5 Common Warning Signs That Your Child Has an Eating Disorder

childWhenever the subject of eating disorders comes up, we have the tendency to assume that it mostly affects teenage and adult women. And while there are about seven million women in America who do battle with some level of anorexia or bulimia, the reality is that there are many children who struggle with eating disorders too. Several studies indicate that approximately 50 percent of girls between the ages of 11-13 see themselves as being overweight and an alarming 80 percent of children have put themselves on some kind of diet by the time they’ve reached the fourth grade.

This is enough of a reason to know some of the common warning signs that your child may have an eating disorder, just so that you can know what to be on the lookout for before they end up causing themselves some serious physical or psychological harm.

They talk about their appearance a lot. All of us, regardless of age, care about how we look. But if your child appears to speak incessantly about how pretty or thin someone else is or how “ugly” or “fat” that they think they are, it’s a good idea to take special note of it and to also redirect their focus on the kinds of things that do make them a beautiful individual.

They play around with their food. Until a child is an older teenager, it can be difficult for them to actually skip out on meals with the family, but if you notice that your child is pushing food around on their plate or making constant excuses about why they don’t have that much of an appetite, that’s another red flag.

They use the word “diet” in their regular vocabulary. There’s no way around the fact that we live in a culture where people are consumed with dieting. Yet, a child should not be so focused on that word that you hear it in their casual conversation. If they never want ice cream or have a cookie because they are “on a diet” or you notice them on the internet looking for the latest diet trend, that definitely merits sitting them down and having a conversation about the differences between dieting and simply living a healthy lifestyle.

They tend to “starve” and then “purge”. One sign that some people tend to overlook is if their child will eat very small amounts for days and then overeat. Something to keep in mind about those who battle with eating disorders is that they don’t have a healthy view of food and so any kind of action as it relates to it that is extreme needs to be addressed.

They are losing weight (noticeably and quickly). Experts at eating disorder treatment programs will agree that one of the most telltale signs that your child may have an eating disorder is if they are losing weight at a rapid pace. If your child has been shedding lots of pounds, especially in a short period of time, and all of these other signs have also been transpiring, that’s one of the clearest indications that you need to set up an appointment with their physician to see what steps need to be taken to professionally address the matter.

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