Facts Straight From An Expert
It is safe to say that a sizable portion of the world’s population has had or still has an eating disorder. We’ve asked Janet Earl, a Clinical Psychologist, to answer some of the most common and pressing questions about the topic. Read on to find out some excerpts.
What Are the Signs That Parents Should Look for?
Well, that is actually a pretty interesting question. But, we have to look at it on a case-by-case basis simply because there are a lot of eating disorders. The 3 most common is Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and the Binge Eating Disorder (based on the DSM 5).
As parents, you should observe your child for any warnings. Some of the things that you should look for are:
- Being too restrictive when it comes to the foods that they eat
- The refusal to eat certain types of foods
- Frequent trips to the bathroom after eating
- Social Withdrawal (one of the early warning signs)
- Increased thoughts about food
- Exercising too much
- Increased Tiredness
- Sudden Mood Changes, especially irritability
What Is Binge Eating?
Among the three common eating disorders mentioned above, binge eating is actually the most common. This eating disorder is characterized by the excessive eating of food along with preoccupation to the thought of food.
People are more prone to binge eat if their family or friends are doing it, if they were exposed to too many foods at an early age, or if the child is suffering from extreme psychological distress and only food can comfort them (also known as Stress Eating).
The age to which this disorder would manifest starts during the teenage years up to middle adulthood.
How Do I Prevent My Children From Having Any Eating Disorder?
You have to help them establish a healthy relationship with food. You have to talk to them about what the different foods are, what their roles are in their diets, and you also have to educate them properly.
One quote that I live by is “you eat to live”. Also, encourage them at a younger age to eat healthy foods. I know that it is quite a struggle for parents to have their kids eat fruits and vegetables, but there are actually some “life hacks” that will help their children eat more fruits and veggies like presenting them in a kid-friendly way, educating them about the nutrients it provides, etc.
How Do I Build ‘Body Confidence” In My Young Teenager?
When your kid has low self-esteem (something that is common in kids that have eating disorders), they will most likely have a skewed perception of what body confidence really is.
It is important that you, as the parent, help them build self-esteem. Help them see their bodies in a way that they are encouraged to make healthy food choices.
Are Boys Also Susceptible To Eating Disorders?
To be honest, eating disorders do not discriminate. It can affect people at a young age and it can also affect no matter what gender you have.
That being said, boys are more prone to binge eating disorders than other types of eating disorders out there. They might develop body dysmorphic disorder which is characterized by the perceived lack of muscle/the thought that their bodies are still quite small, even though it really isn’t. This can lead to an increase in weight which can lead to even more body image and self-esteem problems. An issue that carries both these variables, especially for boys is issues in the bedroom (on how to last longer in bed), which can affect their relationships with partners, consequently putting even further burden on their mental health.
The best way to deal with this is to help them understand that they’re already binge eating and you have to raise their awareness through education and even intervention as well.