It’s unfortunate but many teens today are battling an eating disorder. However with the help of parents there are things that can be done to help prevent and reduce the number of teens from developing an eating disorder. To help understand what are some reasons teens develop an eating disorder and what a parent can do to help prevent an eating disorder, I have interviewed therapist Carol Miles MSW, LCSW.
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
“I am a clinical social worker specializing in individual and family psychotherapy, and maintain a private practice in Covington and New Orleans, LA.
With 30 years experience as a clinician, and a graduate of LSU School of Social Work, specializing in clinical social work, I currently work as a private practitioner working with a broad spectrum of clients. Among my areas of expertise are working with clients who have eating disorders. I have often has presented at state wide conferences and to general audiences on topics ranging from eating disorders, assertiveness, and developing a private practice. I also teach as an adjunct professor at the Tulane School of Social Work.”
What are some reasons teen develop an eating disorder?
“Eating disorders come from a combination of many factors, events, feelings or stresses which lead teens to feel unable to cope. These can include: low self-esteem, family relationships, problems with friends, loss, problems at work or school, a lack of self- confidence, or abuse. Many people talk about simply feeling ‘˜too fat’ or ‘˜not good enough’.
Anyone of any age, sex, cultural or racial background may be affected but it is most likely to be a young woman between the ages of 12-25. Research seems to indicate that genetic make-up may have a small impact upon whether or not one has an eating disorder.”
What type of impact can an eating disorder have on a teen?
“There is a long list of physical and psychological symptoms eating disorders. Some physical symptoms for Anorexia are: severe weight loss, periods stopping, hormonal changes in men and boys, difficulty sleeping, dizziness stomach pains, constipation, poor circulation and feeling cold.
Some psychological symptoms for Anorexia are: isolating from family and friends, lying about behaviors related to food and exercise, denial, problems with concentration, mood swings, obsessive thinking, depression, intense fear of weight gain, distorted view of physical self, guilt about food and eating, and control issues.
Some physical symptoms for Bulimia include: sore throat/swollen glands, stomach pains, mouth infections, irregular periods, dry or poor skin, difficulty sleeping, sensitive or damaged teeth, and being sick after eating
Some psychological symptoms for Bulimia include: feeling ashamed, depressed and guilty, feeling out of control, mood swings, feeling guilty and being secretive.”
What can a parent do to prevent their teen from developing an eating disorder?
“I believe that parents can have a substantial effect on their children with their behaviors and attitudes. A parent needs to have and express positive healthy attitudes and behaviors about his/her own body. Kids learn from what you say and do.
A parent should not overemphasize looks, or indicate a preference for the teen if he/she is smaller or thinner. Sometimes a parent may have his/her own myths about dieting and exercise. Be a well-educated parent and role model about sensible eating, exercise and self-acceptance. As a role model, enjoy your body and show your teen how to enjoy what his/her body can do. As a role model, show your teen how to take people for what they are, say and feel with all the diversity that means, not for how they look.
As a parent, do whatever you can to promote self-esteem based on intellectual, athletic and social actions. Encourage males and females to take advantage of opportunities to be all that they can be. A good sense of self and an ability to identify and express that self to others is the best antidote to eating disorders.”
What type professional help is available for a teen that does develop an eating disorder?
“The sooner a teen gets help, the better. It is best to seek help from a team of professionals trained and experienced in working with eating disorders.”
Thank you Carol for doing the interview on teen eating disorders. For more information on Carol Miles or her work you can check out her website on www.carolmiles.com.
Bulimia Nervosa: Symptoms and Treatment
Eating Disorders: Questions and Answers
Understanding Anorexia Nervosa