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How to check if your adolescent child is suffering from an eating disorder?

Adolescents and children spend a good part of their day away from home, whether it’s at school or with friends. A lot of times people are not able to detect an eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia in their children, because they seem to behave normally whenever they are at home (and parents are generally unaware of their child’s eating habits outside home), moreover adolescents are known to be moody, so parents may end up ignoring the mood swings associated with their eating disorders. Paying close attention to their behavior however, can help parents detect an eating disorder before the problem worsens. The following tell-tale symptoms are instant give-aways of an eating disorder-

• “I ate at a friend’s place” “I have already eaten”, “I am feeling too full today” etc are some of the most common excuses given at meal times to avoid eating or to eat less.
• Spending an unusual amount of time in front of the mirror, exercising excessively or always asking whether they have put on weight, are signs of an adolescent suffering from anorexia or bulimia.
• Preferring to eat alone is also a trait displayed by a person suffering from an eating disorder.
• Constantly chewing gum or any other substance is also indicative of a disorder. Often adolescents suffering from anorexia chew gums to kill their hunger pangs.
• Heading straight to the washroom soon after a meal (generally) could be a sign of bulimia. Do remember bulimics don’t always throw up to get rid of the calories they have consumed; they could take laxatives, diuretics or even exercise excessively.

Complete recovery from an eating disorder is possible and the sooner it is detected the better it is.