How To Prevent Eating Disorders In Children
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Dr. Cabanna-Hodge at https://drrosann.com
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Transcript for How To Prevent Eating Disorders In Children:
Kristina: Welcome Impactful Parents. Today we’re going to talk about How To Prevent Eating Disorders In Children, and I have a very special guest. Her name is Roseann Capanna-Hodge, and she’s a mental health trailblazer. She’s the founder of The Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health, and she has helped 1000s of people! Roseann is often featured on Fox, on CBS, on NBC, on Forbes, on Parents, in the New York Times, etc.! It is my privilege to have Roseann here today to talk about eating disorders. Thank you, Roseann.
Roseann: Thanks, Kristina, for that awesome introduction. I’m glad to talk about eating disorders because our kids’ mental health and teens’ mental health are struggling. The more information we can give to parents, the more they can take action.
Kristina: And that’s exactly why I brought you on The Impactful Parent today. Sadly, we need to talk about eating disorders. Still, it is common and so much more prevalent than I think anybody really wants to admit. We need to talk about it so that parents can catch these signs early. So, that’s my first question for you. What are the signs of an eating disorder? What should parents be looking out for?
Roseann: Great question. Some of the early signs of an eating disorder may overlap with other mental health conditions, especially in kids under 12. This makes signs hard to see. Signs can show up as food restricting. Many kids are labeled as ‘picky eaters,’ right Kristina? Many kids can have issues with the textural components of food. They can just not like a lot of things. There’s just a lot of reasons children get labeled as picky. But when your kid is a restricted eater, they are at higher risk of an eating disorder. Also, having anxiety, depression, fears, or any family member with a history of an eating disorder, can put your child at a much higher risk of eating disorders.
Anytime we’re talking about kids in terms of emotional health, we’re going to look for behavioral signs. We’re going to look for things out of the usual—things like sleep problems, irritability, and anything that’s a change in their behavior. Most eating disorders develop in adolescence and pre-adolescence. When kids are going through puberty. These are sensitive times. And, many mental health issues are not apparent to a lot of people because many people who struggle with anxiety, depression, and eating disorders are pretty functional until they’re not. So many times, parents are caught off guard. They don’t realize their child has been binging or purging or food restricting until it’s gotten to the point that their child needs help.
Kristina: Tell me a little more about the difference between restrictive eating and eating disorders.
Rosann: Restrictive eating is anytime a child is not eating enough nutrients. Restrictive eating can be based on many things. Sometimes it’s emotional, and they’re actually beginning to get the eating disorder signs. Some kids are restrictive eaters because of sensory issues. And there are groups of children that are more likely to be restricted eaters, such as kids on the autism spectrum. Or children with OCD tend to struggle with sensory issues. Some people restrict their food based on having obsessive worries about the food itself or even fears of throwing up. Surprisingly, the fear of throwing up can be common.
Some restrictive eaters don’t meet the clinical criteria for an eating disorder because they may not binge or purge. For example, anorexia is truly an eating disorder.
There are many reasons why eating disorders develop. Having even one family member living in your house greatly raises the chances of others in the house developing an eating disorder. Eating disorders can also stem from anxiety, depression, trauma, or even just wanting to fit in. Many kids start to cut back on their food intake, and new habits start to develop into an eating disorders. There are other risk factors, too, as a controlling parent.
Kristina: Is emotional eating and eating disorder?
Roseann: Well, you know, it’s like stress and anxiety. So we have emotional eating, and then we have eating disorders. Does everybody who emotional eats has an eating disorder? No. Can you be an emotional eater with an eating disorder? Yeah! Whenever we talk about clinical things, it has to rise to a certain level to be considered a problem. Suppose you’re emotional eating every day, and you’re binge eating. In that case, you’re probably moving toward (or already have) an eating disorder.
Kristina: Would you consider a child that will only eat white foods or goldfish to have an eating disorder? Where is the line between a picky eater and an eating disorder?
Roseann: Great question.
Kristina: I do a lot of work in the gifted Ed population, and those kids often have super sensitivities. Clothing tags can be a problem, and their tastebuds can be sensitive too. Being sensitive to the texture of food can be a real problem for parents and kids. How do you respect the kid for having a true sensitivity and get them the nutrition they need?
Roseann: Kids can also develop allergies to the foods they crave. It is not an impossible thing to break, but it is definitely an issue! Parents need their kids to eat a VARIETY of foods so that the nutrition in their diet is whole. Kids need different nutrients for their brains.
Kristina: What should parents do if they suspect their child is a restrictive eater or has an eating disorder?
Roseann: If you think your child has an eating disorder, you need to go to a professional who’s trained in eating disorders. Eating disorders are what we call ‘treatment-resistant.’ This means that it is not an easy issue to deal with. The sooner you address it, the better your resolution.
If you suspect a problem, there probably is a problem. Don’t wait. Get help. Nobody ever regrets getting help. They only regret when they don’t. The first place I would go for help would be a naturopathic functional physician. You want somebody that can help look at your child’s vitamin intake and see if your child has zinc deficiency. Zinc deficiencies are one of the most common reasons for restricted eaters. Fixing zinc problems can improve your child’s taste buds. I would also look into getting an OCD, autism, or therapist.
Kristina: All this information is wonderful. I appreciate you coming to the show today. How can my audience get ahold of you if they want to know more or get your help?
Rosann: First of all, I have a book coming out. It’s called, It’s gonna be okay. In my book, I teach people they should never feel like they’re defined by genetics. I give parents proven ways to reverse their child’s mental health issues. You can buy it on Amazon. My website is: https://drrosann.com
I’m really on a mission to change mental health!
Kristina: Thank you for being on today, Roseann. You have so much to offer!
And parents, get help early for your child or yourself. But until next time, you got this. We are just here to help.