Kids & Teens Articles

3 Common Myths About Eating Disorders

Friday, March 1st, 2013

NEDAwarenesweek 2013

This week is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. The goal is to increase awareness and education about eating disorders.

Eating disorders are serious illnesses. But, sadly, in our society, they’re both belittled and deeply misunderstood. That’s why, today, I’d like to focus on dispelling several common myths about EDs.

Below, two experts from the Eating Recovery Center share the truth behind the misconceptions.


7 Tips To Help Kids Cope With Stress

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

riding bikes w brian, instagram

Stress can spark disordered eating. While the relationship between the two is complex and varies by person, many people turn to food — or away from food — in times of stress. Controlling food intake becomes a way to cope.

In other words, “many people react to stress by under- or over-eating,” according to Jamie Manwaring, PhD, a primary therapist at Eating Recovery Center’s Child and Adolescent Behavioral Hospital.

When stress strikes, kids may also seek comfort in bingeing or restricting how much they eat.


Helping Your Child Have A Healthy Relationship With Food: Part 3 With Dr. Katja Rowell

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

This is the last part of my interview with Dr. Katja Rowell, M.D., a feeding specialist and author of the must-read book Love Me, Feed Me: The Adoptive Parents’ Guide to Ending the Worry About Weight, Picky Eating, Power Struggles and More. (I highly recommend it for all parents!)

Below, Dr. Rowell reveals the practical and effective ways parents can help their children build a healthy relationship with food. Specifically, she follows Ellyn Satter’s evidence-based feeding models: The Trust Model and Division of Responsibility. I wish these models were standard practice in every pediatrician and dietitian’s office.

Dr. Rowell also discusses healthy eating and feeding in our earlier interviews on Weightless. Be sure to check out parts one, two and three.

Learn more about Dr. Rowell at her website, and read her fantastic blog. Also, check out these valuable additional resources from Dr. Rowell’s website.


Myths & Facts About Feeding Your Kids: Part 2 With Dr. Katja Rowell

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

One of the things I love about feeding specialist Dr. Katja Rowell’s new book Love Me, Feed Me: The Adoptive Parents’ Guide to Ending the Worry About Weight, Picky Eating, Power Struggles and More is that it debunks many damaging myths about what it means to raise a healthy child with a healthy relationship with food.

The problem with these myths is that they steer parents in the wrong — and unhealthy — direction. They often cause kids to obsess over food and create needless conflict between parents and their children. Mealtime becomes a battle.

Below, in part two of our interview, Dr. Rowell shares seven common myths and facts on everything from limiting portions to forbidding foods to controlling weight.

Love Me, Feed Me is truly a comprehensive, wise and practical guide in nourishing your child, ending food obsession and addressing common concerns, such as developmental delays and sensory problems. And, ultimately, it empowers parents to connect with their kids through feeding.

Learn more about Dr. Rowell at her website, and read her fantastic blog. Also, check out these valuable additional resources from Dr. Rowell’s website.


Helping Adoptive Parents Overcome Feeding Problems: Q&A With Dr. Katja Rowell

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

November is National Adoption Month, so I wanted to talk about an often neglected yet critical concern for adoptive and foster families: problems with feeding.

It’s a very complex issue, but kids who are adopted or in foster care tend to be especially susceptible to eating struggles. And, unfortunately, the resources on feeding are scarce. Or, if parents do receive advice, it’s often misguided, exacerbating the problem and leading kids to obsess over food.

That’s why I’m so honored to present my interview with Dr. Katja Rowell, MD, a family doctor and feeding specialist. I’m a huge fan of Dr. Rowell and her positive work in helping parents raise healthy kids. (I’ve also interviewed her before on Weightless.)

Recently, she’s published an excellent book called Love Me, Feed Me: The Adoptive Parents’ Guide to Ending the Worry About Weight, Picky Eating, Power Struggles and MoreIt dispels common — and damaging — myths about healthy feeding and is packed with evidence-based practices for helping your child build a nourishing relationship with food.

It’s a compassionate, practical and safe resource, which I highly recommend to all parents. (By the way, you can win a copy below!)

In part one of our interview, Dr. Rowell delves into why adopted and foster kids struggle with eating and how a healthy relationship with food is at the core of children’s happiness.

Learn more about Dr. Rowell at her website, and read her fantastic blog.


Athletes & Disordered Eating: What Parents Need To Know

Friday, August 31st, 2012

{via etsy by Michele Maule}

Sports offer many physical benefits. They also teach leadership skills, teamwork, discipline and life lessons. Kids who participate in sports even tend to do better in school. And sports are fun.

But participating in a sport can also become a slippery slope to unhealthy and dangerous behaviors. And they can trigger eating disorders in individuals who are already genetically vulnerable to EDs.

I had the pleasure of talking with Doug Bunnell, Ph.D, vice president and co-director at the The Renfrew Center Foundation, about why the athletic environment can become harmful and what parents and caregivers can do.

So what is it about sports that can serve as a slippery slope?


Teen Week: What I’d Tell My Younger Self About Body Image & Life

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

I’m honored to be participating in Mara’s Teen Week: Words That Heal, an annual blog series where bloggers reveal their experiences with body image, sexuality, and self-esteem during their teen years.

I’ve talked before about my sad body image as a teen. My negative body image was intertwined with my low self-esteem and shaky sense of self. (Clearly, a winning combination.)

Thankfully, many years later, I’ve learned a thing or two. And I’m in a much healthier place.

Here are the secrets I wish I could’ve shared with my teen self.


Raising Confident Daughters: Q&A With Barb Steinberg

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

{via pinterest}

It’s hard enough being an adult in today’s world, filled with weight-loss and diet commercials, airbrushed images, a relentless emphasis on appearance and an obsession with dieting and shame around eating.

Being a girl? Probably even more confusing and potentially damaging and demoralizing.

As I wrote in an older post on Weightless, tween and teen girls are just starting to form to their identities and figure out the world. They’re trying to make friends, yearning to belong and fit in, maybe even being bullied, dealing with a changing body, dealing with academic and other social pressures and trying to make sense of an often contradictory and damaging culture.

So what can parents and caregivers do to help girls grow up with a healthy sense of self?


New Year’s Resolutions For Kids: Going Beyond Beauty & Appearance

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

{via pinterest}

I know that we’ve talked a lot about New Year’s resolutions already. But I just came across a fantastic post by blogger and high school senior Fiona Lowenstein over at Rachel Simmons’s blog.

In it, Fiona suggests teen girls try out these 10 meaningful resolutions, instead of the usual appearance-based goals we typically see around this time.

In fact, if you’re a parent, why not talk to your kids about setting goals? You might set authentic resolutions as a family. And you might start a conversation with your child about what they’ve been reading or seeing about resolutions.

With the surge in weight-loss and diet commercials, ads and articles, this time of year is annoying at best and potentially harmful at worst. Kids soak up what they see in our shallow society and learn that beauty and thin are in — usually above all else.

But this time also presents a perfect opportunity for talking to your kids about our warped culture and body image and eating issues.


Helping Your Daughter Build A Positive Body Image

Monday, June 13th, 2011

Every Monday features a tip, activity, inspiring quote or some other tidbit to help boost your body image – and kick-start the week on a positive note!

Got a tip for improving body image? Email me at mtartakovsky at gmail dot com, and I’ll be happy to feature it. I’d love to hear from you!

How do you respond when your daughter says: “I have such huge thighs, I hate them!” Or what do you do when she’s clearly wearing something that just doesn’t work?

And better yet, how do you help her cultivate a healthy body image in an appearance- and thin-obsessed society?

While it might seem impossible, there are many things you can do.

Recently, I was re-reading Dara Chadwick’s You’d Be So Pretty If…Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies-Even When We Don’t Love Our Own, and found some fantastic advice for  the “tricky body moments that sometimes crop up.”

As Dara writes, “Mothers are powerful. What we say about our bodies-and those of our daughters-has a lasting effect on the way they see themselves.”

  • Watch your words. For years, I was totally 100 percent guilty of this: saying disparaging remarks about my body (and anything about myself for that matter). But here’s the thing: Your daughter is listening and watching. As Dara says, “if your daughter is in the room, think of her, and bite your tongue.”
  • Question your questions. What the heck do you say if your daughter says “Are my legs fat?” or “Do these pants make my butt look big?” Dara suggests turning it around and asking what your daughter thinks. “By probing a little, you may be able to find out what she needs to hear.”
  • Try a little time-travel. “Before you unleash a criticism of what she’s wearing or even the slightest comment about her body, stop, close your eyes and remember what is was like to be an adolescent.”
  • Spread it around. There’s nothing wrong with praising your daughter’s or someone else’s appearance. But “just remember to dole it our fairly and not make your praise about appearance all the time for …

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