How to Spot an Eating Disorder in a Teen
Teen eating disorders are becoming a common problem in our society. With the constant perception that thinner is better, many teens are starving their bodies, and doing damage to their internal organs. Of all the different eating disorders, teen anorexia is the most common. As these problems first start, the teen will try to hide their disorder, but as time progresses signs become more apparent.
Early intervention is essential in the treatment of teen eating disorders. When it is caught in the beginning stages, the learned behavior can be treated easier. As it progresses though, the behavior becomes a vigorous training of the mind and body, and the recovery process becomes far more difficult. When you do go for treatment, you need to show you care and offer support, being confrontational with a sensitive eating disorder such as teen anorexia can have a negative outcome.
The following are different warning signs for an eating disorder. While they are in their early stages they may appear to be healthy dieting, and the individual may look like they are just being concerned about their weight. Watch as this progresses and intervene if necessary.
Restrictive Dieting: While limiting their food intake would be natural on a diet to a point, skipping meals as a whole is a warning sign. In teen anorexia for example, foods your child once loved will make them disgusted. They may simply skip meals on a regular basis as well and increase their intake of water.
At the times they do eat, your teen may only consume very small portions of food. They may even look over the packaging while you are making food, and find a combination of foods that deliver the least amount of calories. As the disease progresses further, diet pills and illegal drugs like speed may be used to help curb the feeling of being hungry.
Bingeing: Bingeing is another one of the teen eating disorders. Instead of limiting their diet, they eat normally around everyone at meals. In private, they will eat comfort foods in bulk. Usually there will be hidden stashes of junk food in their room, and sweets and chips in the kitchen may empty quickly.
Personal Image: When you look at a person with an eating disorder, you can begin to see the signs depending on what their body does. Someone suffering from teen anorexia will rapidly lose weight from their body. At first they may try to conceal this weight loss with baggie clothing, but when they have reached a thinner level will wear more revealing attire. As it progresses further in stages, they will begin to wear clothing that covers them up more to prevent people from seeing their bones.
Weight gain and fluctuating weights are common for binge eating. With all disorders, the individual may spend unhealthy amounts of time in front of a mirror looking over their body and criticizing it as a whole, or specific areas that have some weight to them, even as they grow thinner.
Remember it is important to take the first step in intervention as soon as you notice a teen eating disorder. While many times it could be simple dieting, there is a chance it may be teen anorexia, which can lead to serious health problems.
To recap the following are warning signs every parent should watch for:
* An unnatural focus on body weight
* Calorie watching obsession
* Extreme dieting even when they are thin
* Unexplainable weight loss, or extreme instant weight loss
* Heavy consumption of diet pills and laxatives
* Habitual exercising
* Avoiding eating
* Refusal to go to social events where eating may be required
* Using the restroom after meals
* Secret late night snacking
* Stashing junk food