This problem affects millions of people, many of them teenage girls.
Yet, not surprisingly, many parents are unable to spot the early warning signs.
Parents often respond with guilt when the secret is out.
Some responses include, "How did I not know," "if I would have known sooner I could have stopped it.
" To complicate things even more, any individual suffering quickly becomes an expert at hiding it.
One of the tragic symptoms is suffering in silence and keeping secrets.
If confronted, the sufferer will typically try to explain and rationalize their behaviors.
However, if these behaviors continue, the signs and symptoms do become increasingly obvious and difficult to deny.
In order to intervene sooner than later, you must know the early danger signs to look for that may be indicative of a potential eating disorder.
Some of the first early warning signs are seen through her relationship with food.
The whole phenomenon does not just develop overnight, but instead starts with disordered eating that has the potential to develop into a clinical eating disorder.
She will begin to display an intensified interest in food.
She may start by talking more about various aspects of food, displaying an increased interest in cooking, and/or spending more time examining nutritional labels.
There may be a continual display of trying new diet fads or/and she may begin to distinguish foods as "good" or "bad.
" Keep your eyes open for any obsessive, or ritual-like behaviors at mealtimes, such as spreading food around the plate, chewing slowly or eating very rapidly, and/or cutting food into tiny pieces.
Some of the food behaviors may happen once in a while and may not move into an eating disorder, but just your acknowledgement may be the reason that it stops right there.
Eating disorders show themselves through restricting, bingeing, purging.
Restricting here refers to trying to lose weight by restricting calories.
With restricting, she may go to great lengths to curb her appetite such as using diet pills and drinking excessive amounts of caffeine.
Bingeing refers to eating large amounts of food in short periods of time.
Some warning signs of bingeing are finding many wrappers or empty food packages and/or hidden stashes of high calorie foods.
Purging refers to trying to rid the body of calories consumed through vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, and excessive exercise.
In regards to purging, a warning sign is making excuses to avoid meals or to leave the table halfway through the meal to use the bathroom.
Cause for concern is if you hear the sound of running water while she is in the bathroom.
This is done to muffle out the sounds of vomiting.
Be concerned if she returns to the table after the bathroom with glazed eyes, clearing her throat, or avoiding eye contact.
All of these behaviors could easily lead to serious eating disorders.
Again, there are numerous more signs to be aware of so for more information on eating disorders such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorders, Compulsive Overeating, or Compulsive Exercising (and several more), please visit http://www.
org/ Eating disorders are more complicated than just unhealthy eating habits and having and is so much more than being on a diet.
At their core, eating disorders involve distorted and critical thoughts of self and self-defeating negative self-talk.
It is these negative thoughts and feelings that feed these damaging behaviors.
This negativity may also be indicative of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Varied symptoms of these psychological disorders often accompany an eating disorder.
Some signs are increased irritability, loss of appetite, excessive worry, repetitive behaviors, sleep disturbances, difficulty concentrating and emotional instability.
The individual may show difficulty with relationships and begins to withdraw and isolate.
There are also physical indicators to spot early signs of a potential eating disorder.
These may range from extreme changes in physical appearance to regular headaches, stomach pains, constipation, and regular flu-like symptoms.
Some additional early physical warning signs are restlessness, insomnia, and lack of energy, loss of menstrual periods, dizziness, and fainting.
More obvious signs in physical appearance are significant weight loss, rapid weight gain, or a constant fluctuation in weight.
The more severe the eating disorder, the more severe the physical complications.
It is important to check with your doctor to discuss any concerning physical changes.
Your doctor will help you to know what may be age appropriate and what may or may not require further medical concern.
For more information on the medical complications of eating disorders, please visit http://www.
com/ Do not wait until this problem is out of control before you seek help.
Remember, many of these indicators may not indicate an eating disorder, but if these behaviors occur more often than not, it is crucial to become proactive.
What may begin as a way to lose weight in what "seems" to be a healthy way could soon turn into being thin is all that matters and health is no longer a concern.
Research shows that the sooner an eating disorder is diagnosed, the more effectively it can be treated.
Those who are better educated about eating disorders are more likely to spot the problem early on and to respond more effectively.
If you suspect a problem, set up an evaluation by a therapist, psychologist, medical doctor trained and experienced in treating eating disorders.