Do you suspect an eating disorder?
02-11-2017 11:19 AM - last edited on 02-12-2017 10:59 AM by Ngaio-RO
I worried and fussed around for almost a year before we got appropriate help for my teen's eating disorder. I could see signs that all was not right with my teen, but everytime I mentioned it to a doctor they seemed to shrug their shoulders, and they certainly did not give me access to the help we needed. Not all doctors are like that, but some are. If you suspect an eating disorder it is often good to go and see a more recently qualified doctor, as they are more up to date on current best treatment.
Write down the things that are concerning you about your child's eating, not eating, binges or purges. If they consistently eat weird things, prepared in odd ways, disappear during meal times, say they have already eaten, or pretend to be asleep, obsess about food but don't actually eat it, if they are cold all the time, if they increasingly limit the types of food they eat, if they cut out whole food groups or a million other things that may indicate an eating disorder. I'm just a parent with no medical training, what I am saying is, write everything down and take it to your doctor, and if they don't take you seriously, see another doctor..It is also possible to self refer to an eating disorder clinic in some places..
Meanwhile google the Butterfly Foundation. Don't let it drag on for a year or more as I did: eating disorders are serious and life threatening and there is help out there, help that does work.
Re: Do you suspect an eating disorder?
02-12-2017 02:07 PM
Thanks for raising this @Elena It's an incredibly important topic for parents of teenagers. Both male and female.
Everything you say is spot on. Looking out for those things is a great way to catch it early.
One of the most important developments we've made in this area is by expanding the language from eating disorders (i.e.anorexia and bulimia) to disordered eating which includes: restrictive eating, cutting out entire food groups, fear of types of food, obsessive and/or compulsive thinking around eating / weight / dieting etc. So now, if a young person has a preoccupation with eating/not eating or weight gain/loss then it's called disordered eating and needs support.
We know that a lot of the time this is a young person's way to feel in control of their lives. The thinking is "I can't control X but I can control what I eat and what happens to my body as a result." Which is why forcing them to eat often exacerbates issues because it amplifies their feelings of having no control. Stress is another major contributor. My daughter was one of four girls in her friend group that devevloped disordered eating during their HSC year. Again it was a response to how out of control they felt (if I fail my life is OVER) that they addressed by controlling what they put in their mouths.
I also completely agree with @Elena's comments about doctors. We started there, as you always have to, and I was really disappointed by the lack of knowledge the GP had. Her response was for my daughter to "have a milkshake between meals to gain some weight" a sentence that made my daughter go into absolute panic. So other than getting a referral, I would highly reccommend heading straight for a specialist. Which for us was an amazing service offering psychologists who all specialised in disordered eating. Here's the Butterfly Foundation that Elena mentioned. It's a great place to start. You can get information and resources for yourself as well as 24 hour support for your teenager.
And as some of you may know, it's no longer just a female issue. For those of you with sons who may be showing behaviours that are starting to concern you, have a read of this factsheet on males and eating disorders that includes a 'warning signs' section.