CHILDREN AND EATING DISORDERS

Today we are fortunate to have an interview with one of the nationally recognized experts in eating disorders, Shoshana Kobrin, who has a new book for you to check out. I have listed Shoshana’s contact information at the end of this entry.

1. Welcome Shoshana and congratulations on your new book, “The Satisfied Soul.” Let’s begin by having you tell our readers a little about yourself.

“Thank you. I’m a licensed Marriage Family Therapist, with a practice in Walnut Creek California, specializing in child therapy and eating disorders. I provide retreats training and workshops as well as publish on the subject.”

2. Many of our readers are parents of young children. Are there warning signs they should be aware of that indicate their child is vulnerable to a future eating disorder?

“The age for developing eating disorders has steadily decreased. We’re now seeing cases of anorexia in children as young as seven. Anorexia and bulimia, however, do not usually develop until puberty. Until then, red flags are: avoiding food, unusual weight loss, obsessive dieting, overweight, obesity, compulsive overeating, struggles over eating, and anxiety about weight.”

3. If a parent sees those warning signs, what would you suggest they do?

“Have your child medically checked out. Many children crave foods with gluten or sugar because they are allergic to them. Only 5% of diets have a permanent effect, so never encourage your child to diet.”

Keep a balanced variety of fresh, unprocessed, additive-free, low-fat and low-sugar foods in the house, but allow some treats as well. Never force children to finish all their food.  Check out the food your child eats in the school cafeteria and encourage the school district to increase healthy offerings.

Our media-driven culture is also a big contributor to eating disorders, both because children see the value being placed on thinness and the ‘perfect’ body as well as the contribution increased technology makes toward a sedentary lifestyle. It’s helpful to both limit television and computer time and encourage a more active lifestyle.

Connection is key. When our human need for closeness is not fulfilled, humans gravitate toward food-related behaviors. Stress, often coming from parents who are ‘too busy’ creates disconnections and troubled family dynamics when parents are unhappy or their relationship is difficult, are major contributors to eating disturbances.

Be open to children’s feelings, especially negative ones. Spend quality time with your children each day, asking open-ended questions, really listening to them and giving positive, understanding feedback. Hug, hold, and cuddle your children, tell them how much you love and appreciate them.

Lastly, and most important: Take care of your own needs, so you’re contented, fulfilled, and able to fill your child’s needs. Accept your children for whom they are, value and love them unconditionally, for they are gifts to you and your gifts to the world.”

4. Our readers are both national and international. How would you suggest they go about finding a professional to help, if it appears their child has an eating disorder?

Start by asking your child’s pediatrician, your own doctor, or the school counselor for referrals. Try the web for counselors and psychologists in your area who treat children, and specialize in problems with food and weight. Your local crisis line as well as counseling agencies are often helpful.

For national and international resources, explore:

  • Psychology Today (psychologytoday.com
  • The American Psychological Association (apa.org) gives both national and international referrals
  • National Eating Disorders Association (nationaleatingdisorders.org)
  • International Eating Disorder Referral Organization (edreferral.com)
  • International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals (iaedp.com)
  • National and international hotline for eating disorders (somethingfishy.org)

Thank you Shoshana. Shoshana can be reached at Kobrinkreations@sbcglobal.net. And, check out her newest book, “The Satisfied Soul.”

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