Eating Disorders

If a child or adolescent you know is struggling and has come to you for help, you can take steps to assist them achieving a healthy, happy outcome and lifestyle. Below are some important facts about eating disorders that can help you determine if they need a higher level of help.

The mortality rate associated with anorexia is 12x higher than the death rate of all other causes for females 15-24 years old. 64% of Maine high school girls report that they are trying to lose weight. Eating disorders do not discriminate and can impact individuals of all genders, ethnicity & sexual orientation. 14% of girls and 6.5% of boys struggle with an eating disorder.

  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain

  • Preoccupation with weight and calories

  • Negative self-talk or distorted body image

  • Withdrawal from friends and activities (especially those activities that involve food)

  • Frequent trips to the bathroom after meals

  • Excessive exercising and exercising in the presence of an injury when they have been advised not to exercise

  • Eating in isolation (bedroom)

  • Evidence of binge eating (such as the disappearance of a large amount of food)

  • Frequent complaints of stomach aches that result in decreased intake

  • Going on a special diet such as a vegetarian diet or gluten free diet or “eating healthier” that results in weight loss

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In a loving and non-confrontational way, share your concerns about specific things you’re seeing and feeling. Give examples of times when you have felt concerned or uneasy because of their eating and exercising behaviors or comments they have made about their body. Support them in seeking treatment and be persistent.

Action steps for parents and caregivers of youth with an eating disorder

  • Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of Eating Disorders

  • Let your child know that you are worried about their eating behaviors and attitudes

  • Discuss your concerns with them early on, don’t wait

  • Listen to your child and try not to rush to action to “fix” it for them or try to control what they eat

  • Discuss your concerns with your child’s medical provider as soon as possible. Early intervention is correlated with better outcomes

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National Eating Disorder Association Hotline (NEDA) - (800) 931-2237