Working with the GIRLS SCOUTS of Greater Atlanta


Teens’ VOICES: Can Parents be Helpful when it Comes to Body Image & Food?

Often, unfortunately, parents are not helpful to Teens, even when they try to be! This happens a lot in relation to body image and food. If you are a teen who wants to VOICE how parents can be helpful to YOU, this is YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO VOICE what YOU NEED, and want THEM to do.Your answers could be part of a book, anonymously, of course, to protect your identity.

This is the beginning of the book enterprise. Hope YOU DECIDE TO HELP!! You can reach me by FB, email, Twitter or from within my website.

Here are Your Questions

1) Name you want to use for book (you can make up your name):

2) Age and Gender:

4) City, State and Country (or just tell me how many people live in your city and state)

5) What, in your opinion, are the most unhelpful thing parents do, concerning food?

6) What are the most unhelpful thing parents do, concerning body image?

7) What would you want parents to know about body image & eating that would help you?

8) Do you think parents could be helpful to you in any way? How?

9) Could friends be helpful? How could they do differrently?

10) How can Society at large be helpful to you?

PLEASE SEND ME YOUR ANSWERS to my EMAIL (sorry about the old method)


Your Daughter is Fat: What should You Tell Her?


 Your Daughter is Fat: What should You Tell Her?

We live in a world of paradoxical attitudes toward food, eating and body size.

On one hand, we are told we need to be slim down because being overweight is bad for our heath.

But, a moment later,  when we order a regular latte, its sheer size (without counting on the contents of the drink) could feed and quench the thirst of an entire family of eight.

Advertisements for the most part, depict messages of women in ‘perfect shape’ in accordance to the cultural norm that dictates what is beautiful today.

Furthermore, the bodies depicted in commercials and songs in teen pop culture are usually half-naked at best, in sexually insinuating poses.

Sexuality and sexualization get compounded and confused when teen are at ana ge where sexuality, physicality and body imageneed to be figured out.

Teens may feel awkward if they do not fit in, with the group of friends they want to belong to, if the reason is that they do not look a certain way.

Thank Goodness For Meghan Trainor and India who are breaking the mold, and showing different beauty models! Their songs are wonderfully inspiring, the beginning of inclusion in our society.

But what if…

Your daughter is fat; she tells you she hates her body because it is not the way it ‘should’ be; she tells you that the way she looks is the reason she is not invited to parties or out of school activities;

What do you do?

The following are some tips for you to follow when your daughter is fat and feels bad about it:

  • Acknowledge to your daughter that she does not have the type of body she wishes she had.
  • Let her know that you empathize with her suffering but that you believe she is gorgeous.
  • Explain to her that there are many body types.
  • Assure her that bodies are dynamic and they change as people get older.
  • Let her know she will never feel the same about her body, as she feels as a teen, just as she will not always have pimples.
  • Ask her about those who leave her out and find out about other of friends.
  • Discuss with her how one gets ‘stuck’ in trying to be liked by some, instead of trying to make new friends.
  • Ask her how would she want you to help her. Assure her you are there for her.
  • Tell her that dieting is never a good idea because she will become compulsive if she stops eating to lose weight.
  • Tell her you will go shopping together for yummy food. Food that she wants and that will be healthy for her too.
  • Never deny her from eating what she would like reminding her she said she was fat five minutes ago (she will learn how to regulate on her own).
  • Together, look for role models that have her body type.
  • Discuss how the ‘cool factor’ has nothing to do with weight.
  • Acknowledge that middle school, and high school can be the worse moments in life ever (okay… bear in mind you are talking to a teen so you need to be a bit dramatic too). Besides, if you think back, I am pretty sure you will agree that those school  moments  were pretty awful)
  • Assure her that her feelings and problems will go away.
  • Assure her too, that she is gorgeous to you and that she will be a gorgeous young woman to the World, not just you, in a few years!

What do YOU tell your children to help them when they feel bad about their body?

Share with us!

Latest book by Iréné Celcer

Spring and Body Image

Spring … nature wakes up. It seems that it gathers vigor and potency to deliver the enchantment of renewal and then, a full summer. The birthing during spring may feel sudden as when chirping birds inundate our hearing one morning, seemingly out of the blue. Or, it may feel subtle and smooth as when one sees little green leaves and tender spruces come to life gently.Be it as it may, sudden or subtle for most people, spring is a lovely season.

But, for certain women, and for some men, the new sounds, smells and tastes of spring bring anxiety. The prospect of wearing lighter, more revealing clothing, more than announcing a change in weather, it signifies a tyranny and almost a torture. Why?

  1. Spring is the season where women begin to uncover the bodies that they covered for months. But for those with an eating or a body image problem, each layer of clothing that gets discarded brings on a layer of obsessing about body image, dieting and the impending need of a swimsuit. Young women, more than ever are shown and told to show more body that they were ever asked to shown before. In fact, we are at the point where nothing in a woman’s anatomy seems to be private anymore. Young women worry about the right shape of their If you do not know what your camel toe is, know at least that it does not refer to your feet or toes. Wikipedia enlightens you as follows:

Camel toe or cameltoe is a slang term that refers to the outline of a human female’s labia majora, as seen through tightly fitting clothes. Due to a combination of anatomical factors and the tightness of the fabric covering it, the crotch and mons pubis may take on a resemblance to the forefoot of a camel.

So, what is it that you can do to help younger and older women (and men) to welcome the renewal that springs brings on, with a sense of peace and relaxation and indeed, renewal? What can you do so that other women (and men) do not feel so insecure about their body and body image?

  • Now that spring is here, do not engage in diet talk. It feeds insecurities.
  • Do not ‘mince yourself’ in from of the mirror looking at JUST ‘a thigh’, ‘a stomach’, or ‘a hip’.
  • When you look in the mirror, do not put yourself down especially in front of your children. They learn by example.
  • Do not complain about clothes shopping and your body with your teen. Remember that it is the clothing, not your body what is at fault if something does not fit you well. One size or one style or one fashion cannot possibly fit all of us.
  • Remember that your insecurities during spring are valuable to big corporations that make money on the anti cellulite cream you buy when you feel bad about your body.
  • Do enjoy your body as it is. Breath renewal in doing the things you love to do.
  • Pay attention to the colors you will like to use this season.
  • Choose to shop, stores that have your style and sizes.
  • Respect that you as all others are not perfect. Have you seen Cindy Crawford’s’ unaltered pictures of her body? She is a regular person!
  • Remind your child or teen all of the above  when you tell her that spring is about happiness. Let him know that renewal is  never about perfection, it is just about rebirth!

Nine Tips to Help Teach Kids to Love Themselves

Written for Mothering in the Middle

Teaching our kids how to love themselves is an ongoing task. It is a legacy that, when passed on correctly, will forever be an asset, much more than money or the best college!

You teach youngsters that to love themselves is to answer to their own hunger with food, to their own thirst with water and to their emotions with kindness and gentleness, no matter what they are. It is pretty straightforward.

When your kid becomes a teen, you teach him to love himself by not giving in, to peer pressure. Withstanding peer pressure equals loving oneself.

You explain that not to have sex when too young or under-pressure, is about self-respect and self-love. Depending on religious beliefs, you may say they need to wait until marriage.But, unwillingly and thinking they are acting on their children’s best interest, parents may teach self-hate and disrespect!

Here are nine tips to teach your teen to love him/herself:

1- Keep Perspective. Figure out your fears and anxieties regarding your own personal history.
2- When your teen was an infant/ child the basis of your love was to know/feel what she needed/ wanted. Now, you will show love by teaching her to know her own needs!
3-Your teen will practice self-love if you teach him that it is okay to relax, allow her to have free time. Do NOT over schedule.
4-each your teen that self-love is paying attention to what your body says.
5-Respect her time and space.
6-Teach her that she is lovable no matter what her grades are! Test scores do not measure worth or lovability.
7-Link his moodiness or her irritability or self- deprecation to possible stress. Teach them how to ‘read’ their own stress.
9-Teach them that it is okay to have different feelings, even all at once!

More than any college they may go to, or money you might leave them, reading and tending to their own needs is the biggest gift of love you can leave them with.

Irene Celcer Iréné Celcer is a mental health professional and parenting expert with specialties that include ADD, bullying, infertility, and third party reproductive assistance and adoption. A regular guest on CNN, she has extensive expertise in eating disorders, body image perceptions, and women’s issues. In addition to her authorships and philanthropic work, she maintains a private practice; she lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. 99Tips to Reset The Table: Parenting in a Society Obsessed with Food, Weight, Obesity and Body Image (Graphite Press) is her latest book. You can find her at or in Twitter:@irenecelcer. You can also email her or find more info in her website

More Of – You Know Your Child Has An Eating Disorder – Now What? (Part IV)

Mothering in the Middle

(This article was Written for and published by Mothering in the Middle

Lucy began avoiding certain foods at 14. Her mom became concerned and took her to a nutritionist. “She just wants a plan to eat healthy, I think she feels fat,” mom told the nutritionist. Lucy was happy to see a nutritionist. She began the healthy plan and began losing weight. This made her feel ac…

What To Do If Your Teen Has An Eating Disorder

What To Do If Your Teen Has An Eating Disorder
by Iréné Celcer

Natalie is 16 years old, a straight-A student. She is looking into colleges and excited about leaving home. Six months ago, she began dieting: “I want to look good when I go to college and for the prom.” Natalie loses weight and at first, she seems happy. “I feel so grown up with my new clothes,” she beams!

One day, her boyfriend negatively comments on the looks of a girlfriend saying to Natalie, “ I hope you don’t gain the freshman 15.” Natalie freezes inside and reaffirms her efforts not to ever gain weight … by vowing to pursue dieting as it consumes her entire day.

15 Signs that Your Teen has an Eating Disorder

1) Your daughter no longer eats meat, carbohydrates or anything that contains fat.

2) Dieting is no longer one element of her life but an all-consuming activity.

3) Family eating becomes a battle. Your son refuses anything you serve.

4) Family events become impossible. No restaurant accommodates your teen’s needs.

5) Her weight comes off in front of your horrified eyes, no matter how much she reassures you that she is eating.

6) Your son isolates himself.

7) Friendships and social life become a thing of the past.

8) Grades go down.

9) Your daughter covers the body she worked so hard to make beautiful.

10) She becomes irritable and cold.

11) You see no joy on his life.

12) Exercising, purging or counting calories are the focus of the day.

15) Your teen uses a scale daily.

16) No matter what the number in the scale shows, he is unhappy.

17) She exercises unreasonably.

Tips for Parents

Eating disorders are very complex diseases. They are multi-factorial which means there may be genetic, biological, environmental and social forces at work. There may be familial forces at work too, but this is not always the case. In this instance, Natalie may be scared about leaving home and ambivalent about growing up. Genetically she may have always been the perfectionist type even if her parents never forced her to be driven.

The first thing to do, as a parent is not blame yourself! It is an important as you need to keep a clear mind to act appropriately, and not out of guilt! Once your son or your daughter crossed over from ‘just dieting’ into ‘problematic eating’ and finally into ‘an eating disorder’ you need to act quickly. Why? Because the eating disorder will consume her life and she will spend her days obsessing, counting calories, checking her weight, exercising or purging. The eating disorder sort of swallows up your son and engulfs the entire family.

It is very important that the family provides early treatment for the teen and seeks treatment for themselves if they need it. Studies show again and again that the sooner treatment is provided, the least the length of time the disease has gone on, the best prognosis the patient has.

What must you do?

1) Do not engage in fighting over amount of food eaten.

2) Do not try to convince your son to see things your way.

3) Let him know that, right or wrong, you are worried.

4) Explain that you have decided to seek an expert’s opinion.

5) Let her know that you will follow the expert’s opinion. And it may be, according to the expert’s opinion that she may need to see a doctor and a therapist. The professional will tell you how to handle things. (Your statement is not an invitation to discuss the issue.)

6) Research professionals to follow up with all treatment aspects.

7) Ultimately, trust your instincts. You will find the right help.

Irene CelcerIréné Celcer, 56, has extensive experience working internationally with men, women, and children who suffer from obesity, body image disturbances and eating disorders. She is a regular guest at CNN where she talks about her specialties on , food and disordered eating, parenting and bullying. Iréné holds graduate degrees in psychology from Universidad de Belgrano, Argentina; Holistic Psychologyfrom Antioch University, San Francisco; and Social Work from Yeshiva University, New York. She is is the author of the collection of books, Hope & Will Have a Baby (Graphite Press, 2007, 2010), 99 Tips to Reset the Table: Parenting in a Society Obsessed with Food, Weight, Obesity, & Body Body Image (Graphite Press 2015). She is also the author of some books in Spanish: Mujer, Cuerpo, Dieta? La Voz de La Obsesion/ Women, Their Bodies & Dieting: The Voice of an Obsession/ (Vinciguerra 1996) and La Tirania de las Dietas/The Tyranny (Planeta 1994). Her daughter is 15 years old.

When World News Produce Anxiety

This article is for your information only. It is not meant to give medical or psychological advice or to replace a visit with a medical provider. Please consult with a physician and a mental health professional on the topic. 

How to Recognize and Reduce Anxiety

Life is uncertain and uncertainty breeds anxiety. One of the most important task parents can do for their children is to help them feel secure in the world that surrounds them. The security acquired during infancy, childhood and adolescence is what allows adults to deal with the inevitable ambiguity of living, in a healthy manner. Although ambiguity is unavoidable, it gets highlighted when wars, natural disasters or diseases hit the home.

What do you need to know as a parent when a horror like 9/11, wars, floods, AIDS or Ebola hit home via the computer or the TV screen?

Let’s take the case of Ebola to talk about how children or teens may react:

  1. Children and teens may feel worried and fearful about the recent news reporting Ebola.
  2. It is important acknowledge the topic to decrease children’s and teems’ anxiety. Will they catch it at school or in the street?
  3. Children and even teens may feel threatened when they hear reports about Ebola in the United States, especially if they do not understand clearly what an epidemic means or, if the the issue of location is unclear to them.
  4. Constant news may increase levels of fear, stress and anxiety. If they TV is constantly on, or the news streams in constantly via the computer, their exposure may be beyond what their brain can assimilate.
  5. It is important to educate our youth about the sources of news.
  6. Knowing the sources of the news may help you, as a parent; understand why your sons or daughters are anxious. Rumors and misinformation about a stressful event makes the event terrifying.
  7. Be sure you are receiving updates from a reliable news source so you are not misguided about the true risk and precautions available in your community. You can tailor the information for your children according to their age.

Common Reactions of Children and Teens

As we discussed before, uncertainty breeds anxiety. When the uncertainty is felt in the macro level of the community, everybody may feel unsafe or less safe. But, children and teens may feel the added stress of the cushion they generally rely upon –parents- removed. The feeling of their support system less sturdy plus uncertainty plus the uncertainty of the news may cause physical, emotional and mental reactions.

Children and teens may feel an array of feelings such as confusion, anger, guilt or even rage. If these feelings are pervasive or if they do not go away after a few weeks, parents are advised to consult with a professional.

Children and teens that are scared about the world that surrounds them feel unsafe. When they feel unsafe they may have the following symptoms:

  • Feeling on edge and tense, nervous or irritable.
  • Tiredness that goes beyond what is the normal for the activity level they put out.
  • Feelings of exhaustion are a common complaint.
  • Paradoxically, even if they are exhausted children and teens cannot sleep.
  • Difficulty in sleeping in teens and children should be a red flag for parents.
  • Children or teens may have difficulty or inability concentrating on tasks at school or home.
  • Excessive emotionality can be a clue to parents that something is wrong: i.e. constant crying.
  • Need to be left alone to the point of isolation may be another clue for parents.

Helpful Tips for Parents to consider

There are simple steps that can be taken to help your child or teen feel better and more secure in a world that feels bombarded by unpleasant news and therefore, all of a sudden, less safe.

  1. Take time to talk to your child or teen. Make sure you do not ‘just’ ‘talk to’ your child but also hear him out as well.
  2. Pay attention to what your teen says and what worries her.
  3. Calm his fears down in a realistic manner. Do not promise what you do not really know with certainty, i.e. that no one will die or that Ebola will be eradicated.
  4. Let your child know that adult professionals are doing the best to keep them safe.
  5. Make sure they know they can always ask questions.

Should you ask for Professional Help?

You should get trained professional help if talking with your family does not calm your teen or child down. You will know talking to your child or teen has not helped because your teen or child will display behaviors that will show you that she/he is past the point of being anxious. You may see the following behaviors.

  • Inability to return to her normal routine.
  • Thoughts of hurting himself or herself  or others.
  • Your teen continues to isolate and talks to no one.
  • Grades suffer and go down.
  • Use of alcohol, drugs.
  • Friendships and social life are no longer important.
  • Problems with eating.
  • Self-cutting



Is my Teen ‘Just Dieting’ or Developing an Eating Disorder?

by Iréné Celcer LCSW, MAChildhoodObesity

Dear Reader: This is Part I of a four-part series…

Julie just turned 15. This is the third night that she chimes in about her meat, “Mom, this is disgusting …and cruel too!“ She also declares,  “I am a vegetarian.”
You are not sure what to think. (more…)