Warning Signs for Eating Disorders in Teen

Warning Signs for Eating Disorders in Teen

Eating Disorders in Teens

For any mom, much of her energy is spent in ensuring that her child receives proper nourishment because after all nutrition does play a seminal role in determining growth, especially in children. While many moms gear up adequately for the battle during the initial stages, few are prepared for its extension when the child grows up into a teen.

By that time, isn’t the child too old to look after his own dietary needs? Logically yes, but it is also a phase when children are old enough to become conscious of their appearance and develop sufficient sensitivity to react to criticisms. Thus, an overweight teenager slipping into a crash diet or a depressed teen binging on food are all too common cases and much more difficult to handle than childhood tantrums.

Common Eating Disorders in Teenagers

In order to be able to recognize warning signs of eating disorders, first it is essential to gain cognizance of the types as also their manner of manifestation. Eating disorders in teenagers could be anorexia nervosa, bulimia or binge-eating. An important point that should be borne in mind by parents is that these are just broad categories and symptoms need not always conform to a particular disorder.

Anorexia nervosa is a condition in wherein the teenager is particularly conscious of putting on weight and when this borders on obsession the problem manifests itself in form of compulsive dieting and exercising. On similar lines is bulimia wherein the teenager binges on a large quantity of junk food and then purges it out of the body through unnatural means like vomiting or laxatives. Binge eating occurs when the teenager eats like a glutton with no signs of control or realization.

Recognizing the Warning Signs

The first sign pointing towards an eating disorder pertains to meals, meaning eating less or not eating at all, deliberately purging and exercising beyond all limits. As a parent if you observe that your teenager is sticking to certain foods and strictly controlling portions, then there is certainly something wrong. In addition, teenagers suffering from eating disorders also tend to visit the bathroom after meals and consciously steer clear of situations wherein they might be required to eat more than usual.

Combining inflexibility in eating habits with much too frequent physical exercise is a clear warning sign of an eating disorder in making. Some of the other symptoms that are indicative of eating disorder are depression, withdrawal, feeling cold and numb and lack of sleep. If forced to eat, then they even tend to react aggressively and may simply explode like a volcano.

Causes and Remedies

There are a horde of factors that could lead to eating disorders and most of them pertain to inheritance, environment and traumatic or difficult experiences in life. Most of teenagers resort to manipulation of eating habits when they come under emotional stress while hormonal changes have also known to contribute.

Having observed signs of eating disorder in your teenager, you as a parent could make a beginning by helping your child to open up to you regarding his/her feelings and emotions. Secondly, parents must make it a point to feign ignorance to the change in eating pattern and focus instead on their child. Thirdly, once the disorder sets in it takes more than emotional support to get the teenager back on track which is why seeking professional help is a must.

Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad