What is an eating disorder?
An eating disorder is a focus on food and weight that causes a person to go to extremes when it comes to food and eating. Three of the most common eating disorders are binge eating disorder, bulimia, and anorexia. Eating disorders often develop during the teenage years or in early adulthood. They are more common among teenage girls but can affect teenage boys, too. They can be very stressful and damaging to a teen’s overall well-being. The social effects include low self-esteem and isolation. Eating disorders can cause serious health problems that can become life-threatening.
Common eating disorders –
- Binge eating
- Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder in which a person regularly (more than 3 times a week) consumes large amount of food in a short timeframe (called bingeing).
- People who have binge eating disorder are often embarrassed by the amount of food they eat.
- They may hide food for binges. People who have this disorder often try to diet without success or promise to stop eating so much.
- They feel that they can’t control the urge to keep eating large amounts of food. As a result, they tend to become overweight or obese.
- People who have anorexia are obsessed with being thin,they don’t want to eat and they are afraid of gaining weight.
- They may constantly worry about how many calories they take in or how much fat is in their food.
- They may take diet pills, laxatives, or water pills to lose weight. They may exercise too much.
- People who have anorexia usually think they’re fat even though they’re very thin. They may get so thin that they look like they’re sick.
- People who have bulimia eat a lot of food at once (binge), and then throw up or use laxatives to remove the food from the body (called purging).
- After a binge, a person who has bulimia might fast (not eat for a period of time) or exercise excessively to keep from gaining weight.
- They often try to hide their bingeing and purging. They may hide food for binges.
- People who have bulimia are usually close to normal weight, but their weight may go up and down.
What are the signs of an eating disorder?
Watch your teen’s behavior and eating patterns carefully so that you can tell the difference between occasional dieting and an eating disorder.
Signs and symptoms of common eating disorders
Binge eating disorder
- Eating large amounts of food in a short timeframe
- Eating even when not hungry
- Eating to the point of feeling uncomfortable
- Sneaking food
- Hiding food
- Eating alone
- Eating normally during meal times, and then eating large amounts of food when others are not around
- Feeling disgusted, depressed, or guilty after eating large amounts of food
Bulimia eating disorder
- Sneaking food
- Hiding empty containers of food
- Skipping meals or eating only small portion sizes
- Avoiding eating around others
- Vomiting after eating
- Using water pills or laxatives
- Fasting (not eating for a period of time)
- Exercising excessively
Anorexia eating disorder
- Being very thin
- Feeling overweight in spite of being very thin
- Having fear of gaining weight
- Obsessing about food
- Constantly counting calories, carbohydrates, and fat grams
- Creating “food rituals” (for example, chewing each bite a certain number of times)
- Exercising excessively
- Using diet pills, water pills, or laxatives
- In girls, missing periods or having irregular periods
- Feeling cold all the time
- Wearing baggy clothes to hide weight loss
Uncommon eating disorder
- Pica, a widely misunderstood phenomenon, is defined as a compulsive craving for eating, chewing or licking non-food items or foods containing no nutrition.
- These can include such things as chalk, plaster, paint chips, baking soda, starch, glue, rust, ice, coffee grounds, and cigarette ashes.
- It may sometimes be linked to certain mineral deficiencies (i.e., iron or zinc).
- Pica can be associated with, developmental delays, mental deficiencies and/or a family history of the disorder. There may be psychological disturbances that lead to Pica as well, such as conditions in which a child lives in a low-income or poor family, or who lives in an environment of little love and support.
Night eating disorder
- Night Eating Syndrome consists of morning anorexia, evening hyperphagia (abnormally increased appetite for consumption of food frequently associated with injury to the hypothalamus) and insomnia.
- Attempts at weight reduction in these 2 conditions, (referring to bulimia as well), are usually unsuccessful and may cause the patient unnecessary distress.”
- People with Night-eating syndrome are characterized as people that put off eating until late in the day, who binge on food in the evenings and who experience problems with falling asleep and/or staying asleep.
- “People who exhibit NES don’t eat a lot at one sitting, often skip breakfast, and don’t start eating until noon.
Sleep Eating Disorder
- Sufferers tend to be overweight and have episodes of recurrent sleep walking, during which time they binge on usually large quantities of food, often high in sugar or fat. Most often, sufferers do not remember these episodes, putting them at great risk of unintentional self-injury.
- Because of the compulsive nature of this illness, sufferers are at the same physical health risks as those of Compulsive Overeaters with the added risks of sleep walking.
- It is not uncommon to find a person suffering to be anxious, tired, stressed and angry.
How parents can deal with the situation
Talking to your child about their condition can be very difficult, especially if they still can’t accept that they have a problem. However, communication is essential to help with recovery, so keep trying.
When you want to talk to them directly about the eating disorder,Prepare what to say.
- Show your teen that you accept your own body. Don’t complain about your own weight or refer to yourself as fat.
- Show acceptance for different body shapes and sizes. Don’t criticize other people’s weight or physical appearance.
- Teach your teen that the media is not real life. The media shows only thin models and “perfect” people when real people come in all shapes and sizes.
- Avoid commenting on your teen’s weight or physical appearance.
- Provide lots of healthy food options in your home.
- Talk about the benefits of physical activity to stay healthy and strong, not to lose weight.
- Build your teen’s self-esteem and self-respect. Compliment your teen on his or her efforts, ask for your teen’s opinion, and encourage him or her to pursue talents and interests.
- Don’t blame or judge.
- Concentrate on how they’re feeling.
- Stay calm.
- Be prepared for a negative response.
- Emphasise that no matter what, you love them and will always be there for them.
- Try to be patient and listen to what they’re trying to say.
- Your child may come across as angry and aggressive, but bear in mind that they may actually be feeling fearful and insecure.