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How to Help Children to prevent Childhood Obesity and Eating Disorders

Abstract: Parents can prevent their children from developing an eating disorders. They may for example help them to experience healthy hunger and feelings of satisfaction by encouraging them to respect their own body signals.

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How to Help Children to prevent Childhood Obesity and Eating Disorders

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Question(s): 
Written by: Gunborg Palme, certified psychologist and certified psychotherapist, teacher and tutor in psychotherapy.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 05 Aug 2008.

How can I prevent my children from childhood obesity and getting eating disorders?

Answer:

Parents can help children experience healthy hunger and feelings of satisfaction by encouraging them to respect their own body signals. They should not impose their own opinions about eating upon their children. The children themselves, of course, have to feel whether they are hungry or satisfied. Parents should avoid giving children food as a consolation or reward. The child's own hunger signals must be the basis of a decision. Food should not be associated with anything other than physical hunger. Parents should make sure that there is always wholesome food available at home and try to avoid having tempting junk food within reach. Children may think that junk food is tastier and choose to satisfy their hunger with it. By so doing, they deprive their growing bodies of the nutrition they urgently need.

It is difficult for all parents to satisfy children's needs, especially if they are emotionally disturbed themselves, or pre-occupied with their own problems. They can then find it extra hard to interpret a child's expression of its needs.

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