I looked up my daughter’s history on YouTube. I am worried.

Care and Nutrition is Slate’s parenting advice column. Do you have a question about care and nutrition? Send it here.

Dear Care and Nutrition,

My daughter (a young teenager) is starting to eat less and less. Two weeks ago she was eating three full meals a day, plus two snacks. Now, she eats two apple slices for breakfast and claims she doesn’t feel hungry enough to eat more than a small portion of her dinner. At school, she’s supposed to get school lunches, but over the past week or so, I haven’t received any notifications telling me she bought anything (her school uses an app system that alerts parents if their kids get anything). She rarely eats snacks.

I’m worried about her. I checked her YouTube channel last night (she realizes I’m checking her phone). Her view history is full of “diet tips” and “weight loss goals.” For the record, she’s a healthy weight, but she looks a bit chubby due to her short stature for her age (although I’ve never told her this). I’m not sure how to open a conversation with her about this without making her get defensive; All I want to do is help her.

—It’s not necessary to lose weight, she’s a teenager

Dear losing weight is not necessary,

You should gently confront your daughter about the changes in her eating habits and the things she found in her search terms. Ask her why she feels she needs to lose weight; Did anyone say something to her or is she just comparing herself to other girls? Let her know that it’s okay to want to be healthy, but she doesn’t need to skip meals or count calories (and remind her that she’s at a healthy weight now, and no interventions are needed).

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You Can Encourage her to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly rather than depriving herself. Talk to her about eating disorders and how dangerous it is for young people to restrict themselves so severely when they are still growing and need large amounts of food every day. Involve her in meal planning and help her identify good-tasting items that nourish her body without excess salt or sugar, as well as some sweets and snacks that she can have as a reward. The intuitive eating guide for teens Include body-positive tips for a healthy relationship with food. Affirm her body and make sure she is exposed to media and books that feature characters with different body types. Make sure you don’t say negative things about your body or anyone else’s body in front of her (and definitely don’t tell her you think she looks “a little chubby”).

If you are not able to adapt to eating well instead of just no When it comes to eating, you should consider taking her to a therapist who treats youth with eating disorders; I’m not saying she has one, but you don’t want to wait until you have one to take action.

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-beautiful

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