Efforts to satisfy the expectations of others and the drive to maximize performance often put athletes at risk of developing eating disorders. Coaches and trainers should understand their role in promoting a positive self-image and building self-esteem in their athletes. Some of the following tips may prove helpful:
- Know the signs and symptoms of eating disorders and understand your role as coach in preventing eating disorders.
- Provide athletes with accurate information regarding weight, weight loss, body composition, nutrition and sports performance in order to reduce misinformation and to challenge practices that are unhealthy and counterproductive.
- Emphasize the health risks of low weight, especially for female athletes with menstrual irregularities or amenorrhea. Refer the athlete for proper evaluation.
- Properly refer an athlete who is chronically dieting to someone who is trained in handling eating disorders.
- De-emphasize weight. Don't constantly weigh athletes, and eliminate comments about weight. Focus on other areas such as strength and mental conditioning.
- Do not assume that reducing body fat will enhance performance.
- Understand why weight is such a sensitive and personal issue for many women. If there is concern about an athlete's weight, the athlete should be referred for assessment to a registered dietitian or sports psychologist trained in treating eating disorders.
- Do not automatically curtail athletic participation if an athlete is found to have an eating problem, unless warranted by a medical condition. Consider the athlete's overall well-being.
- Understand your own values and attitudes toward weight, dieting and body image. Consider how these values may affect the athletes around you.
- Take warning signs seriously.
Learn More About The Laureate Eating Disorders Program
Please call us with questions at 918-491-3702
. If you’re outside the Tulsa metro area, please call 800-322-5173
. There is no cost for the screening call and no obligation to proceed with treatment.