Judging the severity of an eating disorder

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Judging the severity of an eating disorder

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One of the big challenges is whether you should worry about a child who is going through a bout of an eating disorder. Maybe all of her friends are dieting. She's starting to worry more. She's going through puberty. Is she going to grow out of it? Or is she going to become one of those tragic cases of a 50 year old woman who is about ready to lose all her kidney function because of an unresolved eating disorder. Which path is your child going to go down. The truth is we have no way of determining that. This is where genetics comes in. Certainly if there's been some trauma, divorce - it can be minor trauma - your child is more at risk. But I've had families and their child say to me, we've done nothing wrong. We've had a perfect childhood here. I am so happy, but I have this serious eating disorder that doesn't resolve. We don't know, so take the child going through a little bout of an eating disorder very seriously. Get her, or him, treatment. Go over the top, if you're able to, if things don't get better just because you're expressing concern. Just a parent expressing concern can stop an eating disorder in its tracks, and you're lucky if it does. Do something because you don't know. The way I bring this home to parents is to say, you know, it's like alcoholism or drug use. One drink maybe not a big problem. One drink may send you on a life of hell. You want to react early.

Watch Marcia Herrin, EdD, MPH, RD, LD's video on Judging the severity of an eating disorder...

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Marcia Herrin, EdD, MPH, RD, LD

Nutritionist

Marcia Herrin, EdD, MPH, RD, is the founder of Dartmouth College’s nationally renowned nutrition programs. Currently, Dr. Herrin conducts a private practice in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Marcia received her doctorate in nutrition education from Columbia University. At the University of California-Berkeley, she received her master’s degree and completed a dietetic internship. More recently, Marcia has completed two trainings with James Lock and Daniel le Grange in Family-Based Treatment (Maudsley). She also is certified in Childhood, Adolescent, and Adult Weight Management. Besides a fulltime counseling practice, Marcia has written three books and is working on her fourth. The Parent’s Guide to Eating Disorders tells parents everything they need to know about eating disorders. Nutrition Counseling in the Treatment of Eating Disorders tells professionals everything they need to know about working with food in eating disorders. Marcia has been featured in People magazine and on Today and 48 Hours. Marcia credits much of her success with patients with eating disorders and obesity to her own struggles with and recovery from these conditions. Her childhood, as the oldest of six children growing up on a Montana ranch, is another significant influence.

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