What Parents Can Do to Prevent Eating Disorders

Consider your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors toward your own body and the way that these beliefs have been shaped by the forces of weightism and sexism.

Educate your children about:

  • The genetic basis for the natural diversity of human body shapes and sizes
  • The nature and ugliness of prejudice
  • Examine closely your dreams and goals for your children and other loved ones. Are you over-emphasizing beauty and body shape, particularly for girls?
  • 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.
  • Decide what you can do and what you can stop doing to reduce teasing, criticism, blaming, staring, etc. that reinforce the idea that larger or fatter is “bad” and smaller or thinner is “good”.

Learn about and discuss with your children:

  • The dangers of trying to alter one’s body shape through dieting
  • The value of moderate exercise for health
  • The importance of eating a variety of foods in well-balanced meals consumed at least three times a day.

Avoid categorizing foods into “good/safe/no fat” vs “bad/ dangerous/fattening”

Be a good role model in regards to sensible eating , exercise, and self-acceptance.

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 and shape.

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.

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.