As a parent, you're always looking out for your child's well-being.
However, it can be difficult to tell if your son or daughter is suffering from an eating disorder because he or she likely won't disclose that anything is wrong. But your parental instincts tell you otherwise.
Look for the following four signs if you're worried your child might be suffering from an eating disorder:
1. Developing odd food habits
While everyone has their own eating habits, individuals with an ED typically develop specific peculiar ones. During your next family dinner, pay attention to what your child is eating and how.
Children with an ED usually slice their food into smaller portions, Psychology Today explained. They'll also consume large amounts of condiments like ketchup or soy sauce instead of substantial food items.
Your child may also have an ED if he or she cuts out an entire food category for no apparent reason, although you have to be careful to not mistake this decision as a path toward vegetarianism.
2. Increase in anxiety
Children developing an ED normally display higher levels of anxiety than you're used to seeing as a parent, usually when they're around food. They may object to eating more vocally than you're used to.
But how do you know if an ED is causing anxiety? Your child may display unusual behaviors before or after noticeable changes in weight. If your child starts obsessing over food and weight, particularly in public, it could be a sign of anorexia.
3. Obsession over exercise
Children with an ED usually develop an obsession surrounding their weight and body image. If your child is compulsive about exercise, it could be because of an ED, Psych Central advised. But you'll have to be careful not to mistake a love for fitness with exercise driven by an ED.
Exercise, coupled with decreased food intake, can be harmful to your child's health. Additionally, strenuous exercise lasting more than one hour every day isn't normal. An obsession with exercise can be linked to greater anxiety — children who panic over missing exercise, even when hurt or tired, may have an ED, according to the Anxiety and Depression Society of America.
4. Fluctuations in weight
Signs of an early stage ED center around weight gain and loss. Children normally add weight through their early adolescent years and into early adulthood. If your child is growing but not adding weight, it could be because of an ED.
Weight loss is also a worrisome sign, especially if your son or daughter is always talking about the need to lose weight. An ED may actually worsen because children feel they need to continually shed weight.
The above signs are just a few signals your child might be developing an ED. As a parent, be on the lookout for such indicators, so you can help your daughter or son overcome an ED.
If you know someone who is dealing with an eating disorder, call Fairwinds Treatment Center. Dr. Pauline Powers specializes in eating disorder treatment and embodies the same values Fairwinds Treatment Center has had for over 25 years: focusing on the whole patient. Here, you can rest assured that your loved one is in capable, compassionate hands.