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An Eating Disorder In A Teenager. What Should A Family Do? - The Quality Of Life
An Eating Disorder In A Teenager. What Should A Family Do? - The Quality Of Life

Video: An Eating Disorder In A Teenager. What Should A Family Do? - The Quality Of Life

Video: An Eating Disorder In A Teenager. What Should A Family Do? - The Quality Of Life
Video: Eating disorders: advice for families 2023, June

Is your daughter increasingly saying that she doesn't feel like eating at all? Refuses high-calorie foods, because he is afraid to get better? Condemns fat girlfriends? Jealous of slim models? And every now and then you wonder if there is a reason for excitement, or is it completely normal for a teenager …

How can you know for sure if your child has an eating disorder and what can you do if you suspect it is? It is not for nothing that these questions worry parents, because adolescents are more susceptible to aggressive social pressure than anyone else.

These days, thinness is a commonly accepted marker of attractiveness, beauty, and even success. People worry about the size and shape of their bodies, massively go on diets, building their meals according to hours and formulas, and at the same time ignore the natural signals of hunger.

It is very difficult for a teenager, whose idea of himself is still being formed, to decide what is right and useful for him, and what is dangerous and harmful. Only the most open, trusting family relationships can help a child avoid an eating disorder. Faced with difficulties, the teenager will not be afraid to share their experiences, difficulties and ask for help.

Strong self-esteem

People with consistent, adequate self-esteem are at much lower risk of developing eating disorders (EID). Children who feel the love and support of their relatives, regardless of personal success and achievements, are much less likely to have destructive eating habits.

Loving, involved parents make an invaluable contribution to the formation of a sense of their own worth and adequate self-esteem in their children. But unfortunately, no one has full control in this matter

Some children are genetically more predisposed to depression and other mood disorders that affect self-esteem. In addition, life circumstances can lead to severe stress and a decrease in self-confidence - the birth of a brother or sister, moving, quarrels, divorce of parents, the appearance of a stepfather / stepmother, violence, bullying at school, difficulties with studies.

Unfortunately, even if you did your best to protect your child from adversity and prevent the development of ADD, no one can guarantee that this will not happen in your family. Do not blame yourself if your daughter's nutritional problems (and girls are more likely to suffer from EPA) do appear.

It's important to keep showing that you love and value her no matter what. Try to maintain as close contact with the child as possible, listen to his fears, fantasies and beliefs, make every effort to really understand his feelings and experiences.

Encouraging creative expression can be an important supportive and healing step in restoring self-esteem. In music, sports, painting, in any hobby that brings the child joy, satisfaction and a sense of success. If this is not the case, do not force you to do "anything", further reducing self-esteem.

Role-playing, not fashion models

Explore your own nutritional settings. Even without long suggestions and conversations on this topic, children perfectly learn our eating habits, ideas and worries about the image of their own bodies. They notice our obsession with "ideal weight", strict diets, grueling workouts, dissatisfaction with physical form.

Our concern about the extra "fat" on their chubby cheeks does not go unnoticed either. Every comment about pizza, chips, sweets, sweet soda - all that "harmful" fatty and sweet food, which the more you prohibit, the more you want.

The task of parents is to set an example for children to have a calm attitude to food. Do not create a cult of food excesses or restrictions. The best solution is a balanced, healthy daily diet, which does not exclude the enjoyment of holiday feasts. Gastronomic experimentation is not prohibited

Maintain and broadcast a healthy criticism of the suggested media standards of beauty. Teach children to accept other people regardless of their weight or build. Tell them that all advertising photos are processed, during which the proportions and shape of the model's body are radically changed. Modern technology allows you to make adjustments and video.

Alarm calls

If you are concerned about your child's eating habits, look for the following signs:

Anorexia nervosa

  • Rapid weight loss.
  • Prolonged absence of menstruation.
  • Compliance with a strict diet, even if there is no excess weight.
  • Fanatical selective food. Avoiding "harmful" foods high in fat, sugar, starchy foods, animal products, processed foods, etc.
  • Avoiding food related activities. For example, refusal to attend holidays with a mandatory feast, hikes and meetings in a cafe, any meetings where a meal is planned.
  • Violation of adequate perception of one's own body shape. For example, a girl claims that she is "fat", with apparently normal or even insufficient body weight.
  • Meticulous calorie counting. Emphasized attention to what and how the food was prepared.
  • Denying hunger. The assertion that hunger is good.
  • Hours of training, exercise, an overactive lifestyle.
  • Frequent weighing.
  • The emergence of strange eating habits. Quirky food choices.
  • Complaints about gastrointestinal problems with regular meals. The use of emetics, diuretics, laxatives.
  • Drinking alcohol, smoking with insufficient nutrition.
  • Choosing baggy clothing to hide thinness.
  • Irritability, poor sleep, obsessive behavior, depression.

Bulimia nervosa

  • Anxiety about body weight.
  • A strict diet that includes alcohol.
  • Overeating against a background of stress, anxiety, troubles.
  • Inability to quit eating high-calorie foods, salty foods, or sweets.
  • Eating food is accompanied by feelings of guilt or shame.
  • Overeating followed by laxatives, emetics, or hours of exercise.
  • Regular use of the toilet or bath immediately after meals.
  • Rapid disappearance after eating.
  • Diligent attempts to keep "food rituals" a secret, such as an overwhelming urge to eat a certain food or deliberately induced vomiting after eating.
  • Feeling of doom and loss of control over eating behavior.
  • Depression, irritability, mood swings, anxiety.
  • Addictive behavior in other areas - shopping, sex, alcohol.

What to do?

A family member's eating disorder affects everyone. Upon noticing warning signs, relatives may feel fear, anxiety, helplessness, irritation, and even anger. They don't know what they can do, how to behave now. Focus on the adolescent's condition and the possibilities for overcoming the ED, your loved one really needs professional help and family support.

Discuss with your child any changes in eating behavior you have noticed and signs of one of the ADDs that bother you.


Be prepared for denial and resistance. For example, a teenager may argue that his behavior is absolutely rational, that he does not need the help of a specialist, since he feels great.

Anorexics may continue to refuse food, arguing that they actually need to lose some more weight. And they can actually feel good about themselves subjectively, as through strict restrictions they provide the desired sense of control. Giving up their established eating habits would mean for them the loss of this feeling.

Talk to your teenager, show him / her background information about the RPF, discuss what you saw. Suggest that you seek the advice of a dietitian first for a healthier diet.

If, despite your best efforts, eating habits remain the same, insist on consulting a therapist or referring to a specialized clinic before the situation becomes life-threatening for your child.


If a teenager is prone to overeating and subsequent emptying of the stomach, he is most likely worried about his own behavior. It is as if he is between a rock and a hard place - the fear of getting better and anxiety associated with an irresistible desire to eat his favorite food.

Such a child is more likely to agree that he needs help and will explore options for getting it. Help him find teaching materials, counseling, and support groups for people with RPD. Don't reject it, even if the eating behavior seems strange or disgusting to you.

Adolescents are reluctant to see a psychologist and find it difficult to overcome limiting beliefs. Therefore, the family may feel that it is enough to consult and be accompanied by a nutritionist to solve the problems associated with RIP. Undoubtedly, this can be an important first step towards recovery.

However, both the adolescent and his family need to understand that deep psychological and personal difficulties associated with self-esteem and problems in relationships always lie behind the RPP. The problems that the teenager managed to cope with on his own was the only way. It is the therapist who can help you deal with these difficulties and develop healthier ways to deal with them.

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