15 Warning Signs
Reprinted from Eating Disorders Recovery Today
Summer 2006 Volume 4, Number 3
©2006 Gürze Books
For Parents of High School and Middle School Students.
Be aware of the following symptoms if your child or teen:
- Often makes excuses to avoid family meals or stays away from social situations that involve eating.
- Has rituals to make eating small amounts of food less obvious, such as cutting it into small portions and moving it around on the plate.
- Has great fluctuations in eating—periods of excessive eating cycled with food restrictions.
- Obsessively exercises without enjoyment regardless of bad weather, illness, or injury.
- Signs of vomiting or laxative use; often disappears after eating to go to the bathroom.
- Preoccupation with food and eating, and continued dissatisfaction with body shape.
- Coldness, particularly in the hands and feet, and wearing layers of baggy clothing to hide body, even in warm weather.
- Dental problems or calluses on the knuckles can be signs of vomiting.
- Becomes disgusted with former favorite foods like meat, fats, and desserts, and only eats "safe" foods; or boasts about eating healthfully or as a vegetarian without consuming adequate fats, oils, whole grains, and dense fruits and vegetables (such as potatoes or avocados).
- Frantic fear of weight gain, and repeated attempts to diet.
- Simplistic, black and white thinking, such as "If I am thinner, I will feel better about myself," and envious of thin people in general.
- Has trouble talking about feelings, especially anger, is moody, irritable, and withdrawn more than what is "normal" for a teen.
- Self-harm behaviors, such as cutting, burning themselves, hair pulling, or engaging in risk taking. These can be signs of Borderline Personality Disorder, which may include a combination of eating disorders, substance abuse, alcohol binges, stealing or promiscuity.
- Engages in secretive binge eating, hides food or wrappers, food disappears from the household without explanation, empty food containers in the garbage.
- Girls and boys develop eating disorders and body image dissatisfaction, so watch for these signs in both sexes.