Parents report they never noticed the eating disorder in the first place!
Reports include – “My kid never had problems until now” or “they are always doing so well in school and never get into trouble,” “Anorexia in children doesn’t happen here.”
On the other hand, other parents don’t know what to do or how to approach the subject. Learn about the signs and read below for some further ideas.
Anorexia in children is not always obvious – unless it gets too intense. You can prevent a loved one from suffering. You can help. It’s not your fault you don’t have the training or know-how, you are going to miss the signs. This isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s a nasty disorder that likes to hide. It creates so much confusion along the way.
If your child is losing weight: This is often for many the first noticeable sign. Be careful how you approach the subject. Sometimes someone who struggles with anorexia can be overly sensitive to weight and body concerns. If the approach is harsh or accusatory it could strengthen the disorder. Find a way to discuss your concerns with your loved one in a supportive tone, describing what you see and offering support.
Reduced food intake: Lower amounts of food can often lead to a myriad of problems. Poor emotional regulation, feelings associated with numbness, hormone reduction, stalling growth spurts and more. If you are concerned, you can visit the doctors office and have them do an assessment. Just make sure to contact the MD before you arrive, this way they are aware of your concerns.
Chronic Dieting: Dieting is a vicious cycle. Kids nowadays try all sorts of ways to control what they are eating. Ask him or her their intentions and do your best to offer support. Careful not to judge. Take a bit more control, have more family meals where all members of the family are present.
Calorie Obsessions: Our current awareness of food and body leads to many false beliefs associated with calories. Especially with the internet. Kids need calories. They need more than adults. Please be weary if your child is eating less than what seems normal. Try to find out where they are getting their information. Have an educated discussion about the positives and the harms that potentially can happen.
Depression: One of the signs of anorexia in children is reduced energy and the inability to connect with friends and family. Eating small portions of food on a daily basis will deplete the energy stores in a child’s system and create poor coping with life. Other signs include staying in bed all day, irritability, and wearing unkept clothing. Helping people find goals and intentions to their life is important. Having something to get up for and participate in that comes of the depressed person is key to getting them back to life.
Ritualistic Eating: If you notice that your child will only eat specific foods focused for reasons that are precarious, it may be wise to pay a bit more attention. Often fixed food rituals include only allowing specific types of food, not allowing food to touch and having a specific order of eating.
Know the signs and have a discussion with your loved one. It’s important that they understand that you care.