Eating disorders in adolescents have become more common in the last decade. More and more teen victims are suffering from bulimia and anorexia, two of the most common eating disorders affecting teens. Although children can have these disorders, most of those affected are adolescent girls.
Statistics have shown that approximately 10 percent of the US population suffers from one form or another of dysfunctional eating habits; and almost 95 percent are women, with a majority of age between 10 and 20 years. For families with teenage children with these disorders, here are steps that can be taken to address the problem before it gets worse.
1) Seek the help of professionals. Treatment clinics and facilities for people suffering from eating problems can be found almost everywhere. These facilities offer services from psychological counseling to nutritional therapy and medical care.
2) Don’t ignore the signs. If you think your child is a picky eater, you may not address the condition early on, which would be the best time to address the problem. Look for symptoms, such as being overly conscious of body weight, obsession with counting calories and weighing food, distorted perception of your body, uncontrolled eating/dieting, vomiting or purging, and extreme mood swings.
3) Be sensitive to their emotional and psychological struggles. Eating disorders can be triggered by a traumatic experience. Experts have revealed that some people with these disorders have been abused as children. Teenage boys and girls who have experienced failure and humiliation also sometimes overeat or not eat at all as a way to deal with their emotions.
4) Provide a healthy home environment for your child. Family problems cannot be avoided. If there are significant changes within the family that may hurt your teen, talk openly and gently nudge him to express his feelings and reveal his thoughts about the situation. However, avoid being pushy as this is something that teenagers dislike immensely.
5) It encourages their creative abilities. Allowing teens to participate in activities they enjoy and excel at can provide them with a strong emotional and psychological foundation. Encourage them to pursue their hobbies, as long as they don’t cause harm, and don’t force them to meet your personal expectations of them.
Teen eating disorders are not just physical health issues, they are primarily psychological in nature and should be addressed by giving your teen all the love and support they need.