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Eating Disorders and Kids

Many people with eating disorders started out by dieting in hopes of changing their bodies, believing it would make them happier. In fact, the vast majority of patients at Remuda Ranch (a treatment program for eating disorders) reveal that their eating disorder was triggered simply because they went on a diet, decided to reduce fat in their diet or wanted to eat healthier foods.

The diet industry spends $33 billion-a-year in advertising which contributes to a variety of destructive behaviors and thinking patterns, including the following:

Destructive Thought Patterns

  • Exercise (which is supposed to be enjoyable and lead to good health) has become a compulsive activity for many.
  • Many people focus on eating low fat. This often leads people to eat no fat, which can lead to the thinking that all fat is bad — or even that fat people are lazy and bad.
  • The idea that some foods are "good" and some are "bad" — when the focus should be eating in moderation.
  • Prepubescent teens — whose bodies may become chubby as a natural part of maturing — fail to see their value in any other terms apart from physical appearance.
  • Many teens are trophies to their parents — not the treasures that God designed them to be. Teens who are valued for their performance and looks rather than for who they are, often struggle with eating disorders.
  • Young athletes often practice unhealthy dieting habits in order to meet the standards for their sports. Sixty percent of all models and ballerinas have an eating disorder.

The Destructive Eating Disorder Cycle

  1. We all search for love, acceptance and approval to increase our feelings of worthiness.
  2. Teens have their our own perception of how this need is satisfactorily met. When their need for love, acceptance and approval is not met in a manner that satisfies their perceptions, feelings of inadequacy may lead to low self-esteem.
  3. These negative feelings can cause extreme loneliness and pain.
  4. Eating disorder behavior numbs the pain temporarily.
  5. This addictive and obsessive behavior generally results in severe consequences.
  6. Guilt and shame over the consequences can be overwhelming for a teen.
  7. Often, this shame becomes a powerful feeling of self-hatred, which further distorts the teen's perception of his or her worth and identity.

Then, the cycle begins again. The key to the recovery process begins with professional help, which intervenes in this cycle, addresses the faulty beliefs and perceptions and helps create a more accurate and kinder view of self.

The goal is to help our teens see themselves through the eyes of God and to accept the gift of grace and forgiveness that is available in salvation through Jesus Christ.

If you're concerned that your teenager may be at risk, read on. Through solid facts and real-life stories, you'll find direction and hope for families threatened by eating disorders.

Families like yours helping families thrive.

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