Creating an Eating Disorder Preventative Environment

Eating disorders are mental health issues that can cause both psychological and physiological complications. Many die from eating disorders each year. Unfortunately, eating disorders are so misunderstood still that coroners do not assess death due to heart failure or organ shut down as being due to eating disorders.

Many claim that social media is to blame for promoting digitally altered images and giving people the ability to consume mass amounts of media. Beauty, fashion, fitness, and athletic industries also get heat for focusing on standards that are not achievable by all body types. While society is in the midst of eating disorder crisis with the growth of binge eating disorder, there is also a great movement for body positivity and body acceptance. In the brain, eating disorders thrive in an area responsible for habit forming. Habits, as many are aware, are incredibly difficult to break. Beyond the obsessive craving of an addiction, eating disorders become an ingrained lifestyle and matter of meaning or identity in life. Much of that lifestyle and identity can be altered in the home environment.

Most are not aware of how everyday conversations about food, body, and weight, impact self-esteem and self-image. Here are some tips for creating an environment that is preventative of contributing to the development of eating disorders:

Choose an eating lifestyle rather than a diet
Dieting inherently comes with a negative connotation. It involves regiment, restriction, and control. Coincidentally, people with eating disorders will “excel” in dieting because they are used to keeping their diets within strict lines. However, diets are gateways to eating disorders due to their psychology and often unhealthy results. Though there may be weight loss, diets are not usually sustainable. Instead, opt for a food and eating lifestyle change. Make healthy choices and focus on meal time as a celebration rather than a task.

Avoid commentary about weight or body; use body positivity
Critical commentary about weight, size, and body image are harmful. Research has shown that negative talk about body image and weight in childhood has a negative impact on a child’s development of self-esteem. Seeing themselves as fat, unhealthy, too skinny, or anything else through parents or loved ones eyes can lead to extreme eating patterns. Rather than criticize, try to compliment. Find things that you love about your body and express those openly. Use body positive statements to encourage acceptance rather than rejection of the natural body.

Encourage regular exercise and physical activity
Diet and exercise go hand in hand, both for positive benefit and negative impact. Exercise is a chore and task that sounds unpleasant to many people. Rather than trying a workout plan or having a physical goal set for exercise, make physical activity part of a daily routine. The average person needs between 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day. Instead of hitting the gym or doing something not everyone enjoys, explore different physical activities to find what everyone likes.

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