When anorexia and bulimia are mentioned, the first though on everybody’s mind is, "It won’t happen to my child, he/she is smart and knows better than that.” Well it happened to me, and let me tell you something. It’s an illness like any other and being smart and knowing better than that has nothing to do with anything, because I had been both and still failed to see my real reflection in the mirror. However, I will not turn this into a personal, sad confession. But I have to say that the person I have to thank for being here and writing this right now is my mom, who realized what’s going on before things got out of hand. I’m not trying to scare you or anything but, please, read the list of signs I’ve tried to compile because, when it comes to these things, it’s always better to be safe then sorry.
If your child is "not hungry,” has "been invited to her friend’s house for dinner,” or has "just ate at school" every time the family is supposed to gather for a meal together, take this as a warning sign and pay close attention to his/her behavior and eating schedule. I know I’ve used every excuse there is in the book to prevent my parents realizing that a full meal doesn’t fit in my anorexic “apple and a thin piece of toast” daily routine.
As you probably know, the opposite from anorexia, the state in which a person is eating very little, is bulimia, an eating disorder that causes the person to eat large amounts of food and satisfy the cravings, only to throw them up later due to the feeling of guilt. A teenager suffering from bulimia is probably going to wait until you go to bed or go out to start the overeating followed by throwing up routine. A bulimic person feels guilty for eating and will not just throw up to feel better but also hide all the evidence of their “crime.” So keep an eye on your fridge/pantry and, if you notice a there is lot of things missing, inspect the trash can as well as other dark corners that could be used for stashing wrappers.
Exercising and eating healthy food can be a good way for your teen to cope with real weight issues, and to just stay healthy. However, if a child that has not been very “sporty” or has hated even the smell of healthy food, suddenly starts obsessing with exercises and eating right, take it as a warning sign. I, for example, started exercising for all the right reasons and ended up doing exhausting 2-3 hour-long routines (that further drained my already weak body) for all the wrong ones.
You can find a lot about a person and their eating habits by paying close attention to the way that person speaks about food. Both anorexics and bulimics blame food for all of their problems and are quite loud when it comes to speaking their mind.
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People suffering from an eating disorder can develop different personalities to help them battle the feeling that they are doing something wrong. So a child could suddenly become needy, and want to hear other people’s opinions and very open discussions and people that justify his/her behavior or, it can develop a rebellious “I can take care of myself” attitude. He or she can suddenly become very fond of your friend that is picky about food or constantly complaining about weight problems or refuse to eat the “unhealthy” food prepared by you.
A child with this problem will probably distance herself from the old friends and start searching for a more supportive environment. Girls usually team up with other weight-obsessed girls, while boys adopt the rebellious “nobody understands me” attitude and start hanging out with other troubled teens.
The obvious signs of malnutrition caused by an eating disorder are: dull, grayish looking skin, bad hair and nails and a generally “exhausted/weak” look. Feeling dizzy and even passing out are also a very important warning signs, so don’t take this lightly and think that “the poor kid probably had a rough day at school."
Hope this helped and I hope you and your child would never have to go through this. And for all of you ex-anorexic or ex-bulimic ones, drop me a comment, I really want to hear your story and how you managed to snap out of it.
Top Photo Credit: ! *S4N7Y* !
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