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Family Meals and Eating Disorders

It is National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and the subject can't really be contained to one week. When thinking about eating disorders, and frankly getting a little sad about them, I remembered a positive news story I read a while back. There was a study on family meals and eating disorders, that as mother of two girls I found heartening.

Researchers found that sitting down for regular family meals may actually help prevent eating disorders. Girls who ate five or more meals with their families weekly were one third less likely to practice extreme weight control behaviors. Extreme weight control behaviors range from vomiting, taking diet pills and abusing diuretics. Interestingly enough, family meals did not seem to lower unhealthy weight control behaviors like binge eating, smoking or skipping meals. It is important to note that the researchers did say that how the family acts during these meals is important, because they could also promote unhealthy eating habits. Enhancing the meal time atmosphere and saving possibly emotionally loaded topics, like potential prom plans, for other times might promote a healthy relationship with food too.

Join The Conversation
Spectra Spectra 9 years
We always ate dinner together as a family when I was growing up and neither me or my sister had EDs in high school. When I went to college and started eating alone more often, I started getting kind of crazy and I developed bulimia. I went to therapy for it, but I still sometimes struggle with it. I can't imagine what would have happened if I had developed an ED in high school...that would have been a bad thing.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I agree. Plus I mean we all need "togetherness" time.
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 9 years
hottpink and xrawk_starrx...OH dear, eating disorders are such a negative thing. =( Good luck on the battle!!!! =D
xrawk_starrx xrawk_starrx 9 years
My family and I never eat together. I used to starve myself and they would never find out about it. I don't do it anymore though. I try to eat healthy.
javsmav javsmav 9 years
My family always ate meals together, but my mom has a bad "relationship" with food, so that probably promoted rather than discouraged my eating disorder. Despite spending over a decade struggling with an ED, I still say family dinners are very important. If I have a family, I will definitely make sure we do that, but I will be mindful of how I act around them when it comes to food.
sugar_me_sweet sugar_me_sweet 9 years
I ate with my family all the time until college. As a child, my mom made me finish everything off my plate so I think I still do that. People died because there was a lack of food, so I hate wasting food.
EcannDallas EcannDallas 9 years
we ALWAYS sat down together to eat. and i think that helped me have a healthy relationship with food and ive never battled any sort of eating disorder. my parents never used food as a reward or punishment. they never forced us to finish everything on our plates, and fast food was a rare treat not the usual. i really think the way you were brought up directly affects how you feel about yourself.
hottpink hottpink 9 years
When I was growing up we ALWAYS had dinner as a family almost every night. When my brother and I were younger we always used to hate it sometimes but now I look back and really appreciate what they did. It wasn't until I moved out that I developed bulimia and battled it for 4 years.
nancita nancita 9 years
I can definitely see the validity in this.
Lovely_1 Lovely_1 9 years
We always eat as a fmaily (well when I lived at home). Every dinner we sat down. Sometimes a few of us would be missing. Liek my mom and dad were at dinner so us 3 kids would make food and sit down together or soemthing.
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 9 years
My boyfriend was bulimic for a whooping full year (before I knew him). His family eat at the most odd time of day everyday, never together as a family, so I really agree with this article. I grew up having family dinner every weekday till I was in college, however, I suffered from about six months of acute anorexia. But I was able to snap out of it pretty quick before any long term harm was done.
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