A recent article published in the New York Times talks about the exploding increase of teens diagnosed with an eating disorder during the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the article, “[t]he National Eating Disorders Association helpline has had a 40 percent jump in overall call volume since March 2020. Among the callers who shared their age over the last year, 35 percent were 13 to 17 years old, up from 30 percent in the year before the pandemic.”
Read on to discover four ways you can combat eating disorders.
1. Know the Signs
How can you combat the development of eating disorders in your daughter if you don’t know what an eating disorder looks like? According to the National Eating Disorders Association, here are some of the symptoms you should be on the lookout for:
- Preoccupation with weight, food, calories, or dieting
- Refusal to eat certain foods or whole categories of foods
- Appears uncomfortable eating around others
- (See the National Eating Disorders Association's website for more symptoms.)
Make yourself familiar with these symptoms and keep your eyes peeled! If you know the signs, then you will be better equipped to identify unhealthy habits before they have the chance to develop into an eating disorder!
2. Check Your Heart
Now that you know the signs, what’s next? Well, before you go rush off to talk to your daughter about any symptoms you may have identified, it’s extremely important for you to check your heart. Yes, yours! While it may not be a fun exercise, ask yourself the following questions below and be honest about your answers:
What is your attitude towards weight and appearance? Do you show favoritism to those who are considered beautiful by the world’s standards and look down on those who are not? Or do you treat all people equally and with respect regardless of their weight or outward appearance?
How do you speak to your daughter about herself and others? Your daughter needs to know that you love her unconditionally! Any negative comments about her appearance or attempts to change her looks may cause her to believe that she is not loved unless she looks a certain way. Similarly, negative comments about the appearances of others will condition her to place her value in her appearance and what others think about her.
What are you modeling? Do you talk negatively about yourself and your body? Or, do you express acceptance of your body and pursue physical wellness in a healthy way?
What are your dreams & goals for your daughter? Do you place too much pressure on your daughter to perform, whether in sports, academics, or looks? This pressure can lead her to have unhealthy and unrealistic standards for her physical appearance.
Creating a healthy and loving environment where your daughter can thrive is essential for preventing the development of an eating disorder. Letting her know that she is loved unconditionally by you and by God will produce in her a confidence that will shine through in the way that she views herself and others!
If you think your daughter may be developing or already has an eating disorder and don’t know how to address it, check out this blog post! It will give you tips on how to talk to your daughter about anorexia (if she doesn’t have this specific disorder, the same principles still apply!), along with several more steps you can take to walk alongside her as you work through this struggle together!
3. Tell Her "Why?"
Does your daughter know the reason why she should desire to take care of her body? Do you?
No matter how many conversations you have with your daughter, or medical treatments she receives, if the solution is not built upon the foundation of God’s Word, it won’t last!
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
The reason why we should take care of our bodies is not so that we can gain the approval of others, but because we desire to glorify God!
Does your daughter understand this truth?
If not, check out Dannah’s book Raising Body-Confident Daughters to learn how to have conversations that will instill confidence built upon the foundation of God’s Word!
4. Know When & Where to Get Help
Lastly, know when and where to get help. If this is an emergency, get help immediately! For free Christian counseling, contact Focus on the Family at 1-855-771-HELP (4357), Monday through Friday, 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM (MT). They will connect you with further counseling and resources to address the situation. Also, consider calling the National Eating Disorder Association’s helpline. All you have to do is text “NEDA” to 741741 to be connected with a trained volunteer at the Crisis Text Line.
Click here for more resources!
Even if your daughter does not currently struggle with an eating disorder, it is likely that someone she knows does. By telling her the “Why?” behind learning to take care of her body and taking steps to prevent the development of eating disorders, you are not only preparing her to live a life that glorifies God, but allowing her to be a light to everyone else around her!
Looking for more ways to bring wellness and Truth into your daughters daily life?! Check out the all new True Girl subscription box! This month, we are shipping THE WELLNESS BOX! It contains all the great stuff you need to complete a simple but life-changing month of mom+daughter wellness, and will take you and your daughter into the "why" of caring for our bodies. Each day's devos will help her understand that her body was created to honor God.
The mom+daughter date in this month's subscription box will help you and your girl will dive into a conversation about both physical and spiritual wellness. (And she'll love the fun tools we're including to make it practical...like a CamelBak water bottle she can decorate with her own set of True Girl stickers, a jump rope that tracks her jumps, and a True Girl pedometer wrist watch.) Your box will include everything you need to kick off a month-long wellness challenge!