If your teen is recovering from an eating disorder, you can do your part to support them. Help them make smart nutritional choices, feel safe around food and ensure they’re getting all the nutrients they need. Try these nutritious tips to improve your teen’s health.
Consult With a Doctor or Dietitian
Before making any nutrition decisions, make an appointment for your teen to visit a doctor and/or a dietitian. A physician will check your teen’s physical health to see if they’re dangerously underweight or if they have a vitamin deficiency—your doctor will prescribe the appropriate treatment for an eating disorder. A dietician will work with you and your teen to create a customized meal plan that will help restore your teen’s health.
Ensure Your Teen is Eating a Balanced Diet
For your teen to receive all the vitamins and minerals their body needs, they must eat a balanced diet that consists of all food groups. A diet solely made up of fruits and vegetables won’t provide your teens with enough calories or protein, while a diet solely made up of carbohydrates won’t offer the essential vitamins.
Cook Foods Your Teen Likes
To help your teen become more comfortable with mealtime, cook healthy foods you know they like. By preparing dishes your teen enjoyed before they developed their eating disorder, they’ll know that you’re thinking of their comfort. Doing so also encourages your teen to get in the habit of eating regular meals.
Create a Regular Eating Schedule
Most teens with eating disorders are extremely anxious about mealtimes. Working together with your teen to create a schedule that outlines meal and snack times may help alleviate their concerns. A schedule will also hold your teen accountable for eating on time, as they can no longer use excuses such as “I already ate” or “I didn’t realize it was dinnertime.”
Shop for Groceries With Your Teen
Take time to explore grocery stores and farmers markets with your teen. It’s important to expand food choices during recovery, as many teens with eating disorders have a list of “safe foods” that they feel most content in consuming. Going grocery shopping together will allow your teen to discover new types of food that they might enjoy. You may want to create a goal for each trip, such as buying a new food item that your teen has never tried before, to help your teen become more comfortable around food.
Cook Meals Together
Cooking with your teen allows them to get used to preparing healthy meals, a task that they can find very difficult. As you cook, check in with your teen and ask how they feel. Encourage them to talk to you about what they like or don’t like about cooking. Helping them develop a better relationship with food serves as an important part of their recovery.
Above all else, it’s important to seek professional treatment if your teen suffers from an eating disorder.
Feature Photo: Valeria Boltneva