The the pandemic has not been good for anyone’s mental health and, sadly, children’s mental health crises have increased, including eating disorders. Whereas anorexia, or a fear of gaining weight that usually presents as food restriction, is the most talked about eating disorder, binge eating can also negatively impact your child’s life, causing problems lifelong health. Here is what to look for-and what to do-if you think your child may have binge eating disorder.
What are the signs binge eating disorder?
Jhe National Eating Disorders Associationwhich has a helpline and provides resources for those who need help with all types of eating disorders, sets beating disorder (LIT), as “recurrent episodes of eating large amounts of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of loss of control during the frenzy; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (eg, purging) to counter binge eating. They say it’s the most common eating disorder in the United States.S and it’s recognized in the DSM, which is used to categorize mental illness (and make sure your insurance pays for the treatment).
Some things to look for in your child include:
- Fear of gaining weight
- Weight fluctuation
- Gastrointestinal problems (cramps, acid reflux, etc.)
- Body checking (frequent looking in the mirror or in the windows)
- Afraid or seems uncomfortable eating around others
- Missing food in the house or large amounts of packaging/containers
- Store or hide large amounts of favorite food
- Attempts to conceal excessive food consumption
- Diet or new eating habits or fads (ie.e., veganism, carb removal, etc.)
- Signals that the child is unable to stop binge eating
- Food rituals (eating only at certain times or certain foods)
- Disruption of normal eating habits (eating throughout the day rather than at mealtimes, eating alone)
- Withdrawal from friends or activities
Please keep in mind that your child, especially a teenager, can put on a lot of weight around puberty and this is not necessarily a sign that they are binging, sometimes children get taller before they bulk up or vice versa. Be careful not to impose your own disordered eating behaviors on your child and check your own body image bias.
What to do if you think your child has BED
Dr Bill Hudenko, Global Head of Mental Health at Health K, says if you are concerned that your child is having disordered eating behavior: “It is important to contact a pediatrician, nutritionist, or mental health care provider to determine if your child might meet the criteria for binge eating. In addition to the negative impacts this disorder can have on your child’s body, early intervention will likely lead to better treatment before the behaviors become too entrenched.
The heylong-term effects of eating disorders include the impact on mental health, such as anxiety and depression, and lifelong physical consequences such as metabolic health issues and cardiovascular health issues. Early treatment is vital.
If your child is diagnosed with BED, Hudenko says, “Eating disorders are hard to treat because we all need food to survive. This of course means that you can’t completely eliminate eating, but rather you need to work on changing the child’s eating habits into a healthier pattern.
Although you may need to try several different treatments to find the best one for your child and family, says Hudenko, the “ideal treatment for binge eating would involve consultation with a well-trained mental health provider who can help the family. to assess their food culture. Interventions would likely include restricting access to certain foods that are typically used for bingeing, developing alternative coping mechanisms if food is used to manage stress, and learning to slow the pace of eating while still reading the bodily signals of satiety.
Many parents today are from the age of low-fat, fad diets. We hope to spare our children the pain and heartache of our years of hating our bodies and wanting to be something else. By monitoring our children and making sure we stay on top of potential eating disorders, we give them the gift of body acceptance and love that they can carry with them into adulthood.
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