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Friday, November 26 2021

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Eating disorders in children

As a parent your uttermost concern is children’s eating habit. Every parent tries to provide healthy food and opportunities to eat it. Your child can decide how much to eat or whether to eat at all. Sometimes your child likes to eat a lot and that’s okay! At times your child may eat little less, and that is okay too. Understanding your child’s “Tummy Talk” is also necessary to make sure what kind of eating patterns your child has.

It is obvious when your child engages in physical activity for a longer period, the appetite level is normally high, and also you do supply sufficient (more than usual) amount of food. But in some cases you need to really take extra care if your child/teenager shows following signs

l  Going to bathroom immediately after the meal
l  Restricting food intake (amount or type)
l  Worries about caloried food
l  Unexplained weight loss
l  Excessive exercise
l  Consuming food secretly

Further teens develop certain diet plans which are normally not normal. Teens especially girls develop body consciousness due to which they avoid becoming fat. So, they literally avoid important meal to maintain weight/lose weight. If this sort of behaviour occurs over a long period of time in an abnormal way then their eating pattern comes under eating disorder category.

Hence, now let us understand few eating disorder in children/teens which causes serious changes in eating habits that can lead to major or even life-threatening health problems.

Few children/teens think that they weigh too much. They have a distorted body image .They compare themselves with celebrities who often look thin. In this case they restrict themselves about how much food they eat. In severe cases immediately after consuming food, they rush to bathroom to throw up due to the fear of getting fat. In order to avoid weight gain they may consume medicines without doctor’s prescription. Despite all the activities these children look thin and they want to either keep up that weight or lose it more. This disorder is known as anorexia nervosa.

In some cases children eat larger amount of food or overeat. This overeating is followed by self-induced throwing up. This habit is uncontrollable. In order to lose weight they engage in excessive exercise which is usually bizarre. This kind of eating disorder is known as bulimia nervosa.

At times Children lose control over eating habit and binge (eating too much). These type of eating pattern make them feel calm, comfortable or stop them from feeling upset. But after a binge they might feel anxious, guilty or stressed. Usually children with binge eating have overweight issues. They are prone to obesity, more often they like to eat alone. They secretly keep food in the room so that they can have it whenever they want. Hence identifying these kind of eating pattern in children is a crucial task.

If you think this may sound simple and do not cause trouble you are wrong. It will seriously leave adverse health-related problems in later adolescent or adult stage. These kind of habits will have a negative effect on their digestive system and also causes imbalance in menstrual cycle. They often end up in depression, anxiety, fear which would later cause problem in forming relationship also. Thus it is every parent’s responsibility to look after their children’s eating pattern and if they find any abnormal signs consult a therapist immediately.

Photo credit: freepik

Ramya E.

The author is a counselor and lifeskills trainer who has trained over 2000 students. She holds an M.Sc. in Psychology.

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