Unhealthy Eating Habits

Dinner time in our family has always been one of the things I look forward to most. It is a time when we can all come together, share a meal, and talk about our day. I recently have noticed that my daughter Fadiera has not been herself during dinner.

I have noticed that she seems to pick at her food, push it around her plate, and try to excuse herself quickly. I have tried asking her if something wrong or something else she would prefer to have for dinner. I have not been successful in getting her to engage in this topic.

Fadiera has always been an eater, not unhealthy, but it was not uncommon for her to have some food in her mouth most of the time. Recently the opposite seems to be true. I can’t even remember the last time I saw her eat a snack.

I thought that this was just a phase until last weekend. I needed a few things at the mall, so I asked Fadiera if she would like to come with me and grab some Chinese food. At first, my offer was met with enthusiasm, but she requested that we go somewhere to eat where everything was not carbs on our way to the mall. I don’t think I have ever heard my teen mention carbs in her life. Her next request was even more shocking. She asked that we have food after she went clothes shopping, so she was not fat while trying them on. On some level, I could empathize with this. Who loves feeling bloated?

I let the conversation go as we arrived at the mall. I figured this is something that we could come back to later. We had a great time shopping and were finishing up in the last store where Fadiera was trying to find new jeans. While she was in the fitting room, I was holding some of her items and happened to look down and notice that the pants were two sizes smaller than what I had bought her the last time we were shopping. That was just six months ago. This scared me. I managed to keep it together through the rest of our shopping trip and until we got home.

Once we were home, I told my daughter that we needed to talk. I explained to her my concerns and asked her about what has been going on. Fadiera said to me that she has been trying to lose weight. She told me that she was unhappy with her body and that she didn’t like her stomach at all. She described herself as disgusting, fat, and jiggly. This just broke my heart.

I talked to Fadiera about how much she has been eating and was astonished at how little she took in. I expressed my concern about her restrictions and weight loss. I told her that this type of behavior can lead to many health problems and was serious. I explained that she would need to go to the doctor to ensure that she was okay and get some guidance.

Generally, as a parent, I try to help my teen through most of her concerns, but I would enlist help with this one. Eating Disorders are serious and need to be addressed as soon as possible by professionals. As she went upstairs, I called and made her an appointment for early next week. I am not sure what the next few weeks will hold for us, but I know that I will do everything I can to help my daughter through this.

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Children & Young Adults Eating Disorder Statistics

  • 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.1
  • 81% of 10 year old children are afraid of being fat.17
  • 46% of 9-11 year-olds are “sometimes” or “very often” on diets.2
  • 35-57% of adolescent girls engage in crash dieting, fasting, self-induced vomiting, diet pills, or laxatives.3
  • In a college campus survey, 91% of the women admitted to controlling their weight through dieting.4
  1. Collins, M., H.S.D., M.P.H. (1991). Body figure perceptions and preferences among preadolescent children. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 10(2), 199-208. https://doi.org/10.1002/1098-108X(199103)10:2%3C199::AID-EAT2260100209%3E3.0.CO;2-D
  2. McNutt, S. W., Hu, Y., Schreiber, G. B., Crawford, P. B., Obarzanek, E., & Mellin, L. (1997). A longitudinal study of the dietary practices of black and white girls 9 and 10 years old at enrollment: the NHLBI Growth and Health Study. The Journal of Adolescent Health, 20(1), 27–37. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1054-139X(96)00176-0
  3. Gustafson-Larson, A. M., & Terry, R. D. (1992). Weight-related behaviors and concerns of fourth-grade children. Journal of the American Dietetic Association92(7), 818–822. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1624650/
  4. Boutelle, K., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., & Resnick, M. (2002). Weight control behaviors among obese, overweight, and nonoverweight adolescents. Journal of Pediatric Psychology27(6), 531–540. https://doi.org/10.1093/jpepsy/27.6.531
  5. Noordenbos, G., Oldenhave, A., Muschter, J., & Terpstra, N. (2002). Characteristics and treatment of patients with chronic eating disorders. Eating Disorders10(1), 15–29. https://doi.org/10.1080/106402602753573531