Eating disorders are unfortunately very common amongst teens. Due to the biological growth spurt which occurs in this phase of their lives, teens naturally give a lot of thought to their bodies. This coupled with a media obsession of perfection, and of thin lanky bodies may sometimes lead to this sickness with the intent of fitting in and looking good.
Below are some common signs which you might find in most teens. If you are concerned about your teen developing an eating disorder it is best to go to an expert as soon as possible.
Sudden Weight Loss
Puberty or adolescence are usually the stages where the teen goes through a lot of bodily changes and growth and as a result often tends to put on some weight. If your child, on the contrary has suddenly lost weight, then it may be a sign of an eating disorder.
Obsession With Exercise
While maintaining a healthy lifestyle with some physical exercise is definitely ideal, check for signs for obsession with exercise or physical fitness. Eating disorders can be built around compulsive habits, and an obsession with exercise is one of the most common ones. Is your teen insisting on exercise even when they’ve had an especially busy day or been sick? While looking for obsession with working out, also look for anxiety on the thought of missing a work out.
Obsession With Food
People with eating disorders very often develop an obsession with food and all its trappings. For example, you may find them buying a lot of food products, or expressing a desire to go grocery shopping. They may read recipes, cook, or even watch cooking shows.
Sia, 15, suddenly developed a habit of smelling food. Particularly food which were sweet or fried. She would smell them, but not eat them. Later she was diagnosed with Bulimia.
You’ll notice patterns in their eating habits too. They may have a diet which is highly restrictive and strict on calories, and then suddenly it will be a followed by a high calorie, junk food binge and vice versa.
Wondering Too Much About Their Body and Body Image
People with eating disorders believe that the main gauge of other’s approval of them is their body, hence their self worth is often built dependent on their body image. You might find them standing in front of the mirror all too often critically looking upon themselves, or seeing magazines with pictures of “perfect” bodies and becoming anxious that they don’t have bodies like that, they might even be checking their weight multiple times a day after each meal.
Vomiting After Meals
This is a sure giveaway. People with eating disorders will often be found in the toilet after meals, vomiting whatever they have eaten. It starts with doing it after particularly heavy meal, and it ends up becoming a ritual even when they’ve eaten next to nothing.
(Prachi Jain is a psychologist, trainer, optimist, reader and lover of Red Velvets.)
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