Ah, there is nothing more wonderful than treating yourself to the simple pleasures in life! Yet, taking care of yourself is only part of your world if you are the parent of a little one who is watching your every move. You also need to think about them and how your example will impact their life now and in the future. And if you have an eating disorder, the way you deal with it will be a big part of your example to them. Here is how getting treatment can make life better for the ones you love.
You Show Them How to Identify Problems
Do you suspect you have an eating disorder? If so, what have you done to find out? One way to start is to take a simple online eating disorder test. The test only takes a few minutes, and the results will indicate the severity of your symptoms and whether you need to consider seeking further help from a mental health professional.
As a parent, you might not feel comfortable revealing to your child that you might have a problem. But even if you do not tell them you are taking the test, you can always opt to tell them later on. At some point, when they are having a problem of their own, you can share with them your quest to find out about your eating disorder.
They Copy or Reverse Your Eating Habits
Children pay attention to what their parents do. Sometimes, they adopt the same attitudes towards food as their parents do. If their parent went on cookie binges when they were upset, the child might learn to do the same thing. Or if their parent starved themselves, the child might see anorexia as a reasonable way of life.
However, there is also another problem. Sometimes, instead of copying what you do, your child will react to it by doing the exact opposite. If you have an unhealthy relationship with food, they might have the opposite unhealthy relationship. You eat too much, and your child eats too little, for example. But by learning to manage your eating disorder, you teach them to have a healthier attitude towards eating.
They Learn Other Ways to Manage Emotions
All eating disorders involve unhealthy ways of managing emotions. So, a part of your treatment will be to find more helpful ways of managing your emotions. In fact, someone who has had treatment for an eating disorder often becomes better at managing their emotions constructively than someone who has never had such issues.
Therefore, rather than feeling bad about your eating disorder, you can take it as an opportunity to make positive changes. You can learn to express your feelings through words, art, dance, or writing. Rather than stuffing your emotions by overeating, you can learn to express your emotions to others and work towards what matters to you. Or rather than avoiding your feelings, you can get better at addressing them.
In the end, children do not need perfect parents. What they need are parents who recognize, identify, and work through problems. After all, if a child never has an example of how to overcome difficulties, they will feel lost every time they encounter a challenge in life.
If you take your eating disorder as a chance to show your child the nuts and bolts of overcoming adversity, you might be doing them a huge favor. So, take that first step. Follow through by seeking help. And whether you do it now or sometime in the future, share your journey towards better mental health with those you care about most.