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The link between High Achieving Families and Disordered Eating

As a parent, it’s so normal to want to help your children strive for succeed. However, there is a fine line between success and perfection. High-achieving families can cultivate unnecessary stress within the home, which may lead to a range of health problems for children.

Eating disorders and disordered eating are classified as mental disorders because of the related emotional and behavioural issues. The problem here is that other factors might not be considered. In some cases, families can inadvertently contribute to the development of eating disorders in young people, where constant stress can play a major role.

These pressures most commonly stem from families. There is nothing wrong with achieving your goals, but if parents exhibit extremely high stress levels towards children, this can take a toll on children’s body image and eating habits. Some parents who give their children less autonomy, paired with a highly stressful environment can cause children to seek to control any element of their life... and this is often their food intake.

What defines as a high achieving family? • exhibiting a strong need to please others • high levels of stress and energy • perception that they can do anything • pressure (overt or covert) to be the best at something • hobbies being taken seriously omitting the ‘fun’ element • feeling like no one can be good enough or the best at something so striving to practice more • placing studies and education over any other social skill • allows little down time or time for self-care • always placing family time as more important than alone time • not allowing children to have autonomy “mum/dad knows best perspective” • filling any free day with activities to keep children stimulated (little rest/relax days) • obsessing over looking perfect • need to prove themselves to others High achieving families are not just the parents who scream on the side-lines of their children’s football games and telling them how to do better next time, but as you can see there are many different characteristics.

Children from high achieving families often hold onto this control into their adulthood which could explain the correlation between eating disorders/disordered eating in high achieving females.

This of course does NOT count for all high achieving families but there has been link between children from high achieving families and developed eating disorders/disordered eating from early teenage years/young adult

If you were a child from a family who exhibited any of these behaviours, you could have come from a high achieving family, which could have effected a number of disordered eating habits.

It’s important to work through these to get to the root of your behaviours and STOP putting a plaster over the problem.

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