Eating disorders in children and teens cause serious changes in eating habits that can lead to major, even life threatening health problems.
Generally, eating disorders involve self-critical, negative thoughts and feelings about body weight and food, and eating habits that disrupt normal body function and daily activities. People with eating disorders use food to deal with uncomfortable or painful emotions. Restricting food is used to feel in control. Overeating temporarily soothes sadness, anger, or loneliness. Purging is used to combat feelings of helplessness and self-loathing.
Parents can help prevent kids from developing an eating disorder by building their self-esteem and encouraging healthy attitudes about nutrition and appearance. If you become worried that your son or daughter might be developing an eating disorder, it’s important to step in and seek proper medical care.
The dangers of eating disorders
Eating disorders in children and teens can lead to a host of serious physical problems and even death. If you spot any of the signs of the eating disorders listed below, call your child’s doctor right away. Eating disorders are not overcome through sheer willpower. Your child will need treatment to help restore normal weight and eating habits. Treatment also addresses underlying psychological issues. Remember that the best results occur when eating disorders are treated at the earliest stages.
Symptoms to watch out for
- Reduction in portion size
- Social withdrawal
- Menstrual cycle abnormalities in girls
- Fine hair growing on body
- Refusal to eat
- Hiding or hoarding food Weight loss or failure to gain weight in a growing child
- Lack of growth Hyperactivity or excessive movement such as leg jiggling, running around, or standing and refusing to sit still
- Body image concerns
- Thinning hair on head
- Personality changes, usually irritability or depression Anger when offered food
Treatment is actually quite a tough task! However, the disorder needs to be treated promptly, as there are many serious health disorders awaiting at later stages.
- First and the foremost thing is that, parents should not force children to eat even when they are full and also, allow them to eat, whenever they feel hungry.
- Inculcate the importance of a balanced diet, proper height and weight, and regular exercises.
- Teach the importance of positive approach towards other children.
- Let not children starve unnecessarily.
- Stop teasing and criticizing kids for their looks and appearance.
- Most importantly, understand them. They are children, they are not grown up adults, who understand everything! Be aware of the fact that, your young ones are undergoing physical and mental changes and therefore might eat more or less.