Does Your Teen Have An Eating Disorder?

Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge eating can be hard to detect in teens because they often go to great lengths to hide their actions.  As a parent, you can look for certain red flags of an eating disorder and get professional help for your teen before the disorder gets too advanced.  You will have a better chance of reaching your teen if intervention is undertaken early.   But, first of all, does your teen have an eating disorder?  What are the common signs?


All eating disorders have common warning signs, and you should take notice if your teen starts exhibiting these signs or behaviors on a regular basis.  People with eating disorders have an obsession with weight gain.  They will obsessively count calories, read food labels, and are constantly dieting, even if they are already thin.  They frequently skip meals with others, avoiding social situations where food is involved.  If bulimic or a binge eater, they hide food and eat large amounts of food in secret.  Bulimics may eat food normally, but then purge themselves immediately afterwards, or take laxatives or diet pills.  They may exercise compulsively.


Teens with eating disorders often have associated problems of stress, anxiety, distorted body image, and depression.  It is important to get professional help in the form of specialists such as mental health experts, doctors, counselors, and nutritionists to help your teen cope with the mental and physical aspects of their disorder.  The question of “does your teen have an eating disorder” should be addressed the moment you see the first warning signs.  Catching and treating your teen early will provide for a better chance of recovery.

Why Do Teens Develop Eating Disorders?

As you may recall, being a teenager comes with highs and lows that can be difficult to understand. For some teens, severe lows can be hidden from view in the form of an eating disorder. While this particular problem may not be uncommon, it is often difficult for parents to understand why it occurs. What are the causes of eating disorders in teens and what can you do to prevent or correct them?

Eating disorders are a tricky subject because they typically do not have one root cause. Some teens can be negatively affected by social pressures to maintain an unrealistic weight and figure, while others may suffer from deeper problems (psychological/emotional) that manifest in the form of an eating disorder. It is even possible that some individuals’ genes put them at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder.

While the causes of eating disorders in teens may not be concrete, there are ways that you can help your teen before an eating disorder becomes a regular part of their life. Making healthy eating habits clear by having good meals together as a family is a great way to provide the earliest model for your kids. Also, focusing on personal achievements instead of their physical appearance may help guide their focus away from social pressures and standards of “beauty”.

Whether your teen has or has not developed an eating disorder, it is important to be unconditionally loving and supportive of your teen. Good communication and professional help are two of the most crucial elements than can help your child fight an eating disorder.

If you have children, you want the very best for them. In order to provide more support, you need to take the time to establish good communication. The causes of eating disorders in teens can be societal, biological, or medical. By teaching healthy eating habits and staying in-touch with your child, you can give them a better chance at a healthier life.

What Causes An Eating Disorder?

When a child is diagnosed with an eating disorder parents naturally have many questions. Can peer pressure cause an eating disorder? Did I do something to cause this? Eating disorders are complex medical problems characterized by irregular eating habits, distorted body image, and several related anxieties. The complex nature of these disorders makes pinning down a single cause very difficult; though similarities in the manifestation of eating disorders exist it is hard to say for certain why some people develop these disorders and others do not.

There is no doubt that peers play a major role in the life of any teenager or young adult. Peer groups can influence interests and behaviors for good or ill. However, rather than saying that peer pressure directly causes a person to develop an eating disorder it might be more accurate to say that peer pressure can create a degree of anxiety that a person feels unable to manage on their own. In an effort to cope with the anxiety surrounding peer interactions (among other things) a person may “act in” by restricting food intake, binging, or exercising obsessively.

So can peer pressure cause an eating disorder? In some cases, anxiety regarding peer group interactions can contribute to the development of an eating disorder but this isn’t the case for everyone. Young adults must cope with numerous forms of anxiety and stress, any one of which can become part of what causes them to develop an eating disorder. While there are rarely straightforward answers regarding the cause of these complex disorders, it’s important to remember that recovery is possible.

The Starting Long-Term Effects Of Bulimia

You may have heard of Bulimia Nervosa and wondered if it is as big a deal as people make it out to be. While you may be aware of the behavior associated with this disorder, you may not be familiar with the long-term effects that can accompany it.

Ultimately, Bulimia can lead to the death of the individual who suffers from it. But there are other side effects that can take their toll over the course of weeks, months, and even years after the behavior has been corrected. Due to the act of excessive purging, the person’s body sustains surprising amounts of damage. For example, frequent vomiting that is repeated over an extended amount of time can damage the esophagus, teeth, and even cause problems with glands and gums of the mouth.

Unfortunately, these side effects barely scratch the surface. Repeated vomiting robs the body of necessary potassium and can cause a severe imbalance of other crucial nutrients as well. The strain on the individual’s body can damage their heart and can lead to a variety of mental, physical, and emotional obstacles later on down the road. These can include depression, Osteoporosis, intestinal problems, infertility, and anemia, just to name a few.

Clearly, the long term effects of Bulimia can be absolutely catastrophic to any individual who suffers from it. But there are treatment options that can be very effective. If you or someone you know is battling with an eating disorder, getting professional help sooner rather than later may help prevent some of the long-term side effects that could be life-altering.

What Occurs In A Binging And Purging Cycle?

If you’re a parent or friend of an individual who is caught in a dangerous cycle of binging and purging, you may be searching for a way to offer help or support. However, in order to be prepared to offer the help that they need, you must first understand what occurs in the cycle.

First, your friend or child will binge. This often is done in secrecy, as many individuals who suffer from eating disorders feel intense shame and guilt. Some common triggers for an episode can include stress, feeling depressed, feeling starved, as well as disappointment with the weight or form of their body. Binging episodes are not always planned, but they frequently occur in an absolute frenzy. While in a binging state, many individuals can be completely unaware of taste or sensation.

Next comes the purge. Whether done through vomiting or the use of laxatives, purging is extremely hard on the body. Many individuals purge to avoid absorbing calories because they feel unhappy with their bodies. It is not uncommon for the person to see an individual in the mirror that is drastically different from reality.

Two parts of purging make the behavior extremely harmful. First, the body is robbed of vitamins and nutrients and can create a situation of severe imbalance. As a result, many individuals can become deficient and they can suffer for years afterwards. The second part is the stress it inflicts on the body. Muscles used to vomit and control the bowels can be damaged, including the bodily structures involved, such as the intestines, esophagus, and mouth. Together, binging and purging create a disastrous cycle that can be very difficult to break.

It goes without saying that binging and purging is unhealthy, but few people are aware of how dangerous the cycle truly is. In order to correct this behavior, professional help is not only frequently required, but is also strongly recommended. Due to the psychological effects that can linger long after dealing with an eating disorder, you should take no chances by self-diagnosing, or postponing treatment.

Is It A Diet Or An Eating Disorder?

If you are constantly “dieting” in order to lose weight, you may need to occasionally ask yourself, “Is it a diet or an eating disorder?”  In a world where not being on a diet is considered to be out of the norm, it can be difficult to draw the line between dieting and eating disorders.

Dieting is about controlling your weight through food, while eating disorders go far beyond that.  Eating disorders are often about gaining control over life.  Many individuals who suffer from eating disorders struggle with wanting to gain approval and acceptance from themselves or others.  They may be trying to numb painful emotions, or they simply feel that by controlling their food intake and weight, they can prove to themselves and others that they are in control of at least one component of their lives.  Eating disorders do not stop when a certain weight goal is achieved because a new goal will always be set.  Those with eating disorders have unrealistic and unattainable expectations that cannot be met, which often leads to a poor self-esteem and general outlook on life.

Next time you are pondering the question, “Is it a diet or an eating disorder?” take a moment to focus on how you feel about yourself and about life in general.  By focusing on confidence and self-acceptance, you are sure to find your inner beauty without turning to destructive eating disorders.

Why Won’t My Teen Eat?

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Why won’t my teen eat?”  If so, it is important to spend some time doing research on some of the most common signs and symptoms of eating disorders among teens.  Although your teen may just be going through a phase of not having much of an appetite, he or she may also be suffering from a more serious condition that can’t be brushed off as “just a phase.”  Eating disorders can result in serious health consequences, including malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances, loss of menstruation, depression, and possibly even death.

Two of the most commonly talked about eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia.  Simply stated, anorexia is characterized by self-starvation, while bulimia is characterized by a cycle of binge eating and self-induced vomiting.  It is important to note that an individual doesn’t need to appear underweight or even “average” to suffer from any of the signs and symptoms of these disorders.  Pay attention to if your teen loses a large amount of weight rapidly, is obsessed with counting calories, has a fear of eating around others, or makes negative statements about him or herself after eating.

By keeping a close eye on your teen and looking for common signs and symptoms of eating disorders, you may be able to successfully answer the question, “Why won’t my teen eat.”  If you notice a reoccurring dietary problem, seek help right away.

Teen Eating Disorders in Boys

Breaking Stereotypes in Mental Illness

Eating disorders do not discriminate based on gender and while they more often affect women than men, there are millions of teen boys silently suffering from this illness. Teen eating disorders in boys are serious diseases to be recognized and treated and often parents are the first step in developing a healthy body image and eating habits.

With about 1 in 10 cases of eating disorders occurring in males, it is important to be aware of the signs unique to a mental illness in boys. Males often diet for a specific reason, either due to being teased or to improve athletic performance. While anorexia and bulimia are found in teen boys, telltale signs often involve excessive bodybuilding, weightlifting and muscle toning.

It has been noticed that doctors are less likely to diagnose a male for an eating disorder than a female. Whether it is due to the general acceptance of over-eating, or under-eating in a male more so than a female, or to the shame boys often feel when suffering from a generalized “female” disease, eating disorders in the male population are serious issues that are often overlooked.

Being aware of risks boys face, especially when it comes to mental disorders and the possibility of them being overlooked can make all the difference for your teen. While it may be less often than girls and left often heard about, teen eating disorders in boys are serious and are more prevalent than often thought. Understanding these disorders as well as treatment options can help get your teen the treatment he needs before anything more serious occurs.

Teen Eating Disorders – A Serious Issue

We live in a world where teens feel increasingly pressured to look “perfect” in order to be accepted by themselves and their peers.  Many teens turn to unhealthy dieting patterns to gain control over their bodies and lose unwanted pounds.  Now, more than ever, teen eating disorders are a serious issue in our society.

A recent study found that over half of teenage girls and nearly one-third of teenage boys engage in unhealthy behaviors to control their weight.  Some of the most common unhealthy behaviors include skipping meals, taking laxatives, vomiting, and smoking cigarettes.  There are many serious health consequences that are a result of self-starvation or self-induced vomiting.  These behaviors can result in an abnormally slow heart rate and low blood pressure, muscle loss and weakness, reduced bone density, severe dehydration, hair loss, loss of menstruation in women, and even death.  Because eating disorders are about gaining unrealistic control over one’s body and one’s life, it usually leads to a poor self-image and depression.  These life destroying behaviors must be stopped.

Help and hope is available to those who suffer from such self-defeating behaviors.  By recognizing that teen eating disorders are a serious issue and by not brushing strange dietary behaviors off as simply “a phase”, you can help your loved ones get the help they need to fully enjoy life in their own God-given body.

Knowing when to Seek Treatment for an Eating Disorder

While eating disorders affect people from each and every demographic, regardless of age, young adults during their development are the most at risk. There are many different mental, emotional and physical reasons why eating disorders develop among teens and young adults and they can vary from one individual to the next. Knowing the potential causes of eating disorders and the options for teen eating disorder treatment can make all the difference in the life of a young adult.


Various factors, including certain activities or stressors, can put teens at a higher risk of developing an eating disorder like bulimia or anorexia. One of the biggest causes of body-image problems in children comes from societal pressure to be beautiful and thin, not that the two must go hand in hand. Low self-esteem, perfectionist tendencies, and anxiety may cause an individual to overly-control their eating habits to achieve more of a sense of stability in his or her life.


Changing eating habits before an illness develops and preventing an eating disorder is much easier than breaking an already-developed unhealthy habit. Teaching teens how a proper diet can affect not only their health, but also their hair, skin, teeth and energy levels can encourage a responsible diet. If you notice the signs of an eating disorder, seeking treatment immediately can help prevent a dangerous situation from getting worse. Teen eating disorder treatment involves developing nutritional stability, encouraging a positive personal-identity, and education on everyday coping strategies and stress relievers.


Eating disorders are a serious problem among teens and young adults and awareness of causes and symptoms can help lower the statistics. With the many options for teen eating disorder treatment, finding a program that offers the types of education and recovery options for each unique situation can help encourage nutritional stability and self-esteem.