Eating Disorders Among Early Adults

For a long time eating disorders in early adults were largely ignored as simply a stage that teenagers-especially girls-went through. But research has shown that the media continues to have control of body image and the refusal to eat in both girls and boys has skyrocketed into disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

If you are worried that your teenager may have one of these eating disorders, there are some red flags for which to watch. This is a simple eating disorder quiz and should only be used to help you get a fix on the situation:

  • Being underweight or not gaining weight as a normal part of growth. If you suspect this, take your child to see their doctor.
  • Even though they may appear to be healthy, what they are doing to maintain their weight may be a factor. Do they eat at the table with the family? Do they push their food around on the plate and make it appear as though they are eating?
  • Do they call themselves "fat" even when it is obvious that they are not?
  • Do they think other people are talking about their weight?
  • If your daughter has begun to have regular monthly cycles, look for the absence of at least three consecutive periods.
  • Do you find clues in their rooms as to episodes of binge eating?
  • Especially hard to catch: self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, fasting, or excessive exercise. This is a form of eating disorder management from the child's point of view.
  • refusal to eat or continuous dieting

What causes eating disorders? Teenagers are insecure to begin with. Add to that the media's bombardment of youth regarding the perfect body type and the hormones involved with this stage of development; it's no wonder that teenagers develop these disorders as a way of feeling in control. There may be some other underlying problems as well. If the family is going through a tough time or something is happening at school your teenager may react to the situation by trying to control the only thing in their life that they feel they have control over; their bodies. Children's eating disorders often start with a major change in their life, such as starting a new school, or a change in their family structure.

What can you as a parent do? Well, one of the steps you can take is to first talk to your doctor. They can give you a much better look at the situation as they know your child. Take this checklist and any questions you may have and phone the doctor first. They can give you the best advice as how to proceed from there. Do not try to confront your child first without doing this; it probably won't go as well as you hope. The chances that you child will become defensive and resistant to your questions could lead to more immediate problems, such as running away or shutting down entirely. Eating disorders in early adults are serious, so ask the professionals and be honest with your children about how the media is lying to them, and remember, your own attitude toward food has a lot to do with it.