Monday, December 13, 2010

Eating Disorders: Two suggestions

“Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, ‘Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them.’” Mark 7:14-15

This is a difficult topic, but a reality in our world today that requires some biblical interpretation. Some estimate that 1 or 2% of teens will struggle with an eating disorder. So what constitutes an eating disorder?

This is more than your average “picky” eater, or food preferences that go beyond your limits of tolerance. An eating disorder is an extreme eating pattern that begins to negatively impact other bodily functions or normal living.

The two most common are anorexia and bulimia. People with anorexia have an extreme fear of weight gain and a distorted view of their body size or shape. As a result, they can’t maintain a normal body weight. A person with bulimia will binge eat (excessive food intake) and then seek to compensate in extreme ways, such as forced vomiting, use of laxatives, or rigorous exercise in order to prevent weight gain. Both of these disorders cause a person to feel out of control, and represent unhealthy eating habits. Without treatment, both of these disorders can lead toward death.

What do you need to watch for, or understand as a parent?

1. The problem starts within – Just as Jesus pointed out that what goes into a person’s body doesn’t defile him, so too eating disorders are ultimately not about food, but the emotional disposition of the person who struggles with food. Yes, there is a very physical dimension to eating disorders, but as a parent, you’re primary concern should be to watch for your kids to develop a healthy perspective on their bodies. When you hear things like, “I’ll never be thin enough” or “Why can’t I look like other kids” keep your eyes open for signs that your son or daughter is trying to achieve a body image that doesn’t fit. Most of all, help your child differentiate between God-given body type and the body-image promoted by the world. One leads to health; the other, despair.

2. Do not live in denial – If you perceive that your child is experimenting with extreme diets, either with intake of calories or ways of burning them off, get involved. Way too many kids end up hospitalized before their parents were willing to acknowledge an eating problem. So, be observant. Is your child eating large quantities of junk food in private? Does she leave the table immediately after each meal in order to purge? Can you see your child becoming thinner while she or he continues to talk about being fat? If so, take steps to address these observations with your child openly, and get a doctor’s opinion if your child doesn’t seem to agree.

Track back to the original posting at T Bar M Camps - Family Matters Devotionals by clicking here. You can also find a list of other devotional topics which may be helpful on your parenting journey.

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