Parents are always careful about their kid’s food habits and diet. Still, you might come across situations when your suggestions and effort to make your child eat well fails. Especially, in teenagers this problem may pop up owing to some perceptions they develop in society and in their circle. As a parent, you should be watchful enough to protect your child from unrealistic perceptions that alter their eating habits leading to an unhealthy food habit.
Warning Signs of Eating Disorder
You may find your child fussy about eating one thing or the other. It seems that they don’t like a particular food and hence you should think of some other option. But, actually, this could be a sign of eating disorder. Some of the signs are listed below:
- Rapid weight loss
- Fear of gaining weight
- Always denial of feeling hungry
- Sneakily throwing food in dustbin or hiding lunch boxes
- Extensive exercising
- Avoiding a particular type of food
- Disturbed sleep
- Depression, frustration, being lonely
Types of Eating Disorder in Teenagers
Anorexia nervosa: Eating very less causing rapid loss of weight. The child also fears weight gain and avoid a number of foods.
Bulimia Nervosa: Eating lots of high calorie food at a time followed by aggressive attempts to exercise and compensate for that. The bingeing episode comes with a sense of shame and eating alone.
Eating Disorder not Otherwise Specified: It has different eating symptoms and is the most common form of eating disorder. Sometimes bingeing accompanied by not eating at all other times.
Causes of Eating Disorder
There are many factors leading to increasing incidents of eating disorders in teenagers. There is a social tendency of judging people by appearance and in teenage, when everyone wants to look best, kids choose unhealthy habits to lose weight and look skinny. Media and advertising has also led to a fixed belief on best body shapes which are less in weight. Also, the fear of being bullied or getting adult leads teenagers to try everything that keeps their body growth in limit. Most importantly, parents are the role model of children and today children grow in an environment where they find their own parents trying every hard thing to lose weight and be thin.
How can a parent help?
Home is where a child gets first education and the impact of family members are incomparable. Also, children imitate what their parents do, so as a parent you can help your child a lot in recovering from food disorder.
- Build respect and a healthy relationship with food : Don’t level food as good or bad because when they eat something called “bad”, it develops a sense of guilt.
- Motivate your child to feel good about their body shape: Don’t tease or criticize the body shape of your child. Teach them that every body size is functional and well-designed and try to inculcate healthy exercising habits.
- Encourage Self-Esteem: Try to develop identity and self-worth in your child so that they cope up well with world in different situations. They should be able to defend themselves when someone targets their body shape.
- Develop awareness on media projections: Let you child develop critical thinking on what TV and media conveys about body shapes. Make them think realistically and differentiate between what is real and what is scripted projection.
Seek Professional Help
If you find significant changes in the physical and mental attributes of your child and your efforts are not working, it’s time to seek professional help for eating disorder treatment. A little counselling, group support, and close communication can help get your child back to normal food habits.