Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder are serious mental illnesses that affect people of all ages. Patients with these conditions show the signs of abnormal eating behaviour that has a severe impact on both their physical and mental health.
Most people who find someone with weird eating habits think that these are the lifestyle choices; however, that ‘s not true. Yes, these are serious diseases, not lifestyle choices. People with eating disorders often try to hide their behaviour from others because they embarrassed by it.
So, if you have a child who is either consuming too much food in too little time or they are starving themselves because they think they are overweight then you must try to convince them to see a healthcare expert to get rid of their problem.
However, before we discuss how to help a loved one with this problem, let’s talk in bit details about different types of eating disorders.
One of the most common forms of eating disorders, anorexia nervosa is a condition where a person believes that they are overweight, even if they are underweight. And because they feel that they are overweight, they start starving themselves with an intention to lose weight. They eat only a limited quantity of food, and they keep on checking their weight frequently. And the worst part is that they eliminate a wide range of foods from their diet thinking that those foods can increase belly fat and can add extra inches to their waistline.
Signs & Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa
- An unwavering desire to lose weight
- Elimination of different types of foods from the diet
- Extreme obsession about maintaining a good body shape
- Fear of gaining weight and low self-esteem
- Suffering from conditions like osteoporosis
- Sleep deprivation, breathing problem, and low blood pressure
- Feeling tired and sick all the time because of the lack of nutrition
- Yellow skin, and unhealthy hair and nails
- Feeling weakness all the time
- Dry mouth and infertility
Characterised by symptoms like excessive eating followed by compensatory behaviours like spending more time in the gym while carrying out hard exercises, forced vomiting, or fasting, etc., bulimia nervosa is another common type of eating disorder that affects a wide range of people in the UK. People with this condition fail to control their excessive eating behaviour; hence, they feel embarrassed about it and try to hide it from the people around them.
Signs & Symptoms of Bulimia Nervosa
- Eating food in more quantities
- Suffering from gastrointestinal problems
- Feeling sick due to dehydration that stems from forced vomiting
- Electrolyte imbalance, sore throat, and worn tooth enamel
- Depression, anxiety and social isolation
People with binge-eating disorder eat food in large quantities than they should consume. However, they do not indulge in compensatory behaviours like purging and performing exercises, which is why they are mostly overweight. It’s a common form of eating disorder and can increase the risk of several other health conditions.
Signs & Symptoms of Binge-eating Disorder
- Consuming excessive foods frequently that leads to weight gain
- People with this condition consume foods even if they are full
- They hide their eating behaviours from others
Although, eating disorders are common among people of all ages; however, they affect people mostly in their teen years.
So, if your son or daughter is also suffering from such a problem, here is how you can help them.
Educate Yourself About Eating Disorders
Before you give any advice to your teen daughter or son, it’s better to educate yourself about eating disorders. You can’t offer suggestions if you don’t have any knowledge about their health problem. So the first step that you need to take in this direction is to read as many articles and blogs as possible about eating disorders. Try figure out the causes as well, so that you can show the right direction to your loved one.
Check Their Signs & Symptoms
To have a clear understanding of your child’s problem, you need to observe their symptoms. For example, if your child’s eating behaviour has changed, they are unable to focus on their work, indulging in overexercising, purging after eating food, and are suffering from conditions like anxiety and depression, then you should try to help them by talking to them.
Approach Your Child Politely
One of the best ways to understand their problem is to talk to them. However, make sure that you approach them respectfully; otherwise, they won’t respond to you. If you behave rudely, they won’t trust the fact that you want to help them; hence, they won’t share their problems with you. So, whenever you try to discuss their condition, always make sure that you approach them as their friend.
Yes, it’s essential for you to convince your child that you are just like their friends, with whom they share all their secrets.
Don’t Shout At Their Rude Behaviour
It’s necessary for you to understand that your child is struggling from a mental illness, so be prepared that they will behave rudely at times. However, if you start shouting or yelling at them when they do not consume food properly or eat an excessive amount of foods, then you will never be able to help them. If you show anger to them, they will do the same to you.
Convince them to Take Treatment
If you think that you can’t help your child on your own, then it’s better to persuade them to seek quick medical help. And to do so, you have to convince them they are suffering from a problem that needs immediate medical attention.
And once your child starts believing that they have a mental condition, they will surely cooperate with you. After that, all you have to do is find a trusted rehab centre that offers quality treatment for eating disorders. Treating eating disorders is a big challenge.
According to Charter Harley Street, a well-known rehab centre that offers quality treatments for eating disorders, “although it’s common to use food as a weapon to cope with conditions like stress and anxiety; however, once that takes the shape of an eating disorder, it’s hard to recover from it.”
So, if you want to bring that much-needed change in the life of your child, don’t forget to consider the above tips.