The Need for Control

This is the second blog in the four part series Warning Signs

Anorexia Nervosa is a disorder where a person has a fear of becoming fat, with distorted thoughts and images of their own body, and an obsession to lose weight by excessive dieting.

Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by excessive binging (eating a lot of food at once) and then forcing oneself to vomit to prevent weight gain.

Binging is considered when one person overeats and may have guilt after eating so much food in one sitting. Someone who is a binge eater will excessively eat within an amount of time. The person usually eats until they are uncomfortable and can no longer eat anymore.

The battle of an eating disorder begins with an underlying issue. It is not always triggered by self-esteem issues. Sometimes it’s triggered by a need to feel control over something when someone has lost control of another area of their life. Often times, youth that have suffered trauma, have been abused, has had a significant change in their daily life such as a divorce or a move, or those who suffer from depression will engage in eating disorders to help negatively cope with their problems.

As a parent, it is important for you to know the warning signs of eating disorders especially if you know that your child has experienced any sort of trauma or sudden life change or may struggle with depression. Pay attention if you child refuses to eat at meals. They may say things like, “I’m going to eat later,” “I already ate,” or “I’m not hungry.” These statements may be true for the time but if they continue for a few days it may cause concern.

Another key sign of an eating disorder, which might be more obvious, is going to the bathroom after food has been served and they have eaten. This is a common sign that an eating disorder is taking place. I always advise that if you notice this happening frequently after meals you go and check on your child and see if they are okay. Be sure to follow up with more conversations about their eating habits if you see this happening frequently and not in conjunction with an illness.

Another common sign of an eating disorder is if your child has fingers that are dry and scaly. Try not to jump to conclusions with this because it could be caused by other dry skin issues, but keep an eye out to see if this is in conjunction with any other signs or warning.

Pay attention to any rapid weight loss your child may have. Remember too that female teens are more sensitive and need to know that you are coming from a compassionate and concerned place.

As a parent it can be scary to see your child struggling with an eating disorder, but the more you know about them and their warning signs it can help you catch it sooner rather than later. Do not be afraid to have the hard conversations with your child and to get him or her the help that they need.

***Eating Disorder resources ****

Association Hotline number is 1-800-931-2237.

Click here to read the next blog in this series. 

About the Author

Cheyenne Vasquez

Cheyenne is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern who works with severely emotionally disturbed adolescents from Southern California. On her spare time she enjoys singing, exercising, eating ding dongs, and napping (not in that particular order).