Anorexia, binge eating disorders and bulimia usually surface around adolescence but boys and girls can also show signs of problems much earlier. According to a recent story, if you catch these kinds of problems early on you can prevent a lifelong battle with eating disorders, says Jill Layne, a social worker in Norfolk, VA. Some red flags to watch for in your child are:
- Obsession with weight, such as intense fears of gaining weight, feeling fat when normal sized and if overweight, they become fixated on it.
- Sneaking or hoarding food, watch for discarded wrappers in their room or you notice shame over what they’ve eaten.
- Making excuses for lack of eating with some lines being: ate a big lunch or ate before getting home. Also, may prefer to eat alone.
- Eating and exercising habits go to extremes and they may refuse foods unless they are low-calorie options. They may also alternate between binges on favorite unhealthy foods.
- Appearance may begin to change even if they don’t lose weight. If the child is not receiving enough calories their energy level will drop and their skin and hair will become dry.
If you suspect any of these symptoms and see a problem with your child you should reassure them they are beautiful. Never belittle them or their behavior but do ask why they are feeling insecure. You can brainstorm healthy living together without putting bans on particular foods. Suggest a weekly dessert night in place of a regular or daily supply of sweets and unhealthy foods. Help them find ways for successful living such as sports or clubs and nurture their friendships, too.