Eating disorders can occur in children, and that is a tragedy in and of itself. However, there is an even bigger issue at play here, which is that such conditions often remain undiagnosed for a long time.
This happens because they tend to manifest themselves in a different way from symptoms experienced by adults and adolescents.
What are the warning signs of an eating disorder in children?
One of the biggest impediments to early diagnosis is that child symptoms are different from those suggesting eating disorders in adults. In a child, you need to look for the following signs:
- Low body weight (especially if lost rapidly and for no obvious reason)
- Distorted body image or perception of body weight, intense fear of gaining/losing weight
- Refusal to eat certain foods (often accompanied by extreme and violent tantrums)
- Denial of hunger
- Obsessive eating
- Excessive physical activity (often coexisting with an eating disorder, but can be a separate problem altogether)
- Strange eating habits
What do you do when the child has an eating disorder?
First of all, if you suspect the condition you should take your child to a pediatrician and child psychologist to obtain an accurate diagnosis of the issue.
From this point onwards it is incumbent upon the family to be proactive in intervention. You will need to:
Take complete control of their eating
This is invariably necessary because as a parent you have the power to control what your child eats. And as therapy is mostly inefficient at this stage of their development and no approved medications exist, strict control is basically the only thing you can use to ensure that your child stops harming their health.
When we did it, I had to lock up all the food in the house and ration it strictly according to the guidelines outlined by a dietician.
The tantrums were epic and the stress upon everyone involved was tremendous. We ourselves had to go through family therapy in order to cope.
But in the end it was all worth it, so I urge every parent out there to start addressing this issue as soon as possible. Early interventions have the…
Continue reading the article and learn more about eating disorders on Daisy Linden’s blog.