If your child hasn't reached those terrifying teenage years, you might not think you need to worry about eating disorders. Unfortunately, that's not true. Studies show that kids as young 7 years of age are being diagnosed with anorexia. That's a frightening statistic. Unfortunately, many adolescent eating disorders go undiagnosed because parents or caregivers don't know what they're looking for. Luckily, there are some tell-tale signs that can help identify potential problems. If your child is exhibiting any of the signs below, you should contact a healthcare professional who specializes in eating disorders.
Sudden Interest in Labels
Most kids don't really care what the label says. They just care that the food they're eating tastes good, or that it's the food their favorite pop star eats. If your child suddenly takes an interest in reading labels, there might be cause for concern, especially if they're reading every label that comes in the house. First, ask your child why they're interested in the labels. You might find out that they're participating in a class project. However, if your child doesn't have an explanation for the sudden interest, or they become defensive when you ask, you need to watch for a few other signs, and then get help.
Sudden Increase in Daily Exercise
If your adolescent child has taken a sudden interest in exercise, it's time to be concerned. This is particularly true if they're spending all their spare time exercising. Watch your child for a few days. If they're passing up the opportunity to participate in other activities so they can exercise, or they're exercising as soon as they get up in the morning, you should talk to a healthcare provider.
Sudden Increase in Water Intake
Kids usually pass up plain water for other more flavorful beverages. If your child has begun consuming large quantities of water, especially before each meal, they may be using it as a way to avoid eating. Consuming large quantities of water will fill the stomach, making your child feel fuller at mealtimes. Watch your child. If they're drinking more water, and eating less food, it's time to seek professional help.
Sudden Withdrawal from Friends
If your previously outgoing child has suddenly withdrawn from their friends, this could be a cause for concern, especially if they've withdrawn from all social activities. Kids with eating disorders may withdraw from friends out of fear that their eating disorder will be discovered, or because they're too consumed with the need to lose weight.
Don't take chances with your child's health. If your adolescent is exhibiting any of the signs described here, talk to a healthcare professional near you. Consider looking at places like the Center for Change eating disorder treatment center as a place to start.