I am the mother of a 13-14 year old whose diet is not terribly good. I am very worried that he is underweight and whilst I see his school friends shooting up, he still seems very small. When I ask him to try other foods, he just shrugs and avoids conversations about foods. I feel sad that he isn't trying new stuff and worry for his future. What should I do?
From: Joann, Paignton, UK
Have you checked with his doc to make sure this isn't a medical growth issue?
Have you considered that
boys can get anorexia, too? Consider whether this is disordered eating that could lead to an eating disorder, or whether it's just that he's got picky taste. The most likely profile for a boy who has an eating disorder is a teen who is trying to make weight in a sport, or an over-achiever who is anxious to please.
Has he been a picky eater always? That would speak to issues of food texture, food color and taste. If this is a new development, it speaks more to a teenager wanting control over his life. Is it possible he feels you are smothering, treating him more like a little kid than the teen he is?
I suggest conversations with your son. Make "I" statements ("I worry about your weight...."), not "You" statements ("You don't eat enough...." "You don't try new things..."). Ask questions: Does he worry about his size and weight? Does he get picked on because of it? Would he like help with learning how to eat a more nutritional diet? Is he aware that eating issues are not just a girl thing? He may be more responsive to a dietician than he will be to you.
I hope we get comments/advice from men/dads who have had eating issues and from parents of boys who do.
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