ARIZONA NEWS

Here are warning signs of body image issues as Arizona summer nears

May 30, 2024, 4:35 AM

Summer is nearing in Arizona, but for many teens it can be a time of deep insecurity for fear of ha...

Summer is nearing in Arizona, but for many teens it can be a time of deep insecurity for fear of having to put on a bathing suit. (Getty Images Photo/Spencer Platt)

(Getty Images Photo/Spencer Platt)

PHOENIX — Summer is nearing in Arizona, but for many teens it can be a time of deep insecurity for fear of having to put on a bathing suit.

About 9% of Arizonans will have an eating disorder in their lifetime, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. A Youth Risk Behavior Survey showed that 50% of Arizona teens try to lose weight use unhealthy habits like fasting or purging.

Sabrina Solares, a licensed professional counselor with Denova Collaborative Health, helps children, teens and adults overcome eating disorders. She said there are warning signs parents and others need to look out for.

“If they have an intense fear of gaining weight, they’re body checking a lot more, maybe they’re consistently stepping on the scale or pinching their skin,” Solares said.

Solares believes no teens should be “intermittent fasting,” a diet trend where a person only eats during an 8 or 12-hour window.

She said our bodies need fuel consistently throughout the day and fasting can actually backfire.

When you only eat once a day, your body responds by holding on to what little nourishment it has, including stored fat. Solares says even if you’re sitting for much of the day, your body is still working to pump blood, breathe and keep your digestive tract moving.

What other body image symptoms should parents look out for?

Solares says shifts in mood can also be an indicator a teen may be struggling with an eating disorder.

“Social withdrawal is a big one. Body image issues and eating disorders thrive in isolation,” Solares said. “If they don’t want to hang out with friends anymore, if they’re denying their hunger frequently, if they’re making excuses to avoid eating or having meals.”

It’s important for parents to be having open and honest conversations with their kids about how they see themselves. Solares says some good questions to ask are, “how are you feeling about your body?” and “what are some pressures you’re facing to look a certain way?”

She recommends making meal time a positive experience to help teens build healthy relationships with food. She says having meals together as a family and making them colorful with a variety of produce is a good place to start.

Solares says if your child is skipping meals, using laxatives or purging it might be time to seek help from a professional licensed therapist.

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Here are warning signs of body image issues as Arizona summer nears