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Avoid Giving Your Daughter an Eating Disorder

Studies show that moms with body image issues are more likely to have daughters with eating disorders. Avoid passing on your unhealthy hang-ups.


  • TIP: Point out examples of healthy, strong bodies that are also considered attractive.
  • Step 1: Be honest with your daughter if you have body issues that you are having trouble overcoming. Let her know that it's a problem and that you are working on it. Practice awareness and communication to break the cycle of poor body image issues.
  • FACT: A 2009 study found that girls as young as 5 years old are likely to try dieting if their mother has tried dieting.
  • Step 2: Make it clear that you don't agree with the perception that being attractive means being extremely thin, which is often perpetuated by magazines and television.
  • Step 3: Don't focus on appearances. If you're unhappy about your daughter's weight, refrain from passing judgment. Everyone's weight fluctuates due to stress, activity level, hormonal changes, and other factors, so let her go through this phase without undue attention.
  • Step 4: Practice self-acceptance where your body is concerned. Instead having your daughter hear you talk about how much you hate your hips, let her see you feeling comfortable and self-assured in just your skivvies.
  • Step 5: Let your daughter know other things you value and like about yourself, such as your generosity or sense of humor. True worth doesn't relate only to how you look.
  • Step 6: Have a healthy attitude toward food. Your kids watch what you eat, and beating yourself up for having a cookie will only teach them to do the same. Explain that food is for energy and sweets are OK in moderation.

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