Growing up has always been difficult for a teenager, but as a parent we’ll have grown up in an age without the pressures of social media, where the likes of trolling is rife. Today, teens have so much to think about, or at least they think they do.
Weight has always been something teens are self-conscious about, particularly in a world where we all have to be Instagram perfect. In fact, in 2019 a study found that over 50% of teens felt that after using the app they needed to create the perfect image.
That’s leading to higher cases of eating disorders, which can be extremely harmful not just in the short term to a teen’s life, but for the rest of their life too. Visit recovery centres like Banbury Lodge, a specialist centre for the likes of anorexia and purging disorder, are seeing more young people checking in for binge eating disorder treatment than ever before. But there are also a lot of teens out there not getting treatment.
It’s an issue many parents are worrying about these days, so if you think something is wrong, look out for these five signs that could be a big clue they may be struggling with an eating disorder…
Rapid weight fluctuation
Of course, one of the easiest signs to spot is if your teen is experiencing rapid weight loss or weight gain. While growth spurts can contribute to weight fluctuations, eating disorders can cause quite alarming drops over a really short period of time. The likes of purging and binge eating can be incredibly problematic and such rapid loss and gains can cause severe health problems.
Obsessions with dieting
Just as alcoholics will constantly talk about going to the pub or needing a pint, you may find that someone with an eating disorder has a bit of an obsession with the latest diets or calorie counting. In reality, your child shouldn’t really be worrying too much about fad diets, and an obsession with them is certainly an unhealthy one, however enthusiastic they may be about it.
It can be the sign of some extreme anxiety around their eating and weight and is something that needs addressing, often with professional help.
They start being more secretive around eating and exercise
To counter that, they may also go into their shell a little more and start being secretive around certain elements of their life, notably eating and body-related activities such as exercise.
Alongside this, they may have started to develop an eating disorder as a result of bullying, which will leave them low on confidence. It may be that they stop wanting to see certain friends and stop talking about them, which is something else to note.
If you believe your teen is hiding something from you, it is important to address, but in a calm, caring and understanding manner.
Their physical and mental health is struggling
Naturally, if a person isn’t getting the nutrients they need, then it’s going to have a noticeable effect on their health. You’ll see a physical change in them, from brittle hair and nails to duller skin.
If they are also feeling fainter and experiencing dizziness and fatigue then there’s certainly reason to worry.
You’ll also start to notice emotional changes and them perhaps acting out of character, with mood swings, irritability and being withdrawn common traits among those suffering with an eating disorder.
Eating patterns will undoubtedly change
Like severe weight loss or gain, changing eating patterns is also noticeable, especially when you’re the one putting the food on the table. Skipping meals is a common trait, while visiting the bathroom straight after meals is also something to be wary of.
Hiding food and their wrappers in unusual places is also another solid sign that’s something wrong, and it’s always best to discuss the matter with your teen, as chances are, they will need your help at what is already a difficult period of growing up.
Guest Author Bio
Adam is an avid gamer and loves baking. As well as spending time in the kitchen, in his spare time, he enjoys reading, writing and spending time with his family.