Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Disordered Eating:Youth Trend or Quest for Convenience

We hear a lot about eating disorders in teens, especially girls. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulemia are the top headline grabbers. According to the National Institute of Health "Eating disorders are serious behavior problems. They include
* Anorexia nervosa, in which you become too thin, but you don't eat enough because you think you are fat
*Bulimia nervosa, involving periods of overeating followed by purging, sometimes through self-induced vomiting or using laxatives
*Binge-eating, which is out-of-control eating
Women are more likely than men to have eating disorders. They usually start in the teenage years and often occur along with depression, anxiety disorders and substance abuse." But there exists another type of eating that can also cause undue stress on the body and spirit. It is disordered eating. According to "Disordered eating” is a term used to describe eating habits or patterns that are irregular. Many different types of disordered eating habits exist, but for the most part these habits do not add up to a diagnosis of an eating disorder. Examples of disordered eating is excluding whole food groups (all fats or all carbohydrates), eating only at particular times of the day, eating only specific foods, eating only foods of a specific colour, eating only foods of a specific texture, not eating certain foods together in a sitting or not eating specific foods from the same plate. We tend to focus on eating in America. We eat too much, we eat the wrong things, we are an unhealthy nation because of our diet choices and our food delivery system. At some point, we need to look at food as exactly what it is...fuel. I have heard it said by many nutritionists, calories are calories. They all add fuel to the body regardless of the source. We have always had guidelines on what we should eat and in what quantity, but never to the degree we do now. All of that information is overwhelming and, in some cases confusing. Plus we have more working parents than ever before and the food manufacturers are scrambling to capture just the right convenience food for the working parent that will satisfy the need to provide the family a hearty but quick meal. Take a look at what you eat duing the day. Write it down. Chances are adults offer a peek into disordered eating. Children learn by experience and watching what others are doing in the same situation. Kids lean their eating habits from their family. Culture and location play huges roles in eating habits. Children learn what they like by experience. This holds true for foods as well. A four year old will have a very narrow range of foods they will tolerate given texture, color, appearance and taste. Children's tastes change over time just like ours do. Strange eating habits may not be a cause for alarm or for a trip to a therapist. The thing to pay attention to is the health of the child. Do they meet the normal height and weight parameters for their age? Are they progressing "normally". Most kids take vitamins, so chances are they get their nutritional insurance from a bottle. Parents can help their kids develop good eating habits by allowing them to experiment with foods at their own pace. Experiment with different types of food preparation to enhance the natural flavors of foods, especially vegetables. This is a good chance to teach kids how to pick food at the store and how to cook it once they get it home. Try farmers markets with your kids for a field trip that can become a family event. Children are growing up with packaged, processed foods. We need to be sure they understand the food they depend on for health and wellness. There are many hutitional web sites geared towards children of all ages. Give them a try and help you children handle food without issue. I have included a few for your ease.

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