SIGNS YOUR TEENAGER MAY HAVE AN EATING DISORDER
So you know eating disorders are serious and increasingly prevalent. Untreated, they can lead to serious and possibly fatal medical problems, including heart arrhythmia, tachycardia, and heart attacks. Among psychiatric disorders, eating disorders have the highest fatality rate.
Peak onset for eating disorders is during adolescence and early adulthood, and early intervention is key. Research has shown that treatment outcomes are best if the condition is identified, and treated at the earliest opportunity within the first three years of the illness.
But do you know what signs to look for?
Below are some red flags for eating disorders. Presentations for eating disorders can depend a lot on the individual and all of these don't need to be present.
1. BODY INSECURITY
Do they seem negative or obsessive about their body size or shape. have you noticed they have persistent worries or complaints about being 'fat' or the need to lose weight? (Note: eating disorders are possible without body insecurity.)
2. EXCESSIVE EXERCISE
Do they seem obsessive about getting daily exercise? Do they exercise even when injured, tired, or poorly?
3. FEAR OF EATING IN FRONT OF OTHERS
Are they starting to avoid situations that include eating in front of others or in public? Making excuses about not being able to eat with friends or family?
4. VICARIOUS PLEASURE IN OTHERS’ EATING
Do they enjoy baking or prepares elaborate meals for others but rarely eat what they make?
5. CHANGES IN APPEARANCE
Have you noticed changes in their weight? noticeable loss, gain, or fluctuation? Puffy cheeks due to swollen salivary glands? abrasions on the knuckles? Hair thinning or breaking?, dry hair or skin, or excessive facial or body hair?
6. PHYSIOLOGICAL CHANGES
Have you noticed a change in their sleeping patterns? Are they cold all the time, or feeling cold, faint or tired ? have their periods become sporadic or stopped?
7. EXCESSIVELY RESTRICTING FOODS
Have they started to considers certain foods or food groups completely off limits.? Have they become preoccupied with dieting, fat grams, carbs or calories? Do they seem to equate eating with control? Do they seem to have lost interest in food?
8. EXCESSIVE FEAR
Have they they started to avoid certain foods for fear of choking or fear of purging?
9. OVERCONSUMPTION OF FOOD
Have you noticed they consume very large amounts of food , or do they seem out of control or unaware during these binge-eating episodes? Do they show a pattern of eating when not hungry and seem to eat to the point of discomfort?
Someone with an eating disorder may try to compensate for eating through vomiting, laxative or diuretic abuse, or other substances. Have you noticed your teenager leaving the table soon after a meal? spending longer in the bathroom?
11. SECRETIVE EATING
Have you noticed large amounts of food disappearing over short periods of time or found wrappers or containers that might indicate secret consumption of large quantities of food?
12. EATING RITUALS
Have you noticed them obsessively cutting food into small pieces , arranging food to create the appearance of actually eating or just pushing food around the plate while little or no food is consumed?
Have they started to withdraw from their friends or usual activities? Do they isolate and gets moody or defensive around meals or when food is discussed? Maybe they've begun to make excuses about not being able to eat with their friends or joining in with family occasions.
If someone you care about has a changed relationship with food, is skipping meals, making excuses for not eating, has adopted an overly restrictive diet, or has begun to focus obsessively on eating, consider the possibility of an eating disorder. Express your concerns in a forthright, caring manner. Gently but firmly encourage the person to seek trained professional help.