If you think your child may be suffering from adolescent eating disorders, you are likely experiencing a range of emotions. Worry, fear, guilt, sadness—it’s a lot to process. However, understanding how to spot the signs of disordered eating can help you know if it’s time to connect your child with professional services. Once you’ve identified a problem, you can work with a qualified therapist. Your therapist will develop a therapeutic game plan to help your child and put your mind at ease.
But how can you determine if your pre-teen is just a picky eater, going through a typical phase, or dealing with a dangerous eating disorder? Here are six ways to spot the signs your adolescent may have a problem:
#1: Displays excessive body insecurity
It’s common for adolescents to feel insecure about their changing bodies. However, if you witness your child continually complaining about being fat or ugly, take notice. An extremely self-critical pre-teen is more susceptible to issues with eating disorders.
#2: Avoids social scenarios that include food
Does your child try to avoid family gatherings or restaurant outings with friends or family? This could indicate a problem. It’s common for adolescents with eating disorders to turn down events and outings that involve food or eating. This is because they may not like it when people watch them eat, or they may not want the social pressure of feeling like they should eat.
#3: Spends a lot of time in the bathroom after meals
If your adolescent immediately heads to the bathroom or public restroom after eating, this is a red flag indicating they may be purging, which is a symptom of bulimia. Individuals with bulimia may make themselves vomit or use laxatives to compensate for calories they have eaten.
#4: Hides food
Have you found a stash of hidden food in your child’s room? While many pre-teens like to keep food in their rooms, they may be trying to hide a binge-eating disorder if it seems like they are being secretive. If you find a stash and see other symptoms of binge-eating or purging, be aware this could signal a problem.
#5: Exercises excessively
Taking workouts to extremes can be a way adolescents attempt to compensate for their food intake. If you feel like your child may be obsessed with exercising or doing it in a way that seems unsafe, it may be time to get professional help.
#6: Restricts food intake
Whether the child is skipping meals or seems obsessive about counting calories, these could be signs of disordered eating. It’s okay for pre-teens to be interested in nutrition. However, intervention may be necessary if they are overly rigid about ingredients and calories.
Find a Therapist You Can Trust for Your Adolescent
Looking for a therapist who has experience with eating disorders in adolescents? Jessica Bassett, a Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist at Positive Living Psychotherapy, specializes in Family-Based Treatment (FBT) to treat adolescents with eating disorders. If you are concerned your child may be suffering from an eating disorder, she offers caring counseling services and provides a safe, judgment-free zone to help your child heal and develop skills to last a lifetime.
Call 770.552.0333 to schedule an appointment with Jessica at Positive Living Psychotherapy. You can count on receiving effective counseling services to diagnose and treat adolescent eating disorders.