My daughter is at a completely healthy weight. But yesterday I heard her say, "I'm fat!" It broke my heart! Is this normal? Should I be worried about an eating disorder? And what can I say to help her feel better about her body?
Every time kids open a magazine or watch a music video, they probably see "perfect" people — girls and women with stick-thin bodies, men with huge, perfectly-formed muscles, and none with so much as a blemish on their faces. Be aware of the messages these images are sending. It's important to make sure your daughter knows they're not reality — that many of these models eat poorly, or have a staff of makeup and hair artists, and that many of these pictures are doctored with computer airbrushing that removes all flaws.
And by all means, encourage your daughter to eat healthy. Let her know that it's natural for many preteen and adolescent girls to have a little extra fat — and that it's a healthy sign that her body is starting to develop and mature. Be sure to compliment her on her appearance — but also be sure to compliment her inner beauty, intelligence, actions and accomplishments, and her body's strength, coordination, grace, or athleticism. This way, you remind her that there's so much more to her than her appearance and help nurture a positive self-image.
If your daughter's concerns about her weight or her body start to interfere with her regular habits of eating and being active, talk to your doctor. Unbalanced fitness and nutrition habits — and poor self-image — can lead to eating disorders, which can hurt her health now and affect her long-term reproductive and bone health.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: July 2013
|National Eating Disorders Association The NEDA is a nonprofit association dedicated to the prevention and treatment of eating disorders. Contact them at: National Eating Disorders Association|
603 Stewart St.
Suite 803 Seattle, WA 98101
|National Center for Nutrition and Dietetics Offering nutrition information, resources, and access to registered dietitians.|
|ChooseMyPlate.gov ChooseMyPlate.gov provides practical information on how to follow the U.S. government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It includes resources and tools to help families lead healthier lives.|
|American Council on Exercise (ACE) ACE promotes active, healthy lifestyles by setting certification and education standards for fitness instructors and through ongoing public education about the importance of exercise.|
|The Deal With Diets With all the focus on dieting, how do you figure out what's healthy and what isn't? Read this article to get the basics on dieting.|
|Help! Is This My Body? Your body's changing - and if you've ever felt out of step with it, you're not alone. Find out how to deal with body changes and feelings in this article.|
|Body Image and Self-Esteem When your body changes, so can your image of yourself. Find out how your body image affects your self-esteem and what you can do.|
|Am I Fat or Are My Eyes Playing Tricks? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|A Guy's Guide to Body Image Many people think of guys as being carefree when it comes to appearance. But guys spend plenty of time in front of the mirror. And some worry just as much as girls do about their looks.|
|Encouraging a Healthy Body Image A healthy and positive body image means liking your body, appreciating it, and feeling grateful for its qualities and capabilities. Parents can help kids develop a healthy body image.|
|How Can I Improve My Self-Esteem? We all experience problems with self-esteem at certain times in our lives — especially during our teens when we are figuring out who we are and where we fit in the world.|
|Is My Daughter Too Concerned With Her Looks? Find out what the experts have to say.|
|Body Dysmorphic Disorder For teens, concerns about appearances often take center stage. But if these concerns are all-consuming, cause extreme distress, and keep them from doing and thinking about other things, it may be a sign of a condition called body dysmorphic disorder.|
|Body Dysmorphic Disorder For some people, worries about appearance become extreme and upsetting, interfering with their lives, a condition called body dysmorphic disorder.|
|Female Athlete Triad Female athlete triad is a combination of three conditions: disordered eating, amenorrhea (loss of a girl's period), and osteoporosis (a weakening of the bones).|
|Eating Disorders Eating disorders are so common in America that 1 or 2 out of every 100 students will struggle with one. Find out more.|
|Kids and Eating Disorders Eating too little or deliberately throwing up after eating are two serious kinds of eating disorders. Find out more in this article for kids.|
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