Adolescents have some of the highest rates of eating disorders, particularly young girls. While parents are rarely to blame for these illnesses, they are a crucial part of the solution. Catching an eating disorder early on increases the chances of a full recovery. Here are 5 warning signs to look for that may signify your child is developing an eating disorder.
Most parents know to look out for weight loss as a warning sign of an eating disorder, but weight stagnation is also another signs. Our bodies continue to put on weight into our early 20s. If you notice that your child continues to grow but isn’t gaining weight, especially in early adolescence when most growth takes place, they may be in the early stages of an eating disorder.
Being a kid is difficult and stressful, especially as they grow older and have to manage more responsibilities. But if you see an uptick in anxiety that might be a sign they have an eating disorder. Increased anxiety is both a precursor and a byproduct of anorexia nervosa and other eating disorders due to the constant thoughts surrounding food and weight, and the constant worry of keeping it secret.
One sign of an eating disorder is unusual behaviors around food. These changes in how and what they’re eating are usually to mask their decreased food intake. Some common ones include cutting food into small pieces, using large quantities of condiments, cutting out entire categories of food, or insisting on usual particular utensils.
One warning sign of an eating disorder developing is a sudden interest in food. People with eating disorders become obsessed with food, including shopping and cooking it. If you notice your child has a newfound interest in food, but not eating it, that’s a red flag.
Over-exercising is common with eating disorders. If you find your child is building their day around exercise it could be becoming an obsession. If missing their daily exercise routine causes them anxiety, or they insist on doing so even when sick or injured that could be a warning sign.
Many of these warning signs are hard to notice. If your child is exercising more or suddenly loves cooking, that doesn’t mean they have an eating disorder. But as the warning signs start piling up that’s when you should worry. If you’re concerned that your child may have anorexia or may be developing another form of an eating disorder, please contact us. One of our wonderful psychiatrists can help guide you on what to do.