What are the warning signs of an eating disorder? Part One.

August 16th, 2015 by

Decoding the behavior of teenagers can be challenging enough without the added stress of identifying disordered eating patterns.  How can parents tell if their child needs help? Some warning signs of eating disorder behaviors are listed below. 

  • Obsession with body image

If you find your teenager constantly talking about her body in a negative way, or spending an excessive amount of time in the mirror nitpicking certain body features, your child may be at risk.  They may comment that they are fat or dissatisfied with their appearance.  Some teenagers will begin to idolize certain celebrities’ bodies and compare themselves to photoshopped images. Other teenagers may try to conceal their body shape by wearing baggy clothing.

  • Abnormal weight fluctuation

Teenagers are still growing and it is normal that their weight will fluctuate, but if your child begins to lose drastic amounts of weight or weighs less than 85% of their ideal body weight, it is imperative to take them to their physical for further examination.  Teenagers who struggle with Bulimia Nervosa may stay at their ideal body weight or even above their ideal body weight so it can be more challenging to detect.

  • Changes in eating patterns

Has your child been skipping meals, stating excuses such as “I’m not hungry, I already ate?”  Perhaps your teen is eating very slowly, or cutting her food into tiny portions, or hiding food and then throwing it away.  Perhaps she simply stops eating altogether, or you notice that she is binging on certain foods.  One of the key signs of bulimia is vomiting after meals, so if your daughter disappears to the bathroom following each meal, that is a warning sign that she may have a problem.

Stay tuned for part 2 to learn more signs of a potential eating disorder.

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