According to the Eating Disorder definition, it is not only about food and eating habits. In fact, an eating disorder is a mental illness that can lead to a poor diet and severe body problems. Stereotypically it is said that it mostly happens to teenage girls, however, this isn’t always the case – anyone can develop such a disorder.
It is important that we, as the family, pay close attention to our kids’ actions and make sure they don’t fall into this trap. Luckily, there are certain signs we can look for to make sure our teens don’t encounter further physical and psychological issues.
Below is a list of the best tips for parents on how to spot and deal with teenage eating disorders. Keep them in mind when observing your teen.
If your teen often finds an excuse to avoid eating at home, this might be the case. Some of the excuses include: saying that they already had lunch at school and that they had a meal at their friend’s house.
If you notice a constant pattern, then stay alert and look for other signs. But at the same time, bear in mind that on a rare occasion everyone might skip a meal – for example, while being stressed out by an exam.
Very common for teenagers with bulimia and anorexia disorders, this one is fairly easy to spot because of visual signs.
If you happen to see your teens’ skin is extremely dry this can mean they are constantly dehydrated. Moreover, it is a popular topic that students are required to write essays on during their studies.
But every so often it can be very challenging for them, and likely they can check some good paper samples on suitable topics.
They can find out college essays about eating disorders written by students mentioning this theme.
Usually, this is caused by not drinking enough water throughout the day and also by forcing themselves to vomit. Dehydration can lead to lowered focus while studying, constant fatigue and countless skin problems.
Going to the Toilet/Disappearing After Eating
Do you notice your teenager acting strangely after having a meal? If they quickly run to the toilet, this might be one of the common signs of a teenage eating disorder.
A kid with bulimia will try to get rid of excess calories by vomiting shortly after eating. Occasionally, they might also use laxative substances to make things easier.
As extreme as it sounds, these behaviors aren’t all rare for teens, especially for the ones that are forced to eat by their parents.
Hiding Food in Their Room
While it is pretty common for teenagers to have some snacks around the house, a large amount should be alarming. If you encounter a large stash of food in their bedroom, this can mean a couple of things.
They might be hiding the food you prepared for them, such as homemade snacks in a boxing lunch or sandwiches…
Or they might be storing food as a sign of binge-eating, which is a practice among extremely fasting teenagers.
Furthermore, be on the lookout for empty containers and plastic wraps of the food they have already consumed and are hiding.
Other Unusual Eating Habits
The list could go on and on, however, there are a few more weird behaviors you might notice.
Your teen may refuse to eat in public, that goes for restaurants, college food courts or even family events and gatherings. It is important to know that some teenagers experience a phobia about consuming food in public places. They might refuse to go to these places or become anxious when they’re already there.
A teenager may also suddenly refuse to eat certain foods, even whole groups, which can be a sign as well. Instead, they sometimes restrict their diet to just a couple of light things to keep their stomach full.
This can become apparent if your kid starts to be obsessed with what they eat and even checks every food label they encounter.
While being aware of nutrients and calories is a healthy thing, the obsession leading to an Eating Disorder is certainly not.
How to avoid eating disorder problems in children. The entire topic of Teenage Eating disorders can be tough for the family, you may seem to be helpless, but there are certain steps you can take.
Identifying the difficulty and raising your awareness is a good starting point, but you shouldn’t end at that. There are specific programs that teach kids how to avoid eating disorder problems in school.
However, if your teen has already fallen into this dangerous trap – do not fear. You need to have a talk with your young one and discover the causes. Be mindful and take every word seriously, even if you don’t fully understand.
At the same time, try to avoid mentioning the topic of food around your teenager. This will make them less anxious and help them think of other, less stressful things in their life. Meanwhile, reach out for the help of a professional.
Consult your local GP and tell them about your observations and concerns, as usually, your teen will require additional support at first. The doctor may then recommend you to a specialist or even a psychologist for further instructions.
Remember that overcoming an Eating Disorder will take time and is a lengthy process, where motivation and patience play a massive part. Do not be discouraged by slow results,
as long as there’s progress – everything is right and your teenager will soon be able to enjoy a better childhood.