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Just a Little Too Thin: How to Pull Your Child Back from the Brink of an Eating Disorder by Michael A. Strober & Meg F. Schneider
235 pages Da Capo Press September 2005 Hardcover rated 4 out of 5 stars   

Eating disorders affect young girls at an alarming rate in today's society. Parents are often overwhelmed, in need of information when dealing with such issues. This book is designed to help parents define their daughter’s eating and diet behavior to determine whether it is a passing phase or a more serious problem, with specific recommendations for interpreting eating behavior.

Just a Little Too Thin focuses pre-disorder, providing appropriate information for parents before their daughter slips into pathology, with insights on using this information proactively, concentrating on a developing girl before she falls victim to peer pressure and media saturation.

The authors outline three stages of eating behavior: the innocent (but rigid) dieter, the exhilarated dieter and the distressed and preoccupied dieter. The evolution of these stages is subtle, the obsessive dieter ever more skilled in exercising aberrant behavior, offering logical excuses for a temporary problem that may, in fact, be accelerating, a condition that “weakens her emotionally, cognitively and physically.”

A critical factor in the onset of eating disorders is puberty; the body’s natural changes occur at the same time as social expectations and hormonal acceleration, all of which may distort a girl’s perception of her body, food obsession and lack of nutrition gaining in significance. Other triggers include participation in athletics, genetic predisposition to weight gain and the combined messages of family, society and peers.

The media sends a strong and consistent drumbeat of impossible perfection. Combined with an adolescent’s need for control, the potential for an eating disorder is increased. In addition, specific case studies provide examples of pre-adolescent thinking, the misperceptions that can be corrected as a girl views her identity and body in relation to the world at large.

One chapter is devoted to suggestions for counteracting the pervasiveness of a thin-oriented culture, changing the dialog before the damage is done, including a positive approach to physical image, avoidance of injurious remarks about overweight people, articulating feelings and the development of inner resources and natural talents.

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are indicated by a clearly defined diagnosis of specific behaviors and an unnatural fear of fat that is not relieved by weight loss. Such a diagnosis requires immediate intervention. In contrast, Just a Little Too Thin addresses the diet obsession, adolescents and pre-adolescents tailoring their eating habits to control weight gain, a viable situation where parents can effectively work with their daughters. Clearly the most effective treatment is preventive, teaching girls to develop healthy self-perception, dealing with body image before it becomes a problem.

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