Mothers, Daughters and Anorexia

First off I am not inferring in any way that mothers are to blame.

Mothers have the very important job of being a role model for their daughters; who from birth on watch and copy their mother.

Then they become teenagers: they now turn to their peers, what they read in magazines, and watch on T.V., movies and music clips to emulate. Almost all these role models are slim. Everyone is judged on their appearance which as you know is a shallow way of looking at things.

The best thing a mother can do is set a good example, in what she eats and how she exercises; but especially being happy with her own body. Constantly criticising herself and her daughter’s appearance, never being happy with her body shape and size is not giving a good example. And of course when you lose weight everyone praises you, so this does not help when you are trying to encourage your daughter to eat.

The trouble is that the commercial sector is always showing up the faults of a woman’s body: use this cream, do this diet, buy this exercise equipment. Their aim is to keep women unhappy with their appearance and thus buy, buy buy.

Girls as young as 7 and 8 are dieting! This is scary if it gets out of control, it may turn into a serious eating problem.

As you know young girls and teenagers are still growing and need a lot of good nutrition, going on diets is dangerous for their health.

So what are the danger signs for you to watch for?

She will not eat regular meals and she drops weight quickly.

She may get finicky with food, refusing to eat certain foods, especially dairy food, slowly eliminating food after food.

She may be over exercising, being secretive about it and hiding this fact by wearing loose clothes to hide the weight loss.

If she often races to the toilet straight after a meal could be a sign of vomiting.

So what can you do about it?

Telling them that they are getting too slim or that they are losing weight will usually get a negative reply: an argument, an ‘Oh Mum’ response.

Concentrating on her health might give you a better lead into a conversation; gently telling her how tired she has been, that you are worried about her health

Research has shown that the mineral zinc is very much involved with appetite.

Zinc is extremely vital in teenage development, and if this is lacking a person looses their appetite, then this can lead to anorexia. One researcher says it’s the old chicken and/or egg problem: what comes first the chicken or the egg? Does the zinc deficiency lead to anorexia or does anorexia lead to a zinc deficiency? They are so closely related to each other.

Keep a lookout for zits and acne: this is also a sign of a zinc deficiency. A way to get a teenager to take zinc is to inform them of this: they want those zits etc gone!

There is a nearly tasteless zinc liquid preparation which has no calories, which is an easy way to get into a teenager.

Beverley F. Searle
Grad. Cert. Of C. H (Mental Health)
Soc. Sc. (Honors)
Masters of P.H.C.