Most eating disorders are very difficult to identify, especially in children who often tend to be finnicky when it comes to dinner time. Still, it is important that if you think your child, or someone that you care about, might have an eating disorder, you should know the symptoms and side effects. Whether you believe that your child might have anorexia nervosa, bulimia or an overeating disorder, knowing what to look for can ensure that they get the help they need to stay healthy and take control their eating habits.

Eating Disorders

What Are The Warning Signs Of An Eating Disorder?

Most eating disorders including anorexia and bulimia have a wide range of signs, symptoms and causes. Additionally, there are other body image disorders which are similar to anorexia and bulimia, such as orthorexia and body dysmorphic disorder, which can display many of the same symptoms. You might not see any outward signs, which can make detection even more difficult, so it is a good idea to watch for any anxiety or emotional troubles as well.

Behavioural Signs Of An Eating Disorder

Your child’s behaviour is a key indicator in determining if they have an eating disorder or not. Behaviours that are often associated with eating disorders can include:

  • Adhering to strict diets, regardless of their weight.
  • Frequent and regular trips to the bathroom immediately after eating.
  • Binge eating.
  • Hoarding large amounts of food.
  • Consumption of laxatives, diuretics or diet pills.
  • Exercising several hours per day.
  • Using prescription stimulant medications to suppress appetite.

Emotional Signs Of An Eating Disorder

There are also many common emotional signs of an eating disorder. These can include:

  • Withdrawal from friends and family.
  • Avoiding mealtime or situations where food is present.
  • Preoccupation with their weight, body size and shape or appearance.
  • Obsessing over calorie intake and calories burned.

How To Recognize The Symptoms Of An Eating Disorder

Depending on the stage of progression, every eating disorder displays its own specific symptoms. Let’s take a look at the differences between the three most common eating disorders in children:

Anorexia- anorexia nervosa is a disorder where the child will starve themselves to maintain their ideal body weight. This is usually an unrealistic and unhealthy weight, however.

Bulimia- bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder in which the child regularly binges on a large amount of food, only to throw it up immediately after eating it. This is also called binging and purging.