Mealtime Warning Signs: What are Abnormal Behaviors?

September 20th, 2015 by

When a child has an eating disorder, it can be difficult to see all of the behaviors that may be happening at your dinner table.  Here are some behaviors that may indicate there is a problem.

Is your child…

  • Moving food around her plate instead of actually eating?
  • Concerned about what what put in her food?
  • Dissecting food into tiny pieces?
  • Playing with and pushing food around the plate?
  • Taking extremely small bites of food?
  • Eating very slowly?
  • Hiding, dropping or smearing food?
  • Mixing strange combinations of food?

If you begin to notice these behaviors, correct your child with the appropriate prompts.  You can say things such as “Please take a larger bite of food,” or “Our meal needs to be finished entirely in the next ten minutes.”  Rely on your family therapist for extra support on how to manage these behaviors and ways to handle your child’s resistance.  It may be challenging to confront your child’s eating disorder behaviors, but it is essential in their recovery.

Sara Sharnoff Chesley is an in-home eating disorder therapist in Charleston, SC.  For more information, contact her at