Tip #1: Talk About Body Image
If your teen is struggling with their body image, try to understand why. Often teens feel pressure from friends, the media, or their self-esteem issues. You can offer to help them understand the importance of being healthy, not thin.
Adolescence is a time of life when your teen is going through changes. They may not fully recognize or understand their own body. Social media often doesn’t help matters. It’s easy for teens to get caught up in the world of Instagram and Snapchat, where influencers, celebrities, and models are quick to show off their “flawless” bodies.
Opening up a conversation about body image can be a great way to talk to your teen about eating disorders. Reassure them that healthy bodies come in all different sizes. The photos on social media or in a magazine aren’t always what they seem and typically take a lot of editing. Some of the people in those pictures may be unhealthy. The more your teen recognizes the signs of a healthy body, the better.
Tip #2: Promote Healthy Eating Habits
One of the best ways to protect your teen from an eating disorder is to lead by example. Not only is it important to talk to your teen about healthy eating habits, but you have to actually show them how.
Promote healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables. Make sure to stock your home with things your teenager can eat for lasting energy. The lives of teens are busy—they’ll feel much more energized after eating a banana than a bag of chips.
Get the whole family involved in healthy eating to make the process easier. Cook together. Eat meals together. Talk to your teenager about how their diet can impact their health.
Tip #3: Encourage Self-Esteem
Some teenagers can struggle with self-esteem. Again, adolescence is a time when they’re dealing with a lot of changes. So, support their dreams and celebrate their accomplishments. Foster an environment of self-esteem at home, so they can feel proud of who they are no matter where they go.
It’s also essential that your teenager knows not to base their worth on how they look or how much they weigh. If they’re interested in losing weight because of friends or a relationship, assure them that any kind of acceptance should be unconditional. It is not based on appearances.
It isn’t always easy to talk to a teenager about eating disorders. Most teens want to look good and want to fit in, both with their social groups and with societal norms.
But, if you’ve started to notice any signs of an eating disorder or your teenager seems interested in losing weight or looking thinner, it’s important to open up a conversation with them right away. Communication is the key to protect your teen from an eating disorder and the potential health problems that could go with it.