myFM: Helping Your Child Navigate Body Image

by Lianne Phillipson July 18, 2023

myFM: Helping Your Child Navigate Body Image

Listener question about her 10-year-old daughter saying that she’s fat and how to handle that to avoid the potential of that growing into an eating disorder. 

First of all, the narrative around what this 10-year-old thinks is fat needs a better understanding. In my day, it was magazine images of models that drove the perfect figure. Today it’s rampant on social media, so at their fingertips every moment of every day. 

Asking your daughter questions could help to avoid confusion about what is a perfect figure and also what she thinks she will feel once she gets there. Look for warning signs of eating disorder behaviour like becoming vegetarian and, restricting the quantity or frequency of food or meals, wearing baggy clothes and hoodies all the time to hide weight loss.

Discuss and find sources of those who speak about healthy lifestyles and how it correlates to mental health. Encourage activity to boost mental health, as anorexia and bulimia both fall under mental health disorders. In my experience as a mother of a teen who has been in and out of anorexia since 2021, eating disorders are a part of the whole mental health picture stemming from very low self-esteem. A psychotherapist that we saw suggested that OCD can accompany EDs. 

As a parent, as soon as you suspect anything, take your child to the doctor and have their heart rate assessed. Heart rate drops and can become too low with food restriction. I bought my daughter an Oura ring to keep track of her overnight heart rate after she was released from the hospital. 

Eating disorders are scary, hard for them and everyone around them, and for any parent or friend, it’s heartbreaking. As their weight drops, so does their cognition and ability to be reasoned with. The eating disorder voice, telling them to not eat and deny their hunger gets stronger to the point of not seeing their true selves in the mirror anymore. 

Listen to segment below!

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