Kitty Westin is a parent pioneer in the eating disorders field who first told me about a film thatis often shown in US schools about animals being slaughtered as part of our food processing. Often after students view this film we see more vegetarianism and eating disorders showing up.
I don’t know why this film is being shown to school kids or if this is even part of the recommended curriculum of any states. But many kids see it and often the results are dangerous, as they were for Kitty’s daughter Anna. You can read more of the Westin’s story in my book, Just Tell Her To Stop: Family Stories of Eating Disorders.
Why am I bringing this up now? Last week I talked with two moms in two days who told me about their kids seeing this film in school. One of the kids developed an eating disorder as Anna had and the other is having very disordered eating. Both kids became vegetarians after watching this film. Neither of these kids studied how to eat vegetarian and still get all the necessary nutrients including fats and proteins.
Unfortunately there STILL is no clear answer on what “causes” people to develop eating disorders. These deadly mental illnesses, or as I prefer, brain illnesses are now being called, ‘brain disorders’ by some people in the field. See paper by Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh; “The term ‘brain disorder’: a compass or a map?” for more discussion on this subject.
With that discussion in mind we know caution must be used when we educate students about such things as the processing of our food supply. I’m not saying that this film, ’caused’ these eating disorders. I am saying that for kids who have brains that may be ‘pre-wired’ or susceptible to eating disorders this type of film can put them at the top of a very slippery slope toward a life-threatening eating disorder.
Kids don’t need to be deciding to start eliminating entire food groups. I fully realize that many people eat a vegetarian diet and do so in a way that is healthy. This takes research and training to do it in a way that is safe. The heart doubles in mass during puberty” according to Dr. Cynthia Kapphahn at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital and needs the proper nutrients to do so. You can see the video on this on my you tube page.
If your child is subjected to this film, please talk about it with him or her. And if he or she says, “I’m not going to eat meat anymore.” please talk about this with your child. It is our job to set boundaries and rules for our home and too often we’re rolling over and letting kids without fully developed reasoning skills make adult decisions. We need to be the adults, the parents (not the friend) and state what we believe to be best for their health.
I know that there can be many battles in the teen years and we may feel that this is no big deal and will just blow over. For most kids it will – they’ll miss their burgers or other foods they are used to eating. For others, it can be the top of that very slippery slope to a deadly eating disorder.
Hope Network, LLC