Have you noticed that your daughter has developed unusual eating habits? Avoiding food and meals, playing with her food (moving food around on her plate instead of actually eating it), picking out a few foods and eating them in small amounts, weighing her food or counting calories. Does she exercise excessively? If so, your daughter may be developing an eating disorder. I say "daughter", because eating disorders are more common among females, but males also develop eating disorders.
- 42% of 1st through 3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
- 81% of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat.
- 51% of 9 and 10-year-old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet.
- 46% of 9 to 11-year-old girls are "sometimes" or "very often" on a diet.
- 91% of college students attempted to control their weight through diet.
- 35% of "normal" dieters progress to pathological dieting. Of those, 20 to 25% progress to a partial or full blown eating disorder.
- Americans spend over $40 billion on dieting and diet-related products each year.
3 MOST COMMON TEEN EATING DISORDERS:
- Anorexia nervosa
- Bulimia nervosa
- Binge eating (compulsive eating
Other less common eating disorders include:
- Pica - Eating non-nutritional substances, such as dirt or paint chips
- Rumination - Repeated regurgitation resulting in weight loss
ANOREXIA NERVOSA is one of the most common eating disorders among teens. Anorexic teens starve themselves. They are obsessed with their body image. These teens have a distorted view of themselves. (They see themselves as fat when they are skin and bones.)
- 10% of teens with anorexia nervosa are boys.
- Teen boys are more likely to go undiagnosed and untreated.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
- Teen is on a diet even though he/she is underweight.
- Fear of being fat, and belief that he/she is fat.
- Denial that he/she is underweight.
- Obsession with what he/she eats
- He/she is never hungry.
- Excessive exercising
- Boys have an obsession with looking athletic.
- Avoiding social activities, especially if there will be food.
- Obsession with calories, fat grams, etc.
- Use of medications to keep from gaining weight (diet pills, laxatives, diuretics)
- Menstruation has stopped.
- Feeling out of control
- Role models, such as celebrities, who are excessively thin
- Mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, etc.
- Family members who are overly concerned about weight
- Sports that stress "thinness", such as gymnastics, ice skating, and ballet
- Peer pressure
PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF ANOREXIA NERVOSA:
- Malnutrition and starvation
- Lack of energy
- Susceptible to injury
- Damage to heart, liver, and kidneys
- Lowered blood pressure, pulse, and breathing
- Irregular periods
- Dry, scaly skin
- Low body temperature
- Hair loss
BULIMIA NERVOSA is a serious and potentially life-threatening eating disorder characterized by a cycle of binging and purging (self-induced vomiting).
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS:
- Inability to stop eating
- Secrecy surrounding eating - wanting to eat in privacy
- Disappearance of food
- Going to the bathroom immediately after meals
- Using laxatives, diuretics, and enemas
- Smell of vomit
- Excessive exercise
- Calluses or scars on knuckles or hands (from inducing vomiting)
- Puffy "chipmunk" cheeks caused by repeated vomiting
- Frequent fluctuations in weight
- Poor body image
- Low self esteem
- History of trauma or abuse
- Major life changes
PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF BULIMIA NERVOSA:
- Weight gain
- Abdominal pain or bloating
- Swelling of hands and feet
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness
- Broken blood vessels in the eyes
- Weakness or dizziness
- Tooth decay and mouth sores
- Acid reflux or ulcers
- Loss of menstrual periods
- Chronic constipation
- Heart arrhythmia's (due to potassium loss from vomiting).
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO:
- Listen to your teen's concerns
- If your teen is overweight, see a physician or dietitian for a healthy weight loss program.
- Don't stress over your weight or food
- Eat together
- Grocery shop together
- Encourage healthy eating habits
- Cook together
- Encourage new interests (art classes, volunteering, yoga) to help take the focus off his/her weight
- Be aware of comments you make to your teen. Saying "you've gained weight", even though innocent, can send your teen spiraling out of control.
If you have noticed any of these signs in your teen, and you are concerned he/she may have an eating disorder, it is important to seek professional help.
*Photo courtesy of http://shelovesmagazine.com