugly.
Recently I saw an article on ‘Baby Make-up’. The statistics included in this article claimed that up to 60% of parents worry that their child is ‘ugly’. This both concerned and astounded me. Are our own difficulties and obsessions over appearance affecting our children?
More to follow on this topic! What do you think?