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Local mother and psychotherapist, CaraLynne McLean, discusses the causes, complications and prevention of eating disorders.

Eating Disorders By CaraLynne McLean

here’s a girl in pastel pants bouncing up and down on the television to an uplifting tune. Spring has sprung and there’s a spring in her step. She’s happy, footloose and fancy free. She’s selling jeans, but more than that, she’s also selling a look. She’s waif thin and smiling. Watching this commercial, I couldn’t help but focus on her long limbs and concave stomach. It made me sad, because it was yet another example of the multimedia barrage that is hypnotizing our youth, well all of us actually, into a singular belief that thin is beautiful. But I also quickly admonished myself for these thoughts. The media are often cast as the only villains in the battle against eating disorders. Parents worry about the impact the images of the media will have the on the mental health of their children. But eating disorders, while often cast as a disease resulting from mass marketing, are far more complex. As a mother and psychotherapist, I am acutely aware of this issue and have made it a focal point of my practice. It goes without saying that the pressure children experience, in this highly demanding world,

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seems to have reached an all time high. Whether the perceived stress and demands come from the media at large, social media, coaches, teachers, parents, friends or even within the individual children themselves, children experience more stress than ever before. Often, eating disorders result from poor or nonexistent coping strategies to these outside influences. Fostering a sense of resiliency and connectedness while teaching our children healthy ways of living are vital pieces when dealing with the pressures experienced by our youth. Eating disorders affect a person physically, psychologically, emotionally, socially and personally. The continuum: Eating disorders and disordered eating occur on a spectrum or continuum. The best way to explain this is to use an analogy we all know – a scale of 1 to 10. If you were to imagine that with regards to your body image, self-esteem and food, 1 = absolutely no food issues, and 10 = extreme anxiety or avoidance of food, you probably (hopefully) generally lie somewhere in the middle. You may shift up or down the spectrum a little, depending on the life

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