Parents worry about their children from the time they are born. They worry about accidents and illnesses when they are young, and whether they are safe when they are away from the home as they get older. Once they reach adolescence worries change, and many parents will be concerned about drugs and alcohol. However, some parents have other concerns including whether or not their child has developed an eating disorder.
The important thing to remember is that eating disorders are rarely just about weight or food. They develop as a coping mechanism for stressful or emotional issues. An eating disorder is generally about a person’s distorted attitude to body image, food, and weight, and their negative feelings towards these things. Those with an eating disorder will use food as a way of dealing with painful emotions.
Eating Disorder Myths
There are many myths associated with eating disorders, and it is these myths that often cause parents to overlook them. Many believe that only those who are underweight can have an eating disorder, but the truth is that many individuals, regardless of their weight and size, suffer from these disorders.
Moreover, while the majority of eating disorder sufferers are female, many young boys and men suffer as well.
It is important to realise that eating disorders are dangerous to health and need to be dealt with as early as possible. An eating disorder can lead to many problems, some of which can be life-threatening.
Signs to Look Out For
It can be difficult to tell if your child has an eating disorder, especially when so many teenagers become conscious about their weight and start changing their eating habits. Nonetheless, if an eating disorder is present, it will soon become easier to detect.
The most obvious sign you may notice is your child beginning to skip meals. He or she may tell you that they are not hungry because they have already eaten. Many will say they ate a big meal in school or at work. You may find that they are constantly complaining that they cannot eat because of an upset stomach.
You may also notice that when he or she does eat, it will only be small amounts of food, and they may only eat foods that are marked as low-calorie. Be on the lookout for diet pills and laxatives as these may be taken as well.
Bingeing is another eating disorder that affects many. Those who suffer from binge eating will do so in secret. They may eat late at night when their parents are asleep. If you notice that large amounts of food seem to be disappearing from cupboards and fridges, or if you find piles of empty food wrappers, you need to be alert to the possibility that your child has an eating disorder.
If your child is suffering from bulimia, he or she will want to purge him or herself after eating by doing a lot of exercise, making themselves sick, or by using laxatives. Some will even fast for a period after eating a particularly large meal. If you notice that your child often disappears to the bathroom as soon as mealtimes have finished, he or she could be making themselves sick.
If you suspect that your child has an eating disorder, there are many places from where you can get help. Many organisations all over the UK provide treatments for all types of addiction and behavioural disorders.
Addiction Helper is a free referral service working to put clients in touch with suitable providers. If you need help, contact Addiction Helper today for more information.