A Parent’s Guide To: Recognizing An Eating Disorder & Getting Help

A Parent’s Guide To: Recognizing An Eating Disorder & Getting Help
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Eating disorders are serious and potentially life-threatening conditions. They can also be difficult to diagnose because they often involve symptoms that may seem unrelated to weight, such as depression, anxiety, or other emotional issues.

Eating disorders are serious and potentially life-threatening conditions. They can also be difficult to diagnose because they often involve symptoms that may seem unrelated to weight, such as depression, anxiety, or other emotional issues.

Signs of an eating disorder include:

  • Preoccupation with food — children who have an eating disorder may talk about food all the time or be obsessed with counting calories. They may also make frequent comments about their weight or appearance and discuss wanting to be thinner or prettier.
  • Missing meals or having very small portions of food at meals because they think it will help them lose weight faster (this can lead to malnutrition).
  • Constantly weighing themselves, often multiple times a day, and becoming distressed if they think they’ve gained weight even though their clothes still fit the same way and their body mass index (BMI) hasn’t changed.
  • Vomiting after meals or forcing oneself to vomit because one feels uncomfortably full after eating only a small amount of food or is fearful of gaining weight from overeating; in addition, some people with anorexia nervosa may use laxatives (medications that cause bowel movements) to cause themselves to lose more weight than is normal for their age and height. Some people with anorexia nervosa also exercise excessively for long periods of time in order to burn off extra calories and reduce their body weight further.

If you notice any of these signs in your child — especially if he or she is secretive about food intake — it’s time to talk with your doctor about getting help for your child.


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Anna Daniels

Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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