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How to raise a body-positive kid

Raising a body-positive kid is a great idea for so many reasons, including lower risk of eating disorders and disordered eating. But perhaps the most important reason for raising a body-positive kid is that it means your child doesn’t hate their body. What could possibly be wrong with that?

Here are the five tips for raising a body-positive kid:

1. Teach them to ignore diet culture

Diet culture absolutely surrounds us. It begins with the belief that bodies can and should be controlled. Everywhere we go, we see and hear messages about controlling our bodies by controlling our intake (food) and output (exercise).

Even people who say they don’t believe in diets will still perpetuate diet culture by telling us that we need to eat less and move more to be healthy. Eat less/move more behavior will never change weight, because our bodies are finely-tuned to restriction and will drive us to consume more food if we begin restricting intake or increasing output (exercise). The body sees weight loss as dangerous famine conditions and will fight physically and mentally to regain lost weight plus a little extra to protect against the next famine.

body image for girls ebook

The only way to intentionally lose weight is to create and maintain a state of body starvation. Most of us are able to lose weight short-term by putting our bodies into a state of starvation using diet behaviors, but the unfortunate outcome is that we regain the weight and lower our metabolic rate in the process. In fact, the most common outcome of intentional weight loss is that we weigh more five years later (Journal of the American Dietetic Association).

But it’s OK! Because it turns out that it’s all right for our bodies if we don’t ever diet. As long as we learn to listen to our intuitive hunger cues and move our bodies in ways that feel good and sustainable, our bodies will do a great job of maintaining the weight they are meant to be.

Our “natural” weight without dieting may not be (and probably won’t be) the weight that we would *like* our bodies to be, but that is completely beside the point. Our bodies are not meant to be controlled or starved. They are meant to be respected, nourished and cared for.

Diet behavior is the most significant predictor of eating disorder development. Moderate dieting in adolescence leads to a 4x increase in eating disorders, and intense dieting during adolescence leads to an 18x increase in eating disorders (The BMJ). If we want to raise kids who don’t have eating disorders, we can begin by not allowing diet culture in our homes.

Read More: Stop Supporting Intentional Weight Loss! Here’s the Science to Support a Non-Diet, Weight-Neutral Approach

2. Teach them not to listen to the food police

We live in a time during which everyone believes they have something important and valuable to say about food.

  • In the supermarket, every package and sign will tell you what makes that particular food good and “healthy.”
  • In the check-out line, you’ll be exposed to magazine covers filled with messages about “superfoods” and “healthy” diets.
  • At work and at your family reunion, people will rave about the latest fad diets (celery juice! cleanses! detox! raw-vegan!).
  • At the doctor’s office they will ask you whether your child consumes “enough” servings of dairy and “limits” sugar.
  • At school, your child will be asked to write essays about the “dangers” of chocolate milk.
  • On Instagram, you’ll read about more of those fad diets and see plates artfully arranged with “healthy” foods and recommendations for transforming “bad” foods into “healthy” food (e.g. cauliflower pizza crust).

Everywhere we go, people are telling us what we should eat, what we should stop eating, what we should substitute, what we should ban. The food police is breathing down our necks. Most of us grew up hearing that fat was bad for us, but now there are promotions around “healthy fats” and diets based on fats-first. Today the undisputed evil is sugar, but it seems that nothing is off the table – there are diets that vilify almost everything under the sun, including fruits and vegetables!

Fear of food and cutting out entire food groups is a major symptom of eating disorders, and yet foodphobia is everywhere. Parents must work hard to overcome the societal messages that constantly tell our kids that they can’t trust their bodies and instead help our kids listen to their appetite and cravings.

Of course we want our kids to have good nutrition. That’s why we will offer them fruits, vegetables, and every other food group (including pizza, cookies, and tacos!) so that they learn to pay attention to their own bodies, not the dangerous messages that surround them in our culture.

Read More: Foodphobia: why are there so many people restricting entire food groups in the name of health, and what does it have to do with eating disorders?

Parenting for positive food and body

3. Teach them to take down body shamers

We live in a body-shaming society. Magazines, social media accounts, and television programs all revel in the opportunity to show before-and-after shots with the very obvious suggestion that being in a larger body is something that we must “overcome” in order to achieve a glowing “after” with a smaller body.

Body shaming is frighteningly common within families. Many people who have eating disorders report that their parents were their first body bullies, and the way they feel about their bodies is still impacted by things that their parents, grandparents, siblings, and other family members have said about them.

Body shame is a symptom of an eating disorder, and body shame doesn’t come from nowhere. A child is not born hating their body. They are taught that their bodies are something that does not deserve unconditional respect and acceptance. Unfortunately, we’ve learned this well. One study showed that 97% of U.S. women had at least one “I hate my body” thought every day (Glamour).

The first thing parents need to do is make sure that body shaming is absolutely and unequivocally shut down in the family home. There is no room for body shaming at the dinner table, in the living room, or anywhere else in a child’s home.

Next, parents need to shut down body shaming family members. Speak to your fatphobic family members and let them know that you take body shaming seriously and that you will interrupt and leave if body shaming takes place while your child is present. It’s not rude to do this, it’s just good parenting.

Next, parents need to teach their children polite but firm ways to shut down body shamers everywhere. Kids need to learn to shut down or, at the very least, ignore body shamers at home, in the family, with friends and peers, at school, and in the doctor’s office. Work with them to develop some good interruptions, redirects, and straight-forward shut-downs.

For example:

  • Interruption: let’s talk about something else.
  • Redirect: hey, how’s your new job going?
  • Shut-down: please don’t talk about my body.

Read More: Are you fat shaming your kids? You’ve got to stop!

4. Teach them not to worry about BMI

BMI is an outdated but unfortunately ubiquitous measurement tool that is being greatly overused and abused in medical and school settings. Every time your child goes to the doctor, they will be weighed, and there is a good chance they will be weighed at school, too.

A weight focus can be extremely harmful since people who have eating disorders are typically obsessed with their weight. But BMI takes weight and makes it even more harmful by creating firm categories of “healthy” and “unhealthy” weights.

BMI was developed for population studies and was never intended to be used on an individual basis. That’s because it completely ignores individual body composition and natural body diversity. In fact, most athletes, actors, and people who work out a lot have an “overweight” and even “obese” BMI due to their body composition.

The fact that doctors and P.E. teachers use BMI as a way to start conversations about health is extremely upsetting, because BMI does not indicate health in any way. In fact, you might just as well use shoe size as a starting point for a health conversation.

Tying health to BMI is harmful because only a very narrow portion of our population fits within the confines of “healthy.” The vast majority of us fall outside of “healthy” weight based on BMI.

Read More: Top 10 Reasons Why The BMI Is Bogus

5. Teach them to fight back against fatphobia

Fatphobia is everywhere in our society. It’s having a huge impact on our children. One study found that nearly 50% of 3-6 year old girls were worried about being fat, and about one third of them said they wanted to change something about their body (British Journal of Developmental Psychology).

Fatphobic messages come from everywhere. It’s impossible to live in our society and not internalize a fear of being fat. This fear of being fat is externalized to others in the form of shaming others for their weight and feeling justified for hating fat bodies.

When viewed through the lens of discrimination, there is simply no justification for fatphobia. We have learned so much in terms of fighting against racism and sexism, but hatred of fat is deeply ingrained and is the only form of discrimination that we do openly and without shame.

Being afraid of fat gain lies at the heart of most eating disorders, and our society does nothing to help us recover from internalized fatphobia. Most of us who have eating disorders are living in average or larger-sized bodies. Most of us never become medically underweight. This means that we are praised for weight loss when it happens and feel ashamed when we gain weight.

Parents who want to help their kids avoid eating disorders, body hatred, and disordered eating must teach their kids to be intolerant of fatphobia. This means speaking out every time a fatphobic comment is made, not spending time with friends and family members who are fatphobic, unfollowing social media accounts that are fatphobic, not watching shows and movies that are fatphobic, and supporting body diversity.

It will take time for our society to understand that fatphobia is just as toxic as all other forms of discrimination, but you can be proud to have your child(ren) at the front of the movement towards body peace and acceptance.


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.

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How to help someone you love who has a mental health condition like depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder

It can be incredibly difficult to watch a loved one who has a mental health condition like depression, anxiety, or an eating disorder. Mental health conditions make it hard for your loved one to experience life. No matter how much you love the person, your love alone will not help them recover. The person you love will probably need some professional help from a trained therapist. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help! We came up with a video to help parents understand some ways they can help kids who are struggling with mental health conditions.

When you love someone, it’s usually easy to have a good time together. But when someone you love has a mental health condition, it can be hard to figure out what to do.

It’s hard because, to you, the world is the same, but for the person who is hurting, nothing feels good anymore. You want to help, but you can’t figure out what to do. It’s easy to feel hurt by the person who is hurting. This is not fair at all. But you can help make things better.

Here is a metaphor to help explain how you can help.

The person you love is enjoying life and having a great time. There is a small puddle of sadness in her life, but it’s not a big deal. Then, one day, she falls into her puddle of sadness. Her puddle of sadness grows, and now she can’t get out.

A boat comes along to help her. She gets in the boat, and now she’s out of the water. But the puddle has grown into a lake, and the boat keeps her stuck in the middle.

You come along and see your loved one in the middle of the lake. You ask how you can help, but she can’t hear you. You realize that this situation is pretty bad.

But you are enthusiastic and optimistic. You try to jump in and carry her out of the lake. But this is her lake, and you can’t pull her out of it.

You feel confused and frustrated, but you keep trying. You bring her tools to paddle out of the lake, but she can’t reach them. You’re starting to panic a little, but you keep trying. You try more things, but nothing seems to help. You feel stuck and worried.

Then you talk to someone who gives you a good idea. You start to collect materials to build a small dock out into the lake. You build the dock out of patience, acceptance, understanding, empathy, and validation. Then you sit down on the end of the dock, put out your hand, and wait.

When she talks, you listen without trying to fix anything. You encourage her to talk about her feelings. And you stay there even when she can’t answer

When she feels ready, you stay right there. When she feels afraid, you validate her fears. You show her that you can tolerate her fear, and you are not going anywhere.

As she gets closer, you stay right there because you believe she can do this. And then, when she makes it onto the edge of the dock, you stay with her still. You give her empathy and acceptance.

The lake starts to shrink.

You stay there with her.

And then, one day, she feels better! The lake is back to being a little puddle, and she is outside of the puddle. Your support allowed her to find her own way out.

And now she is stronger than ever.


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.

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Stop hating fat people, being afraid of getting fat, talking about people being “too fat” and all forms of fatphobia

beautiful woman living in a larger body

We must look carefully at our society’s deep hatred of fat on a personal, societal and political level. We must question ourselves as a society when we openly and loudly criticize 70% of our population. In a society in which it is socially acceptable to ridicule and complain about people who live in larger bodies, our children are suffering from eating disorders at higher rates every year.

Eating disorders are more than fear of fat

Eating disorders have their roots deep in the psyche. They are typically built upon genetic, temperamental, experiential, societal and other factors. Often we see them in conjunction with Anxiety Disorder, Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

But before therapists can work on the deep underlying factors of an eating disorder, they often have to address fatphobia, the fear of getting and/or being fat and the belief that being fat is both a choice and a moral failing.

Most people who have eating disorders are afraid of fat

Many eating disorders begin in pursuit of the “perfect body.” With the media focus in the last decade on the “obesity epidemic,” fatphobia has become an acceptable form of discrimination against a significant portion of our population. Almost everyone feels they are justified in shaming people who live in larger bodies.

Headlines scream at us constantly:

  • The Growing Toll of our ever-expanding waistlines (New York Times)
  • Obesity epidemic at new high, costs $150B a year, hurts military recruiting (Washington Examiner)
  • As America’s waistline expands, costs soar (Reuters)
  • Nearly half of America’s overweight people don’t realize they’re overweight (Washington Post)

People think obesity is a personal failure

Obesity is frequently perceived as a preventable disease brought on by people who gorge themselves on fast food and candy and never exercise. Obesity is seen as something we must “eradicate” and “end forever,” even though, throughout history, and throughout the world, there have always been people who are in larger bodies.

Science has different things to say about obesity than the headlines suggest

Despite all the headlines and everything we believe we “know” about obesity as an “epidemic,” scientific research suggests that we know very little about the cause of rising human weight, or its direct link to disease and death.

  • People who are overweight or moderately obese live at least as long as lower-weight people, and often longer [1, 2, 3, 4].
  • Pooled data for over 350,000 subjects from 26 studies found overweight to be associated with greater longevity than normal weight [5].
  • Data on the elderly (among whom more than 70 percent of all deaths occur) found no evidence of excess mortality associated with being overweight [6].
  • When socioeconomic and other risk factors are controlled for, obesity is not a significant risk factor for mortality; and… for those 55 or older, both overweight and obesity confer a significantly decreased risk of mortality.” [7]

For more scientific research, visit our science library

Fatphobic headlines get more clicks

The media gains more click-throughs (which is directly linked to revenue income) when they publish articles with a fat bias. Moderate headlines and articles that present a nuanced look at fat do not garner as many clicks/revenue.

The media flagrantly appeals to our fear of fat and makes gross assumptions, extrapolations, and correlations about weight. Headlines are built to draw eyeballs and rarely reflect scientific data accurately.

swimsuit models over the years (1)
Even as our waistlines have expanded, the media’s presentation of what is “beautiful” has changed dramatically.

Images of thin, emaciated women and bulked-up, lean men get more clicks than those of people living with average or larger bodies.

When the media drives our perception, and the media is driven by clicks, we must acknowledge irresponsible behavior in relation to fat bias.

Obesity can be linked to the diet industry

The diet industry tells us that each individual is personally responsible for their body weight and has the ability to change it. But remember that the diet industry is a money-making machine that only survives if people continue to gain weight and repeatedly pursue weight loss.

“The first thing is that you can’t believe anything that [the diet industry says]. And that’s by definition because their job isn’t to tell you the truth — it’s to make money. And they’re allowed to lie,” says Traci Mann, Ph.D., author of Secrets from the Eating Lab, in an interview with the Washington Post.

In fact, for all of the yelling about sedentary lifestyles and fast food consumption, the greatest correlative factor for increased weight may be the size of the diet industry, which has ballooned from $10 billion in 1985 to almost $70 billion in 2012.

The diet industry growth

While the diet industry is seven times larger than it was in 1985, our BMI has increased from 129.9 in 1960 to 152.1 in 2010 (17%). And eating disorders have steadily increased – in both women and men – at the same time.

Hmmm … let’s think about that.

There is no proven cause of obesity

It may surprise you to know this, but even though we all assume that obesity is driven by eating too much and exercising too little, there is no evidence for those factors as being the cause of weight gain.

  • People who have higher BMIs do not eat more calories than people who have average* BMIs.
  • People who have higher BMIs do not exercise less than people who have average* BMIs.

*Given that 70% of the population is “above average” BMI, the word “average” is not actually accurate. BMI is actually a bogus measurement. It was never intended to be used on an individual level.

There is no proven cure for obesity

Even if we did agree with the idea that obesity is the worst thing ever, we do not have a cure for obesity. In 95% of cases, people who have lost weight on a diet have regained the weight plus more within two years (UCLA).

Diets are not a cure for obesity, and they have tremendous potential to cause harm. With no proven “cause” or “cure” for obesity, the vitriol our society places on people who are living in larger bodies is irresponsible and cruel. 

This is known as discrimination

The most common openly acknowledged and casually repeated discrimination most people engage in is fatphobia. People who live in larger bodies are openly accused of overeating, not exercising, being morally suspect, intellectually inferior, physically disgusting, and taking money out of our pockets.

But it goes beyond casual ridicule. Weight bias, stigma, and discrimination are correlated with poor medical care and lower income.

There is a word for this: discrimination.

How fatphobia leads to eating disorders

This agreement to vilify the majority of citizens in our society leads parents to inadvertently hurt their children in a desperate attempt to save them from being “overweight.”

Parents put their children on diets, both openly and surreptitiously. If they accept their child’s “high” body weight, they are attacked in articles like this one: Parents’ Denial Fuels Childhood Obesity Epidemic (New York Times).

The pressure for parents to control their children’s weight is high, and it negatively impacts a child’s self-perception.

And this is how fatphobia feeds the development of eating disorders. The hatred of one’s body is virtually unrecognizable from the hatred of one’s self. And when we hate ourselves, we turn our hatred on our bodies and starve them. Food restriction is the core behavior at the heart of anorexia, binge eating disorder, and bulimia.

Eating disorders are about much more than weight, but we cannot ignore fatphobia as a significant contributing factor in their development. It is at our peril that parents ignore society’s hatred of fat, and we must curb our instinct to judge and ridicule people who live in larger bodies.


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.

Two_Whole_Cakes_C

We recommend the book Two Whole Cakes, by Lesley Kinzel. It is a short and easy read that quickly and without apology explains what it’s like to live in a larger body in our society. The best part is that it’s written from a place of power, not victimhood. Kinzel writes about the political, financial, emotional, and spiritual struggles resulting from America’s obsession with weight.

Also consider reviewing: Weight Science: Evaluating the Evidence for a Paradigm Shift, by Linda Bacon and Lucy Aphramor, Nutrition Journal, 2011

References

[1] Flegal KM, Graubard BI, Williamson DF, Gail MH: Excess deaths associated with underweight, overweight, and obesity. JAMA. 2005, 293: 1861-1867. 10.1001/jama.293.15.1861.

[2] Durazo-Arvizu R, McGee D, Cooper R, Liao Y, Luke A: Mortality and optimal body mass index in a sample of the US population. Am J Epidemiol. 1998, 147: 739-749.

[3] Troiano R, Frongillo E, Sobal J, Levitsky D: The relationship between body weight and mortality: A quantitative analysis of combined information from existing studies. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1996, 20: 63-75.

[4] Flegal K, Graubard B, Williamson D, Gail M: Supplement: Response to “Can Fat Be Fit”. Sci Am. 2008, 297: 5-6.

[5] McGee DL: Body mass index and mortality: a meta-analysis based on person-level data from twenty-six observational studies. Ann Epidemiol. 2005, 15: 87-97. 10.1016/j.annepidem.2004.05.012.

[6] Janssen I, Mark AE: Elevated body mass index and mortality risk in the elderly. Obes Rev. 2007, 8: 41-59. 10.1111/j.1467-789X.2006.00248.x.

[7] Lantz PM, Golberstein E, House JS, Morenoff J: Socioeconomic and behavioral risk factors for mortality in a national 19-year prospective study of U.S. adults. Soc Sci Med. 2010, 70: 1558-1566. 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.02.003.

[8] Berrington de Gonzalez A, Hartge P, Cerhan JR, Flint AJ, Hannan L, MacInnis RJ, Moore SC, Tobias GS, Anton-Culver H, Freeman LB, et al: Body-mass index and mortality among 1.46 million white adults. N Engl J Med. 2010, 363: 2211-2219. 10.1056/NEJMoa1000367.

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Eating disorders are more than anorexia: eating disorder statistics that every parent should know

When we focus on anorexia as the only eating disorder we fail to recognize that they impact people of all sizes, races and genders

When you picture someone who has an eating disorder, you probably think of someone who is dangerously underweight. But, in fact, the majority of eating disorders occur in people of “normal” or “overweight” body sizes. The classic portrayal of a drastically underweight white female who has anorexia represents a very small fraction of eating disorders.

Why does this matter? Well, when we assume that eating disorders always result in underweight, we fail to notice the millions of people who never become underweight from a BMI standpoint and yet are suffering greatly from an eating disorder. As parents, we need to know that even if our children are in a healthy BMI range, they still may be suffering from an eating disorder.

Here are some statistics about anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder:

U.S. Population: 323 million

National surveys estimate that 6.1% of women (20,000,000) and 3% of men (10,000,000) in America will have an eating disorder at some point in their lives.

30,000,000 Americans have experienced an eating disorder during their lifetime.

Almost 10% of all Americans have experienced an eating disorder.

anorexia
Anorexia Nervosa: 4.5 million

0.9% (.009) of women (2,907,000) and 0.3% (.003) of men (1,453,500) experiences anorexia during their life.

4,460,000 Americans have experienced anorexia during their lifetime.

Anorexia comprises 14.5% of all eating disorders.

bulimia (1)
Bulimia Nervosa: 6.5 million

1.5% (.015) of women (4,845,000) and 0.5% (.05) of men (1,615,000) experiences bulimia during their life.

6,460,000 Americans have experienced bulimia during their lifetime.

Bulimia comprises 21.5% of all eating disorders.

binge eating disorder (1)
Binge Eating Disorder

3.5% (.035) of women (11,305,000) and 2.0% (.02) of men (6,460,000) experiences binge eating disorder during their life.

17,765,000 Americans have experienced binge eating disorder during their lifetime.

Binge eating disorder comprises 59% of all eating disorders.

There is incredible diversity in the eating disorder community, and it’s important for parents, healthcare providers and others to recognize that we come in many shapes, sizes, colors and genders.


Source: National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)

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10 facts about Instagram and body image in girls

Instagram and body image in girls

It’s fun to scroll through Instagram, but it can have a negative impact on body image in girls. Instagram is not inherently bad, but research suggests that people who use Instagram – particularly young women – need to be cautious about managing what they see on their feeds.

Curated feeds and sexy poses

The greatest danger for young women on Instagram is images of other women. These images are typically highly curated, Photoshopped or otherwise edited, and staged.

Furthermore, Instagram provides a platform that directly rewards women for posting sexy poses that focus on the body’s shape. This leads to something called “self-objectification,” a dangerous condition linked to eating disorders. We created a video showing how this works:

“Body image disturbance is one of the most common clinical features attributed to eating disorders.” (Eating Disorder Hope)

Instagram use has been directly correlated with poor body image in young women. Monitoring social media use may be very helpful in preventing and reducing the impact of eating disorders. This is why we believe it is critical for parents to talk to their daughters about the dangers of Instagram.

Parenting for positive food and body

10 facts about Instagram and body image in girls

Here are 10 facts about Instagram and its impact on young women’s body image and therefore potential for disordered eating:

1. Instagram ranked the worst app for mental health and body image, especially for young women. [1]

2. Instagram encourages young women to compare themselves against unrealistic versions of reality [2]

3. Instagram makes it easy for girls and women to feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as they ar.e [2]

4. Young women who spend more than 2 hours on Instagram and other social networking sites report poor mental health. [2]

5. As little as 30 minutes per day on Instagram can make women fixate negatively on their weight and appearance. [3]

6. The more frequently that young women look at #fitspo images, the unhappier they felt about their own bodies. [3]

7. Looking at fitness influencers and models on Instagram has a negative influence on self-esteem, which could predict eating disorders. [4]

8. Women are less satisfied with their bodies after looking at #fitspo images compared to travel images on Instagram. [4]

9. When a teenager’s post gets a lot of “likes” on Instagram, her brain responds in a similar way to seeing loved ones or winning money. [5]

10. When young women make social media comparisons, they report being more likely to start unhealthy weight-loss activities. [3]

body image for girls ebook

What parents can do to help

Parents can help reduce the impact of Instagram on girls’ body image by doing the following:

Time

Keep an eye on how much time your child spends on Instagram. Try to keep total social media time to an hour or less per day. Your child will grumble, but it’s important to stand strong. Every half hour spent on Instagram can decrease body satisfaction.

Content

Monitor who your child follows on Instagram. Talk about the content you see. Are women being treated as objects? Have they been airbrushed, filtered, and perfected? Are all women very thin with shapely breasts and butts? Encourage your child to follow people who don’t make her feel bad about herself.

Be especially aware of #fitspo accounts that promote weight loss methods and “healthy lifestyles.” These are often diets in disguise, and they can be very damaging. Obsession with weight and food are both symptoms of disordered eating. And eating disorders related to following social media influencers are on the rise.

Posts

Talk to your daughter about what she’s posting on social media. Is her content highly curated and heavily filtered? Is she posting photos of herself in sexy, pouty poses? Does she post photos that expose her body in ways that make you uncomfortable?

It’s OK to talk to her about what is and is not acceptable to you. You don’t need to be draconian or a sexist about this. It’s not about her “tempting pedophiles,” it’s about learning healthy boundaries in a society that objectifies women.

Feelings

Pay attention to how your daughter behaves after consuming social media. Does she seem upset? Maybe she spends more time looking in the mirror. Talk to your daughter about how she feels. Let her know that a lot of people notice that they feel bad about themselves after going through their feed. This is a natural response to seeing a false world in which perfection rules.

It’s very common for people to clean out their Instagram accounts of anyone they follow who doesn’t make them feel good. If someone doesn’t make your daughter feel good about herself, they don’t belong in her feed!

This is serious parenting

Putting limits on a girl’s social media is not for the faint of heart. This is serious parenting. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself confused, tripped up, and frustrated when you’re trying to set boundaries on social media. Social media can be fun, but it needs boundaries to be safe. Stay strong!

Consider reading the book Getting to Yes for help with negotiating difficult conversations with your child.


Ginny Jones is the editor of More-Love.org. She writes about parenting, body image, disordered eating, and eating disorders.


References

[1] CNN: Instagram worst social media app for young people’s mental health

[2] Royal Society for Public Health: Social media and young people’s mental health and wellbeing

[3] Macquarie University: Impact of Instagram use in young women

[4] New Media & Society journal: Instagram use and young women’s body image concerns and self-objectification

[5] UCLA Brain Mapping Center 

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The fear parade: a simple mindfulness trick to help kids manage anxiety and stress

Anxiety is a common co-occurring condition with eating disorders, and both anxiety and eating disorders are on the rise for our kids. It’s important that we learn some tools to help them manage their anxiety so that they can avoid triggering eating disorder behavior.

The reasons our kids are more anxious are real and pervasive. Our kids today are facing more pressure to achieve academic success from an early age. While many of us didn’t start worrying about college admission until high school, our kids often worry about college beginning in middle school or even earlier. The pressure to perform is constant, and even if we manage to avoid adding pressure at home, there is plenty to go around at school.

In the midst of this increased academic pressure, we also expect our kids to compete in their sports and participate in enrichment activities like chess, piano and computer coding. And then there are the expectations to volunteer, give back, and participate in society in a meaningful way, which supposedly “looks great on college applications.”

Meanwhile, our kids’ social structures are completely different from how we experienced them. The advent of smartphones, which have completely transformed socialization, is impacting the current generation in ways we cannot fully grasp. Social media, texting and other offline interactions have replaced hanging around together in the same room or talking on the phone. We have no idea how this change in socialization will impact our kids, but initial signs are not great.

So, there is a lot of reason for anxiety, and our kids are suffering as a result. Mindfulness – the ability to step aside and separate the “self” from feelings of fear – can help our kids manage this tremendous stress, and simultaneously reduce symptoms of anxiety and eating disorder behavior.

We came up with a short video about one trick we like to use, called the Fear Parade. Check it out!

The Fear Parade (Mindfulness in Action)

There you are, just minding your own business … when suddenly you remember that you have a test tomorrow, and you haven’t studied! And that’s when the fear feelings start circling. They say terrible things like:

  • You’re going to fail!
  • How could you do this to me?
  • You’re so stupid!
  • You’re going to die!
  • This is the worst thing ever!
  • This is the end!
  • It’s all over.

Suddenly, it’s not just the test tomorrow, it’s everything. Your feelings turn into gigantic monsters and they take over your mind. They start in your head, but within a fraction of a second, they change your

  • Heartbeat
  • Breathing
  • Eyes
  • Muscles

And Adrenaline pumps all through your body, shutting down rational thought. It is impossible to think rationally during the fear response. When this happens, it feels like there is nowhere you can go. You feel trapped.

Mindfulness can help. Here’s how it works. The first thing you must do is realize that you are in a fear-state. Take a step back, and notice that you are being overwhelmed by fear.

Now, take a look at the fear monsters in your head. They are trying to talk, but they are tripping all over themselves. Tell the feelings you’re willing to listen, but they have to behave. Ask them to line up. Now, that’s better.

Let’s have a fear parade, with a float full of feelings that you can watch as they pass. The fear feelings can all jump on the float so you can see them. The float can pass in front of you, and you can watch it go by, but you know that you are separate from the feelings. Your feelings are real, but they aren’t always the truth.

As you watch the parade, your fear feelings are still there, but you notice that they seem smaller. Your body starts to relax, as you see the fear feelings getting smaller and smaller. And, suddenly, you notice that your body is calmer.

Without the fear shutting down your brain, you can think clearly again. Now you can start taking action based on what you learned from the fear. In other words, start studying!


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.

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What is a maladaptive coping behavior?

maladaptive coping mechanisms are used to keep dangerous feelings from damaging our sense of self. They become destructive when overused such as in eating disorders and addiction

A maladaptive coping behavior is a behavior that we utilize to soothe ourselves when we feel anxious. Mildly avoidant coping behaviors may look like frequently avoiding using the elevator because you feel a bit anxious in elevators and stairs are easily accessible.

But sometimes coping behaviors can overwhelm our ability to live a “normal” life. For example, a fear of elevators may mean refusing to ever ride in an elevator, spending excessive energy and time researching stair access in buildings, using the stairs even when it adds significant hardship, and refusing to go places that don’t have reasonable stair access (e.g. an office on Floor 10 or above). At this point, when a coping behavior interferes with normal life, it may be called “maladaptive.”

Maladaptive coping behaviors are a response to anxiety

Maladaptive coping behaviors usually start small, such as avoiding the elevator when it’s convenient. But they can also grow over time and take over our lives. This is because the problem is rooted in anxiety. Anxiety impacts us both psychologically and physically. Some symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Racing thoughts
  • Uncontrollable fear
  • Rage
  • Asking the same question over and over again
  • Wanting to run away
  • Extreme chest pain
  • Crying or screaming
  • Jittering or shaking
  • Nausea or heartburn
  • Fainting or physically shutting down

Obviously, when we feel these awful symptoms of anxiety, we want them to stop. We need them to go away! So we reach for coping behaviors to feel better. Coping mechanisms can be mild or severe. They typically make us feel better temporarily, but only one will help us feel better in the long run.

Maladaptive coping behaviors help in the short term but hurt in the long term. They may have physical, emotional, and social side effects that are even worse than the anxiety itself. They also tend to make anxiety get worse over time. Healthy coping behaviors will help in the short- and long-term, and they reduce anxiety over time.

Common maladaptive coping behaviors include:

Anxiety disorders are common, and thus maladaptive coping behaviors are also fairly common. Some maladaptive coping behaviors include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Shoplifting/Kleptomania
  • Overspending/Shopping addiction
  • Promiscuous sex/Sex addiction
  • Substance abuse/Alcohol abuse
  • Self-harm
  • Compulsive lying

It is very common for a person to develop more than one maladaptive coping behavior or mechanism. Another thing that often happens is we will overcome one maladaptive coping behavior only to replace it with a different one. For example, someone who had an eating disorder may develop a substance abuse problem.

What’s the reason for maladaptive coping behaviors?

At their core, maladaptive coping behaviors are attempting to help us. They seem like a great idea because they immediately seem to solve a distressing emotional state.

Here are some examples of people using maladaptive coping behaviors:

  • Jane feels stressed and unloved when she visits with family. After family events, phone calls, and even emails she shops compulsively and has racked up thousands of dollars in credit card debt.
  • Michael divorced his partner and feels lonely. Every night he comes home to an empty house and eats bags of potato chips and cartons of ice cream, then gets a stomachache and feels ashamed of himself for having no control.
  • Sarah suffered sexual trauma as a child and now has PTSD. Several nights each week she finds herself at bars picking up on strangers and sleeping with them. She wishes she wouldn’t do this, and doesn’t understand why it keeps happening.
  • Jamal’s parents were both incarcerated and used substances heavily. He always swore that he wouldn’t get mixed up in that and became a successful lawyer with a family. But he has fallen into the habit of drinking a bottle of wine every night, sometimes more.

Maladaptive coping behaviors are rarely something that we “pick” or decide to do. They typically arise from our subconscious and feel compulsive and instinctual. They usually feel like the only option to living life with anxiety.

When a behavior becomes maladaptive

Most people can relate to at least one of the coping behaviors we listed. That’s because everyone uses coping behaviors, and they aren’t always maladaptive. For example, most people have used shopping, alcohol, food, and other maladaptive coping behaviors occasionally to cope with stress.

It’s important to recognize the difference between using something occasionally and feeling better and using something compulsively. A person who is stuck in a maladaptive coping behavior may notice that they feel:

  1. Compelled to use the behavior even if they don’t want to
  2. Ashamed of themselves for using the behavior
  3. Notice that they need the behavior more often and/or need a higher dose over time

These three elements can signal that someone is becoming dependent on a maladaptive coping behavior.

How can we stop maladaptive coping behaviors?

The most important thing to recognize when dealing with maladaptive coping mechanisms is that they are there to help. While they may look obviously destructive to other people, the person who is using them feels soothed and better when using the behavior.

This is why saying that someone needs to stop the maladaptive coping behavior “cold turkey” can backfire. Unless we replace the maladaptive coping behavior with healthy coping behaviors, we can cause more harm than good.

If we want a child or someone we love to stop using maladaptive coping behaviors like eating disorders, we need to help them uncover the stress they are trying to cope with. Then we need to help them build healthy coping behaviors so they can replace one with the other.

If we try to rip the maladaptive coping behavior away without recognizing the purpose the behavior is serving, we risk driving it underground or morphing into another form because we have not actually addressed the core problem.

Healthy coping behaviors include:

  • Self-compassion
  • Mindful meditation
  • Exercise or movement
  • Pursuing passions, hobbies, and crafts
  • Processing feelings mindfully, not automatically
  • Actively seeking care and attention from loved ones
  • Developing some distraction “tricks” to get through an anxious state, such as making a list of fruits and vegetables, naming all of the car manufacturers, or seeking a specific color in the environment.
  • Reaching out to a friend or family member for help
  • Getting professional therapy, counseling, or coaching
  • Participating in and feeling as if you belong to a community

We created this short video to illustrate maladaptive coping mechanisms.

How we feel feelings

When we are in a normal state, various feelings circulate in and out of our minds rapidly. However, when we have depression or anxiety, our feelings begin to get stuck in our orbit. Then, negative feelings become larger, while positive feelings become smaller.

At this point, some of us engage maladaptive coping mechanisms in an attempt to protect ourselves from these negative emotions. Unfortunately, when we use these coping mechanisms, we minimize and keep out positive emotions even more than before.

Feeling better in the short-term

Maladaptive coping mechanisms are behaviors that make us feel better in the short term, but in the long-term, they are very harmful. They include eating disorders, self-harm, alcohol & substance abuse, sexual promiscuity, shoplifting, risk-taking behavior and compulsive lying.

Once we become dependent on our maladaptive coping mechanisms, we become emotionally weaker, and even less able to withstand negative emotions. But our maladaptive coping mechanisms convince us that they are the solution to our pain.

Even as our maladaptive coping mechanisms bring us to our knees, we are unable to see how they are perpetuating the pain we are trying to avoid.

Adaptive coping mechanisms

Adaptive, or healthy coping mechanisms, are skills that we must learn in order to overcome our maladaptive coping mechanisms. If we try to stop our maladaptive behavior without learning healthy skills, we are unlikely to succeed. Healthy coping skills include learning to process emotions, learning to care for ourselves, and being assertive about our needs.

As we slowly learn these skills, we gain strength against the maladaptive coping behavior, slowly integrating our new tools for managing negative emotions. As we do this, positive feelings become more present in our lives. Over time, our feelings begin to circulate again. Even as this happens, and even as we begin to feel positive emotions again, we must be vigilant about practicing our healthy skills to ensure we can make a full transition and become truly recovered.

Recovery from maladaptive coping behaviors

People can and do recover from maladaptive coping behaviors like eating disorders. The key is to learn to “urge surf” or allow the urge to arise but respond with adaptive coping mechanisms.

Recovery means that we can live in the world and experience a broad variety of positive and negative emotions. We no longer need to rely on our maladaptive coping behavior to feel safe and secure.


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.

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We would like to live in a world in which kids never, ever diet. Will you join us?

Dieting is so deeply ingrained in our culture that we have failed to notice three vital facts: 1) diets have been proven ineffective at sustained weight loss; 2) diets typically lead to weight gain; 3) diets often lead to disordered eating.

The reason diets are so ingrained in our culture is that the weight stigma, driven and nurtured by the $65 billion diet industry. Weight stigma tells us that we can and should lose weight. It tells us that people who are in larger bodies are less worthy, lazy, and responsible for their high body weight.

The diet industry spends billions of dollars in direct advertising campaigns and funds research to “prove” their claims. But no long-term, large-scale scientific research proves that intentional weight loss is effective. About 95% of people who intentionally lose weight regain the weight in 2-5 years, often plus more. They also have a slowed metabolism and any health gains observed during weight loss are eliminated.

If you have a child who has an eating disorder, think back. Do you remember how it started? There’s a good chance that your child started their eating disorder with a diet, often cloaked in the term “healthy lifestyle.” They started restricting calories and cut out food groups, and probably started exercising in pursuit of “health.” But where did that pursuit get them? It got them sick.

We would like to live in a world in which no children ever diet. Ever. We believe this will help reduce the rising rates of both obesity and eating disorders. Will you join us? Please check out this video we created to provide you with some more information about the dangers of dieting.

Our average BMI has steadily grown ...

Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.

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Eating Disorders: a guide for parents who have a child with an eating disorder

If you have a child who has an eating disorder, your world has likely been turned upside down by the diagnosis. We have created this video to help you figure out how to move forward.

1. Get informed

Eating disorders are complex, and they are misunderstood. Eating disorders are very serious, but full recovery is entirely possible, and you can help! Find out what eating disorders are, and what they are not.

2. Build a team

Eating disorders require professional care and treatment. You wouldn’t hire a vet to treat your child if she or he had diabetes – don’t hire a non-specialist to treat your child’s eating disorder. At a minimum, your child should receive psychotherapy and nutritional counseling. She or he may also need hospitalization, inpatient and/or outpatient care. Studies have shown that family therapy and education can have a big impact on healing.

3. Make some rules

An eating disorder is not as simple as food and weight, but because the disorder is based on behaviors tied to food and weight, your whole family will need to make some adjustments in how they treat weight, food and body size. You’ll also want to learn some emotional hygiene, which includes learning how to talk about feelings in a healthy way.

There is help available. Please let us know if there is anything in particular we can do to help you through this time!


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.

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Rethinking eating disorders as misguided life savers trying to help us, not beasts trying to attack us

Eating disorders don't have to be evil. Sometimes we can see them as lifesavers. Once we learn to swim, we can let them go.

It’s completely normal for a parent to view an eating disorder in their child as a terrible beast that must be overcome. We gather our weapons and seek to control the eating disorder and drive it from our child’s body. “Just fix it!” we tell the professionals who are trying to help our child. “Just make it go away!”

But there are alternative approaches to fighting. As surprising as it may seem, there is also the option to understand the eating disorder’s purpose and teach your child new skills for managing life without using food or restriction.

With the proper professional guidance and loving parental support, an eating disorder can be reimagined. Check out this original video we created to illustrate this concept.

The River Story

It’s quite normal when you find out that your child has an eating disorder to want to wage battle against the evil monster that has taken over. But that might not be the best approach. Here is an alternative way of thinking, using a metaphorical story, from Dr. Anita Johnston.

Imagine that your child is standing on the edge of a fast-flowing river. Suddenly, she has fallen in! She’s drowning! A log passes her by, and she grabs on. The log saves her life.

But she realizes that now the log is between her and where she wants to go. As long as she holds on to the log, she can’t get to shore. The people who love her call out from the shore, telling her to “just let go!” But when she lets go, she is not strong enough to cross the river, and she begins to drown again.

Terrified, she grabs hold of the log again. She wants to let go, but she’s not ready yet. She starts thinking about how she can get strong enough to make it to shore. She can see her loved ones there, waiting for her.

Slowly, she starts practicing letting go of the log. She sees the people who love her encouraging her slow, steady practice. As she gains confidence and skills, she begins letting go of the log. And then, she is able to let it go, and she is able to make it to shore safely, all by herself.

Once there, her loved ones realize that the log wasn’t an evil monster – it kept her safe when she didn’t know what else to do. But now she has the skills she needs to swim without the log.


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.


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This metaphor of the life-saving log is just one of many thoughtful stories presented in Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling. If you enjoyed this video, please read the book!

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Volunteering with your child may help with anxiety, depression, and eating disorder behaviors

If you live with a teenager, then you have probably noticed that it can be very challenging to connect with her or him. While it might have been easy to find things to do together when she was younger, as she grows up, it can be harder and harder to find common interests. But connection is more important than ever as she heals from her disorder.

Volunteering for a cause that she believes is important may be a great way to connect with a teen healing from an eating disorder like bulimia, binge eating disorder or anorexia.

Volunteering together puts you in neutral territory and takes the focus away from your relational dynamics at home, the work your family is doing in therapy, and her own body and mind. Simply getting away together, without the pressures of everyday life, and broadening both of your perspectives, may be very healing for both of you.

Here is a video we have about one child’s experience volunteering with horses:

Here are some of the benefits of volunteering:

Increase Connection

Volunteering is a great way to build connection with the community and with each other. Almost all volunteering opportunities provide a way for your teen to meet people outside of your typical socio/economic group. While your social circle, and that of your teen, is likely somewhat homogenous, volunteering provides an opportunity to see many different types of people working together for a common goal. It also helps your teen see you interact with different types of people. In the right environment, your teen may even learn to respect the skills and talents you have that drive her crazy at home when she sees them exhibited in a volunteer community.

Increase Happiness

Several scientific studies have linked volunteering to increased happiness. Scientists have even measured hormones and brain activity and noted that being helpful delivers immense pleasure. There is also the gratitude effect – we naturally learn to see the world through more grateful eyes when we volunteer. Of course, decreased loneliness and increased sense of community have also both been shown to increase happiness. Whatever the reason, if volunteering can increase your child’s happiness level, that’s a good thing!

Reduce stress, anxiety, and depression

Volunteering has been shown to have a profound impact on people’s overall psychological well-being. Stress and anxiety can dissipate when working alongside others towards a common goal. Working with animals has specifically been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Meanwhile, depression may decrease as you build connections with others and develop a support system.

Increase Self-Confidence

Your teen may act as if she knows everything, but there is a very good chance that she is hiding a lot of self-doubt about herself. When in her eating disorder, she has distorted views of the world and about herself that are harmful. Volunteering increases self-confidence and allows her to put her energy into something other than her body. Her role as a volunteer can give her a sense of pride and identity beyond her body. Volunteering also provides a strong sense of purpose, which has been shown to positively impact mood and mental health.

Here is a video some young volunteers made about their  work with rescue horses:

Some causes may be a better fit than others. For example, food-based volunteering opportunities may not be a great idea if your child is triggered by food. Volunteering with animals may be soothing in some environments, but distressing in others. Work with your child to identify a cause that is meaningful to him or her, and then work with his or her treatment team to ensure the fit is appropriate. A good resource for finding volunteering opportunities is VolunteerMatch.org.


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.

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How to talk to your teenager about Photoshop, the media, and how it impacts body image

Many people who have eating disorders have a distorted view of themselves, along with a negative body image. There is a condition called body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), which is common among those suffering from eating disorders. According to the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation, the most common age at which BDD begins is 13, and it occurs in both boys and girls.

BDD is not a simple response to the media, however, the media may be a good way to begin conversations with your teenagers about how they perceive their bodies and other people’s bodies. Talking about this is not a cure or a substitute for professional treatment, but it may help parents open some doors into their teenagers’ minds.

We created this video to share some ideas about how you might start this conversation.

Every day, our kids walk around seeing images of perfect people. Of course, those people aren’t really perfect – they have been digitally enhanced to appear like they are. But even though we know all about Photoshop, our brains still retain the perfect version. And so our teenagers walk around with Photoshopped images of perfection in their heads.

The weird thing, though, is that when they look at themselves in the mirror, they do the opposite of Photoshop to themselves. Suddenly girls look fatter and shorter, more pimply and too hairy. Their hair is too thick or too thin, too blonde or too brown. Nothing is right. Boys see themselves as too skinny, too short, not muscular enough, too pimply … and on and on.

When parents hear their kids say mean things about themselves, they want to make their child feel better, so they say things like “you’re beautiful!” and “you don’t know what you’re talking about.

The problem with these well-intentioned comments is that teenagers have a seriously strong bullshit-meter, and they think you are very, very stupid, for thinking they are beautiful when they can see very clearly that their image does not reflect what they believe is beautiful.

Before you can change their beliefs about themselves, you need to talk to your teenagers about the use of Photoshop everywhere. But … for goodness sake … Don’t lecture! The bullshit meter hates lectures! Like a wild animal, you need to be careful when entering the teenage habitat.

You can use media that she already knows and trust – like YouTube – to connect with her on this topic. You need to let your teen take the lead here – so if you say anything, say something positive. Let your child do the talking – let her say what she thinks about the manipulation of normal people into flawless perfection.

Encourage her to educate you. Let her inform you about how fake those perfect images are. When you let your child take control, and allow her to be the expert, she will begin to change her own mind. And that’s the key to teenagers … allow them to find their own way. Nobody wants to be manipulated, least of all, your teenager. Let her discover and get angry for herself, and she will learn much faster.

Escaping a negative or grossly inaccurate body image is a struggle for people of all ages today. But by helping your child develop her own opinions about what it means to be beautiful, and by exploring the world through her eyes, you can help her avoid the very worst of the problem.

And maybe, one day, your sweet baby will look in the mirror and see herself exactly as she is on the outside. And maybe, one day, she will even love what she sees.


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.


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The Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation is a charity is dedicated to the relief of suffering from BDD. It aims to advance education and understanding of BDD. It supports research into BDD and its treatments. Whilst we are based in the UK, our reach is international and we are proud to be the only charity for BDD in the world. Website

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A selection of relaxation videos for teens who have anxiety that increases their eating disorder behavior

Many people who have eating disorders also struggle with stress and anxiety, so we thought it would be cool to gather some relaxing videos that you may watch with your child when he or she is feeling anxious. Often anxiety increases eating disorder behavior, so reducing it can be very helpful.

Some people find it helpful to have a library of different relaxation techniques to help in different situations. For example, when your child is in the safety of your home, she might enjoy doing some yoga or journaling. However, if travel is stressful, she’s not going to want to roll out her yoga mat in the middle of the airport. Instead, having a few videos on a smartphone may be a great way to zone out and relax.

First, we thought this ocean meditation was pretty cool, but it might miss the mark for some teenagers … it may feel a little bit cheesy, though the message is powerful.

In the completely opposite direction, we found this really cool compilation of satisfying videos on YouTube, and it might be a really fun way to zone out, especially if there are a lot of distractions or your child is worried about other people noticing what he or she is watching. Note: there are some food images in this video, but no eating.

Then we discovered that there is a huge genre of relaxation videos on YouTube designed to relax cats! WTF! Pretty awesome! Here is a 3-hour relaxation video of an aquarium that put us to sleep in a hot second! We know that your child is not a cat, but this is worth watching!

Remember, your teenager likely needs lots of different options for when she or he is feeling stressed. Some days might be perfect for the aquarium, and other days it might not work at all. Keep trying different relaxation techniques to help your child RELAX.


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.

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Tapping into “The Why” of eating to help your child heal from an eating disorder

We have always loved Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle,” in which companies and organizations learn to focus on WHY they are doing something instead of WHAT and HOW they are doing it.

In this video, we use the concept of the Golden Circle, and to suggest you tap into your child’s WHY for eating in a healthy, balanced, non-disordered way, to help you guide her towards healing from her eating disorder.

Simon Sinek’s first TEDx talk from 2009 is now the 3rd most watched TED talk of all time, sitting at well over 25 million views. You can watch it here.

His talk presented a very simple truth – that many of the world’s most inspirational leaders have focused on WHY they do something, while the rest of the average leaders focus on WHAT they do or HOW they do it. When we tap into WHY we do something, we ourselves are intrinsically motivated by a deep sense of passion, rather than we are being forced to do something because that’s just how things work.

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If you have a child who has an eating disorder like anorexia, bulimia or binge eating disorder, she is facing some strongly incorrect messages in her head. You can work with many types of professionals in treating the eating disorder, but as a parent, you also have an opportunity to support recovery. One way to do that is to help your child identify why she wants to recover from the eating disorder.

Remember that teenagers are independent, unique people who hate to be told WHAT to do or HOW to do it. They will also resist being told WHY they should do anything, mainly because parents are usually out of touch with why teenagers do anything.

Nonetheless, every child has her own sense of purpose and a developing value system, and if you can help her find her own WHY, you can get further along the path to health and wellness.


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.

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What To Do Together: Watch this video about Photoshop and Beauty

If you have a daughter or a son with an eating disorder, they are likely struggling to understand the media presentation of the “ideal human” and match it up with their experience of themselves.

Next time you’re sitting around together on separate devices, take a moment to connect with her, and watch this video together. This is a great way to open the discussion about her perceived imperfections and talk about what it feels like to be a teenager living in today’s image-conscious world.

For Girls

BuzzFeed Video asked four women to participate in a Photoshop experiment. Their reactions to the results are a surprise to many. How does your daughter feel about this video? What do you agree about? What do you disagree about? Remember to honor her opinions as much as you honor your own. The idea here is to understand, not to convince.

For Boys

How does your son feel about this video? What do you agree about? What do you disagree about? Remember to honor his opinions as much as you honor your own. The idea here is to discuss, not to convince.


Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating issues, body shame and eating disorders.

She’s the founder of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents navigate disordered eating, eating disorder recovery, and other challenging emotional and behavioral issues.