Does calorie counting at 13 lead to eating disorders?
My daughter and her friends have started creating journals of what they eat via an app which automatically counts their calories. She sometimes skips dinner if she has already consumed the calories for the day. While I am all in for healthy eating I am afraid this is not required, at her age. Will this behaviour lead to eating disorder?
1 expert and 1 parent have answered
It may or may not lead to an eating disorder. My main concern would be whether or not the app is accurately tuned to your daughters dietary requirements; teenagers tend to need more calories and other nutrients than the guideline daily amounts for adults or children specify [because they are growing].
While diet tracking might have benefits this case might need some working on. Personally I don't think you need to completely discourage your daughter from using this app, but what you should do [in my opinion] is work with her to plan meals and snacks to ensure she still eats a balanced diet and three meals a day, and I would say if she keeps skipping dinner that your leniency surrounding the app won't be so strong.
Also don't forget that calories are constantly being burned, even while we're sitting, so if this app purely adds up calories you should remind your daughter the total will actually be far less at the end of the day.
Back to the topic, whether or not this leads to anything serious like an eating disorder is hard to predict, but I think as long as you work with her and show her the importance of a balanced diet something serious can be avoided. If you just stop her from using the app due to fear this would probably do more damage than good.
Best of luck, whatever you choose to do :-)
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The best solution is for you to take her to talk with her pediatrician about this behavior. Children are growing and at times of rapid growth may need more calories than the app suggests. This can lead to damaging the proper development of her metabolism, which could cause her to be unable to control her weight when she gets older.