MENTAL HEALTH PROMOTION
Nurses can educate parents, children, and young people about strategies to prevent eating disorders. Important aspects include realizing that the “ideal” figures portrayed in advertisements and magazines are unrealistic, developing realistic ideas about body size and shape, resisting peer pressure to diet, improving self-esteem, and learning coping strategies for dealing with emotions and life issues.
The Atlanta Center for Eating Disorders (2008) offers the following advice:
· Read the research about fad diets: They don’t work. No-fat diets are unhealthy, and claims about diets that use special combinations of food are unfounded.
· Send the right message to children about food and body image issues. Parents who are constantly worrying about or talking about weight or are always “on a diet” powerfully influence their children. Give up dieting and eat well-balanced meals.
· Listen to your conversations. Weight, dieting, and appearance are among the most common topics for women. Make a pact with friends to stop talking about your bodies negatively.
· Focus on the positive aspects of yourself and others that have nothing to do with physical appearance.
· Encourage healthy expression of emotions. Learn posi-tive ways to communicate.
· Give up wanting to be thin before doing anything, and get on with enjoying your life.
· Increase physical activity by focusing on the enjoyment of movement, not on how many calories you’ll burn. School nurses, student health nurses at colleges and
universities, and nurses in clinics and doctors’ offices may encounter clients in various settings who are at risk for developing or who already have an eating disorder. In these settings, early identification and appropriate referral are primary responsibilities of the nurse. Routine screening of all young women in these settings would help identify those at risk for an eating disorder. Such early identification could result in early intervention and prevention of a full-blown eating disorder.