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How to Know if Your Teen Is Hiding an Eating Disorder

One of the hallmarks of eating disorders—an extreme, unhealthy obsession with food or weight—is secrecy. If your teen is suffering from an eating disorder, they are likely experiencing a great deal of shame and guilt around their actions, which causes them to hide their issue.

The three most common eating disorders—bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating disorder—have a variety of symptoms that may overlap each other. Also, it is possible your teen may be suffering from more than just one eating disorder—bulimia and binge-eating disorder often go hand-in-hand, for instance.

In order to make sure your teen is healthy, it is important to monitor specific actions and habits they have—some of which are more obvious than others. Read on to learn 4 key tips to recognizing a potential eating disorder in your teen.

1. Visiting the Restroom Soon After Eating

If your teen is sneaking off to the bathroom soon after snacks or meals or on a frequent basis, it is a possible red flag of bulimia—an eating disorder where the sufferer purges their food through forced vomiting or use of laxatives. Watch closely for evidence of diuretics, diet pills, or laxatives, even if it means sorting through the trash for wrappers.

2. Odd Food Habits

If your teen insists on chewing food a certain number of times, pushes their food back and forth across their plate rather than eating it, or adopts any other odd habits surrounding food, it may be indicative of a greater problem such as anorexia—an eating disorder where the sufferer’s obsession with being thin leads to a restriction of calories.

3. Hidden Food

If you find hidden food stashes, this may be cause for alarm. Keeping food secret may signal a potential eating disorder such as bulimia or binge eating—a disorder where the sufferer consumes large quantities of food in one sitting on a frequent basis.

4. Alarming Weight Loss

Weight loss that occurs rapidly or causes your teen to dip below a healthy weight is a warning sign to take seriously. Rapid, unhealthy weight loss can indicate a number of eating disorders.

All in all, being knowledgeable about the warnings signs of an eating disorder in your teen is crucial in helping to ensure their health. If you notice one or more of these signs, consider talking with your teen or a professional at a place like Center for Change in order to receive prompt help. These disorders are real mental issues that need addressed.

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