Reporters Starving for Perfection

I shouldn't complain. I would have been so happy, five years ago, to see all the good things in the CBS report, Tweens Starving for Perfection.

Talk of predisposition, of the dangers of the OBESITY hysteria: yay! The refreshing lack of the phrase "all about control" and not one word of parent blaming. I should be very happy.

But it ends with this:

"If parents notice behaviors like these, Shaw said, parents can start by having the child's doctor talk about the importance of eating from all the food groups, but if it's more serious, she suggested the child may need to be hospitalized."

Head = Desk = Head = Desk.

Eating disorders are not wrong thinking gone overboard. Eating disorders are a brain disorder triggered by physiological processes like undernourishment, stress, illness, over-exercise. That little chat about "eating from all the food groups" may be DIAGNOSTIC but it isn't therapeutic.
Start with a diagnosis based on behaviors and attitudes and get the information from the parents. Start with an eating disorder specialist familiar with and trained in the most recent advances in treatment. Start with normalizing food and behaviors around food. Start early. Start strong.

The distance between "we're going to visit your doctor" and "hospitalization" is an educated parent.


  1. Oh, yeah. I took my young child to the doctor as soon as I noticed her ED symptoms. He gave her a little talk about good nutrition. On the way home in the car, she said that she was glad that they had that "talk", because now she realized that she shouldn't be eating any fats. Nothing I said would convince her that he had said nothing of the kind. My first "Head = Desk" moment, except mine was "Head = Dashboard". As if the "doc talk" could head off a true Eating Disorder, or that hospitalization was the next step after that "talk."

  2. Such all or nothing advice can confuse the heck out of a parent who IS offered evidence based home treatment too - like "if they're not offering immediate hospitalisation are they not taking it seriously"

  3. Our ped told my d, "I'm trying to lose weight, which is probably just as hard as it is for you to gain weight!" Thanks, Doc.

    Just like you can't "talk" someone out of a fear of flying, you cannot talk an kid with AN out of takes time, hard work, and food. The talk that should be had is -- "you have to eat. Your parents and I,, as your doctor will help you do this, since you cannot do it on your own."

  4. My parents took me to a doctor once who gave the nutrition talk and the doctor told me to start eating more and "it can even be just lots and lots and lots of vegetables if you want." When I told my friends/family that the doctor said that, they thought I was lying.


    This is an interesting article I read today in the NY Times. Though it does not deal with eating disorders specifically, I can identify with the described "post-treatment" letdown, and I feel as though many others can relate. Leaving inpatient and going straight back to boarding school life was a harsh transition. I know that there were other patients who felt similar ambivalence to leaving treatment. In retrospect, I can see how little the EDU program did to prepare me for the "real world"...

  6. Have you contacted the reporter with your concerns? Maybe in future reporting, they will be better informed.

  7. Right. Because talking about food groups will obviously cure an eating disorder. It reminds me of all the people who told me all I had to do was just rethink my priorities and stop making thin-ness such a priority in my life. Arrggh. And if the food groups talk doesn't work the only other possible solution is the hospital. So frustrating.


  9. Also in the news as of late, though I'm sure you've probably already read this, but just in case you haven't...

    "Teens With Eating Disorders Benefit From Parents' Help: Research shows that recovery improves with family involvement"

  10. Oh, yes, yes, yes, Laura! When I think how ignorant I was when this began I could cry. What on earth made me think that every doctor/psychiatrist/psychologist we consulted would be the expert who would save my daughter's life, I can't imagine.
    Knowledge has empowered me to help my precious girl. I'll never be the same again...and, thank God, neither will she!


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