by Helene Mansione
One of the sad realities of our time is the fact that more children are overeating, some developing a serious eating disorder. Big screen televisions, video games and mega-size fast food portions ensure that not only are our children more lethargic because of our lifestyles, but they’re also consuming larger portions of food that doesn’t provide a lot of vitamins and other nutrients.
The main thing to remember when helping your children develop healthy eating habits is, don’t make them feel guilty! When children feel guilty about what or how much they eat, habits may develop that could turn into a very serious eating disorder such as Bulimia, Anorexia or binge eating. Also, remember that kids naturally seem to eat a lot of food — especially when they’re in growing spurts. The trick is to gently lead them into eating healthy foods rather than the fast foods that most kids prefer.
Children may lean on food for comfort the same as adults. The root causes may be boredom from not having enough to do or someone to talk to — all the way to a serious problem with depression. As with adults, the cause of the depression connected to overeating must be analyzed before the problem can be dealt with effectively.
School is usually a volatile time in a child’s life. They must deal with making friends, getting good grades, having the “right” clothes, being part of the “in” crowd and last, but not least — the hormones that are raging within their bodies and playing havoc with their minds. Parents can sometimes be overwhelmed with worry and concern about their child’s welfare, especially during the preteen and teenage years.
Most children eventually get through all these trials and tribulations just fine, but sometimes an especially traumatic childhood, combined with difficult school days can push a child into depression that may lead to a serious eating disorder.
Signs that your child may have an overeating disorder include consuming too much food — much too quickly, eating huge amounts of food late at night, becoming a loner – spending most of his time in his room (eating) and refusing to be with family or friends. Such patterns can alert you to a child on his way to an eating disorder and should be dealt with immediately.
Become a role model for your child. Developing healthy eating habits for yourself can set a great example for your children to follow. Pair healthy eating with exercise done both alone and with the family can add to your child’s self-esteem and he can more easily gain control over the bad eating habits he’s developed.
If you suspect that your child may have an eating disorder, be sure and do your research – then, have a sit-down discussion with his pediatrician to determine the best course of action.