She started dieting and exercising extensively.

Question: My 14 year old daughter who has struggled with fluctuating weight since she was 9, put on a few kilos during the school break. She was worried her friends would notice and turn it into a big deal, so she started dieting and exercising extensively just prior to starting back at school. I have endeavoured to educate my children to be mindful of what they eat and how much, but I am having difficulty convincing my daughter that her present regime is unhealthy. She skips meals and pushes herself, training for various sporting activities. One of my sisters nearly died of anorexia so my family is well aware of the potential seriousness of the condition. I'm concerned that my daughter may develop this same disorder. Actually I've become frantic and find myself thinking about it continually. I mentioned it to my doctor today and he suggested I see a counsellor. My sister saw counsellor after counsellor but it didn't seem to help, so I guess I'm a little skeptical. Heather p.s. We live in Canberra.

Answer  As someone who has treated many girls with eating disorders, I understand your concerns about your daughter and I would not dismiss them at all. She certainly sounds as though she has a worrying degree of "eating disordered thinking". However, it is highly likely that her present circumstances have reactivated all the memories of the horror of your sisters ordeal and how it affected your family. Perhaps it has made you imagine and predict the worst possible scenarios. Though I can see how you would be cynical about counselling, given the lack of effectiveness in your sisters case, I would urge you to take your daughter to see someone well versed in diagnosing and treating eating disorders. Someone who can be more objective and dispassionate than yourself, because they are not so emotionally involved and who can further advise you as to what can be done.

Answer provided by David White



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