Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder, are psychological disorders that involve extreme disturbances in eating behavior. A teen with anorexia refuses to stay at a normal body weight. Someone with bulimia has repeated episodes of binge eating followed by compulsive behaviors such as vomiting or the use of laxatives to rid the body of food. Binge eating is characterized by uncontrolled overeating.
What are the early warning signs?
• Rapid weight loss or weight gain
• changes in shape
• feelings of unhappiness with body shape and size
• an intense fear of gaining weight
• denial of being hungry
• deceptive behaviour around food — for instance, throwing out or hiding school lunches
• avoiding food and eating in social situations
• excessive physical activity
• compulsive exercising and a need to be active all the time
• eating in secret
• cutting out particular food groups, such as meat or dairy products
• developing food rituals – such as always using the same bowl, cutting food up into tiny pieces or eating very slowly
• behavioural changes – such as social withdrawal, irritability or depression
• Sleep disturbance.
Possible causes of eating disorders
There’s no single cause for eating disorders. Genes, environment, and stressful events all play a role. Some things can increase a person’s chance of having an eating disorder, such as:
• poor body image
• too much focus on weight or looks
• dieting at a young age
• playing sports that focus on weight (gymnastics, ballet, ice skating, and wrestling)
• having a family member with an eating disorder
• mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, or OCD
How to support recovery
• Encourage self-esteem in children
• Help them feel good about their bodies
• Regulated use of social media
• If diagnosed get help from a nutritionist, psychologist and a physiologist in combination as advised.