With so much emphasis in the media and in everyday life on how you look, it is easy to understand why so many teens start to develop an unrealistic expectation of what they should look like, or more specifically, how much they weight. It is no big secret that eating disorders most often start in the adolescent years. However, most parents who have a child that is struggling from an eating disorder will miss the signs until the symptoms are so obvious that they cannot be missed, such as extreme weight loss or not eating at all. If you are a parent who is concerned that your child has an eating disorder, there are a few often-missed signs that you should be aware of to help you out.
Your teen eats quickly and leaves the table right after a meal.
At this age, kids are usually on the run to this activity or the next, which means if they scarf down their food quickly and then leave immediately after, it is easy to assume they are only in a hurry to get where they need to be. However, this kind of behavior can also be indicative of bulimia. People who are struggling with bulimia will try to regurgitate their food before it goes through the digestion process, which means they have to act quickly after a meal to fully eliminate the contents of their stomach.
Your teen suddenly starts to go through massive amounts of food.
Binge eating is a symptom of both bulimia and anorexia, but at a time when a child's appetite fluctuates from one day to the next, you may never notice if a large amount of food goes missing from the fridge or pantry. Someone struggling from anorexia will sometimes go so long without eating that when they do finally eat, they devour large amounts of food and then will usually get rid of it by vomiting. Bulimia often ties in with the same sort of behaviors.
Your teen avoids activities that involve food.
When you think about how food fits in with so many different activities, whether it is simply watching a movie and eating snacks or going on a family picnic, it is easy to see why someone struggling with an eating disorder would be intimidated. If your teenager seems to avoid situations that would normally involve food, it could be a sign that you will miss because these same behaviors can be associated with social anxieties.
For more information, contact a program like Eating Disorder Treatments by Center for Change.