Suspecting that your teenager may have an eating disorder is scary and uncomfortable. You want your teen to be safe and healthy, but you may also be afraid that if you approach the subject in the wrong way you will make the situation worse. The first step is knowing what signs to look for to help determine that your teen has an eating disorder:
Drastic Changes in Weight
Some fluctuations in weight can be explained logically, such as a teen losing a bit of weight after taking up a new sport or gaining a few pounds as a side effect of a new medication. If their weight seems to be fluctuating often and dramatically, they may have an eating disorder. Eating disorders can result in rapid weight loss, followed by weight gain as the body adapts or your child changes their behavior temporarily.
Preoccupation With Weight Loss
Another common indicator that your teenager is experiencing disordered eating is a sudden preoccupation with their weight and setting weight loss goals. While a teen deciding to become healthier and more fit is often a positive thing, a teen becoming obsessed with the number on the scale may be much more troubling. Many individuals facing eating disorders focus all of their energy and thoughts on unrealistic or unhealthy weight goals. They may constantly weigh themselves, mention their weight often, and get very upset if they gain a pound or two.
Rigid Attitudes About Food and Exercise
Similarly, many teens with eating disorders will display unusually rigid and strict attitudes about food and exercise. They may begin weighing their food, obsessively counting calories, and sticking to unusually difficult workout regimens that take time away from their studies and friends.
Severe Mood Swings
While teens and mood swings can certainly go hand-in-hand under normal circumstances, when a teen demonstrates the other behaviors on this list and their moods also seem over all the place, this can be a major sign that they have an eating disorder. Lack of sufficient vitamins and calories can translate to anxious, angry, and unusually tired moods since brains and emotions need adequate nutrition to function properly.
If you notice these signs, it is time to talk to your teen in a compassionate way. It is also time to get help from a professional treatment program, where your teen can get the emotional and medical support they need to overcome their disordered eating. You can click here for more info about anorexia treatment programs.