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Respecting Your Teen's Growing Body & Food Choices for Eating Disorder Prevention

Parents, I know you mean well when you point out your teens' weight gain or nudge them toward dieting; but these things don't help.

Your teen's body is doing its job when it gains weight. That's what a maturing body does! When you project your anxiety onto their growing body, it will become their shame.

And when it comes to food, respect their choices. You taught them what you could about nutrition when they were little. But now, they need more autonomy. Respect their boundaries by honoring their food choices.

In a culture where weight and eating patterns are so toxically linked to worth, micromanaging your teen's weight and food is unlikely to make them healthier. It might turn them against themselves, cause obsessions and insecurity, and even trigger an eating disorder. T

There are so many ways to support your child's health and prevent eating disorders. Check out a few below...

  • As a parent or caregiver of a teenager, respect their boundaries when it comes to their body and food choices. Remember, it's their body and their business.

  • Be aware of the language you use when discussing food and eating habits. Self-deprecating comments about weight or eating can negatively impact your teen's self-image, even if they're directed towards yourself.

  • Focus on your teen's unique gifts and strengths and opportunities for personal growth. Support them in being who they are, rather than worrying about what they're not.

  • As a role model, show your teen healthy mindsets like self-acceptance, self-compassion, making time to relax and enjoy life, listening to your body's needs, and connecting with others. These actions can help shape their healthy body image.

  • If you're worried about your teen's body or eating habits, seek help to ease your concerns. Projecting weight anxiety onto your teens can lead to feelings of shame for them.

  • Remember that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes, and they naturally transform throughout life stages. Instead of criticizing or fighting these changes, allow your teen (and yourself) the freedom to adapt.

  • Normalize the body transformations that occur as family members experience puberty, pregnancy, stress, life changes, and menopause. It's healthy to embrace your evolving body!

  • If you feel stuck, feel unsure, or have concerns that your child is developing an eating disorder, reach out for a parent consult at

  • If you have a young child and want to learn about fostering a healthy relationship with food, check out my associate Nicole Cruz, RD.

All of these mindsets and attitudes toward your child's growing body and appetite will help them grow more confident and healthy through puberty, and will surely go a long way in eating disorder prevention!


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