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Growing up afraid to eat
Posted By JOANNE RICHARD
Posted 5 hours ago
Teen girls are regularly skipping meals as they hunger to be thin.
According to a poll, 10% of 14 and 15 year olds are routinely skipping
two meals a day -- breakfast and lunch; 26% regularly skip breakfast
and 22% go without lunch.
The survey, by the Schools Health Education Unit, also reveals 40% of 10 and 11 year
olds think they're overweight -- 7% of them are passing on breakfast, and 20% of 12 and 13-year-olds are going
without the first meal of the day.
Weight specialist Dr. Dan Kirschenbaum has seen girls as young as Grade 1 worried about their weight.
Obesity levels are high and the media's focus is constantly on weight,
bombarding females with unrealistic body images, says Kirschenbaum.
Weight fixations flourish, feeding unhealthy behaviours, including
"Without effective guidance for how to maintain healthy weight or to
lose weight, teenagers thrash about in their attempts to match those
almost impossible images," he says.
"Some of this thrashing results in extreme dieting behaviours, very few
of which could be sustained, and many of which are quite harmful,
including smoking cigarettes as a weight losing strategy."
Celebrity skinny is elusive for most women, he says,
and in many cases, those standards are far too thin from a health
perspective; for example, the 5-foot-11-inch model who is required to
weigh about 100 pounds.
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According to naturopathic doctor Janine Bowring, today's hectic
lifestyle has more people skipping meals and eating on the run--if they
eat at all.
"Teenage girls are no exception to this trend. Young girls also fall
prey to the idealistic body images they see on TV and in magazines.
Teenage girls struggle with self-esteem even without these outside
pressures to be thin."
Skipping meals or eating very little will not help drop pounds, says
Bowring. "The reverse is true because our metabolic rate slows down
when we do not eat regularly, thus making us gain weight when we do
Sadly, we only pay lip service to body acceptance: "Our culture does
not celebrate all body sizes. The culture remains fixated on: Thin is
in. Obesity is soaring because of many things, including a powerful
food industry that advocates for high fat food, an increasingly
sedentary existence, and misinformation about what to do about excess
weight," says Kirschenbaum, clinical director of Wellspring Academies,
weight loss organizations for teens.
According to Kirschenbaum, on a short term or occasional basis, skipping one or two meals will not produce harmful effects.
"Our bodies come from our hunter-gatherer ancestors who did not have
refrigerators or convenience stores -- and who sometimes had
difficulties finding enough food to eat.
"On the other hand, if we don't get enough food to eat for major
periods of time, we run the risk of using protein within the body --
muscles, organs --for energy," he adds.
Bowring says that when you do not eat regularly, your insulin and glucagon levels get out of balance.
"When you finally eat, you may overeat too much of the wrong foods to
fill you up, typically carbohydrates. Carbohydrates will spike the
insulin levels, putting you in fat storage mode, instead of fat
burning. This is one major reason we are seeing obesity levels rise,
even though many are skipping meals."
She says the more we worry about our weight, the more we eat. We tend to make better meal choices when we worry less, she says.
"Due to great marketing campaigns and more food-focused media, food has
become so much more than fuel and our obesity rates are showing it."
Parents need to educate their children about healthy eating, stresses
Bowring, and that means they need to educate themselves first about
what constitutes a healthy meal plan.
"Waiting until they are teenagers is much too late. Emotional health
develops from early childhood and needs to be reinforced by parents
acting as positive role models," says Bowring.
Raise strong women
Raise strong females who value themselves beyond the numbers on the scale. Psychologist Dan Kirschenbaum offers these tips:
* Encourage athletics and reinforce power and strength.
* Do not poke fun at anyone based on excess weight, and condemn such talk in your household.
* Point out examples of strong healthy and not excessively thin women -and describe them as beautiful.
accomplishments in school and talent/skills having nothing to do with
weight; for example singing; creating beautiful essays or art.
* Get materials on accomplished women, including going to movies or renting movies about such people.
* Talk about the advantages of health and strength versus thinness.
* Parents should exercise regularly and encourage the same with their children, again focusing on health and strength.
* Point to the unrealistic thinness that they see in magazines and movies -and label it just that.
* Help daughters see the sexism in this excessive focus on thinness -noting that men are not held to that crazy standard.
* Find articles and books that make related points and encourage their daughters to read same.
Article ID# 2261019