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Protecting our Children from Eating Disorders


By Jazzercise, Inc.

(CARLSBAD, CA) -- Although they have been widely acknowledged and studied over the past two decades, eating disorders are still a persistent danger in American society, particularly for young women. "Our fascination with body image and the pursuit of perfection continue to fuel psychological distortions when it comes to food," says Judi Sheppard Missett, founder and CEO of Jazzercise.

Here are some triggers that parents and children should be aware of:

Many popular activities for girls have a disproportionate emphasis on appearance -- cheerleading, dance, and gymnastics are prime examples. If your daughter participates in similar activities, speak openly about the pressures placed on appearance.

Help her to cultivate a healthy body image by directing as much attention towards her enthusiasm, her personal accomplishments and her dedication. The more subtle reminders you can offer that appearance is only a small portion of the whole experience, the more positive she will feel about herself. Beware when your child begins to skip meals on a regular basis. Determine whether she's eating elsewhere or not at all. Likewise, be aware of what types of foods she eats. Is her diet well balanced, including occasional fun treats like ice cream, or is she surviving strictly on a diet of vegetables and dry cereal?

Encourage regular physical activity, but watch for signs of overindulgence. Individuals with eating disorders often balance their starvation or binge- purge diets with hours of exercise.

One preventive measure is to introduce your children to exercise at an early age and participate with them. In this way, you can teach them the value of moderate workouts and begin building a healthy self esteem at a young age.

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The following abdominal exercise is easy to perform together, and you can guide one another to good technique and execution. Because this exercise lifts the pelvis, rather than the upper torso, you will feel a bit more emphasis on the lower abdominal region, although the entire length of your abdominal muscles will be working.
Begin on your back with your legs extended in the air, knees bent, and feet above your hips. You can cross your ankles if it is more comfortable for you. Exhale and pull your abdominal muscles in as if you were trying to touch your belly button to your spine. Use your abdominal muscles to pull your hip bones up toward your ribs and tilt your tailbone slightly upward. Lower slowly and repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times. Be sure to keep the movement small, and avoid swinging or kicking your legs as you do this. You can practice the pelvic tilt movement with your feet flat on the floor before trying it with your legs elevated, if desired.

© Jazzercise, Inc., 1999-present
Jazzercise is the world's largest fitness program with 5,000+ instructors teaching more than 19,000 classes weekly to 450,000 students in 38 countries around the globe. For more information or worldwide class locations, go to jazzercise.com or call 1(800)FIT-IS-IT - Courtesy of Jazzercise, Inc. - jazzercise.com.

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