What are the signs of an eating disorder? Part Two.

August 16th, 2015 by

If you missed the first half of this post, click here. 

  • Changes in beliefs around food

It is not uncommon for a teenager  with an eating disorder to begin eliminating certain types of food.  Sometimes teens become vegetarians, or only eat organic food, or become preoccupied with “good” vs. “bad” foods.

  • Changes in physical activity

They may become preoccupied in physical fitness and spend hours exercising in a ritualistic, rigid manner. They may talk about the number of calories that they burned and the time they spent exercising. They may become perturbed if their exercise routine is disrupted and eat even less to compensate.

  • Changes in mood

Parents often describe their teens are exhibiting signs of irritability, anxiety, and depression. Teens with eating disorders often isolate and decrease their socialization due to lack of interest or an increase of panic attacks/social anxiety.  As the re-feeding process begins, teenagers often report a decrease in these symptoms.

  • Changes in health/body

Your child may become very dehydrated or experience fainting.  Teens with eating disorders often have chapped lips, hair loss, graying skin, or an increase of body hair. Frequently feeling cold, even in warmer months, is often a warning sign as well. They may also experience gastrointestinal problems, constipation, an absence of periods and disrupted sleep patterns.  Without proper nutrition, teens often feel a lack of energy and typically have low blood pressure. Teen who binge often have dental issues so it is important to have a good dentist who can alert you to any abnormal dental erosion.  

There are numerous warning signs that your child could have an eating disorder, and it is also imperative to use your gut and intuition.  If your child’s behavior is raising a red flag, take notice.  The sooner a child receives help for an eating disorder, the higher the chances are that she will make a full recovery.  Do not take your daughter’s word for it, and she may honestly believe that is she fine and does not need help.  If she is restricting food, her brain is not functioning properly and she needs an adult to take over and advocate for her recovery.

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