Across America this week, families were reminder of the dangers of eating disorders and the effects on everyone. National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is a time to illuminate and reflect on the problem.

Here in Australia, The Butterfly Organisation supports everyone suffering from the challenging and impact of eating disorders.

As quoted on their website “Eating disorders are serious psychiatric disorders with significantly distorted eating behaviours and high risk of physical, as well as psychological harm, “.

Today, let’s talk about a few of the early warning signs that you can look for, that may help you to recognise that a problem exists.

  1. An increase in your child’s stress levels, if they have become more anxious and combined that with weight loss or no weight gain.
  2. You may notice an obsession with weight and size. Are the scales in the bathroom being overuse? You have a heightened awareness that they are obsessed about their clothes fitting properly?
  3. Your child starts to avoid family mealtimes. Has your child become self-conscious about how much they eat? If so, their excuses will start to flow. Suddenly homework takes priority over eating dinner with the rest of the family. Now on one hand that may excite you that studying is an urgency necessity. I’d encourage you to check in with them, take them a plate of food. Monitor their consumption.
  4. Foods they love stop being requested. Becoming a vegetarian out of the blue because they don’t want to eat meat, reducing portion size, cutting food into unusually small portions, eliminating foods such as potatoes, pasta may cause for concern.
  5. The unexpected Houdini act to the bathroom. If your child is struggling with the eating disorder bulimia, they will sit in front of you, eat normally, and then rush to cleanse themselves quickly afterwards. Pay close attention to any notable absence after dinner.
  6. A lack of food in growing kids will generate other physical signs. If they often feel cold, complain about stomach pains, their hair thins, or they seem to have muscle weakness these may be signs that set of concerns about an eating disorder.

Not all changes in behaviour or attitudes to food indicate that your child has an eating disorder. A series of these activities would indicate a concern. To more fully understand the extent of eating disorders, the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders has published some telling statistics.

Don’t ignore this issues, the health of your children is too important.