Over 28 million Americans suffer from eating disorders at some point in their life. Unhealthy relationships with food often start at a young age. In adolescence, media images and societal ideals create more pressure to achieve thinness.
If your teen in the Sycamore area has an eating disorder, you might be struggling with how to help. Learning about eating disorder signs and the treatments available from a family counseling services professional is a good start.
What Are Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders are a group of illnesses characterized by abnormal eating habits. These can include restricting food, overexercising, and bingeing and purging. Extreme weight loss, along with physical and mental symptoms, are also defining features.
Risk factors include trauma, bullying, genetic factors, and environmental components. Low self-esteem and perfectionism are often linked to eating disorders as well.
Eating Disorder Signs
The symptoms of eating disorders vary based on the sub-type. If you suspect your teen or child in the Sycamore area has an eating disorder, keep an eye out for any of these signs.
People suffering from anorexia restrict food to the point of starvation. They might also attempt to reduce calories through intense workouts and purging behaviors. Common signs of anorexia are:
- Rapid and extreme weight loss
- Dressing in layers to hide the body
- Obsession with calories, nutrition, and portions
- Refusing to consume certain foods
- Consistent comments about being fat or needing to lose weight
- Avoiding meals or creating “meal rituals”
Fatigue, hair loss, and digestive problems commonly occur. The menstrual cycle may change, and females can lose their period due to malnutrition.
A constant cycle of bingeing and purging characterize bulimia. Bingeing means eating a large amount of food in a short period of time. Following a wave of guilt and shame, the individual purges by vomiting or taking laxatives. Some common signs of bulimia include:
- Hiding evidence of binges (food wrappers and containers)
- Consistent trips to the bathroom after eating
- Avoiding eating in public or with people
- Constantly chewing gum or using mouthwash
- Dental problems from vomiting
- Puffy face and weight fluctuations
Bulimia can also affect the immune system, hair, nails, and skin. People often have a hard time getting quality sleep and maintaining muscle strength.
Other Eating Disorders
Although anorexia and bulimia are the most common, there are other eating disorders. These include:
- Binge Eating Disorder
- Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder
- Rumination Disorder
It’s vital to diagnose eating disorders in adolescents early. Studies have found that shorter instances of disordered eating have a higher recovery rate.
Treatments for Eating Disorders in Sycamore
A successful treatment plan starts with a medical diagnosis. A recovery plan will be created after receiving an evaluation from a certified counselor in near Sycamore. It will usually involve:
- Individual counseling
- Behavior therapy
- Medical care
- Nutritional counseling
- Group therapy
Holistic elements like yoga, meditation, and art therapy are also beneficial. Treatment will focus on:
- Treating physical medical problems
- Correcting harmful eating patterns
- Education on nutrition, well-being, and balanced exercise
- Identifying dangerous behaviors and learning new strategies
A critical part of treatment is also the prevention of a relapse. Therapy should provide the tools and coping skills needed to get through a potential relapse.
Creating Healthy Food Relationships with Your Children in Sycamore
Food, weight, and exercise can be sensitive topics, especially during the teen years. However, if you see these eating disorder signs in your child or teen’s behavior, it’s time to talk. Create a positive, safe space to share their feelings and remember to maintain trust.
The next step is seeking professional help in the Sycamore area. Braden Counseling Center offers individual and group counseling, as well as evaluations. Contact us today to get started or visit one of our locations.