By Megan Samuels, MSW, LMSW, Outreach Coordinator
1. Your teenager has been eating less food.
Have you noticed that your teenager is restricting food intake? This typically means that they are not eating as much as they usually do. This may look like skipping meals or eating less during mealtimes. There may be multiple reasons why your teenager has been eating less food, however, it can be a warning sign for disordered eating and should be taken seriously.
2. You have noticed that your child only eats certain foods.
Have you noticed that your child is a picky eater and only has a small list of foods that they eat? Or has your child been cutting out certain foods that they normally eat, such as carbs or fat? Either of these can be a sign of an eating disorder.
3. Your teenager spends a long time in the bathroom after meals.
Purging, a common symptom of some eating disorders, can include self-induced vomiting. Oftentimes, purging happens after meals. If you notice that your teenager is spending a lot of time in the bathroom after meals, it may be a sign that they are engaging in purging behaviors.
4. Your child is eating food in secrecy.
Is your child hiding food? Do you find empty wrappers of food in their room or in their backpack? This may be a sign that your child is feeling ashamed when eating food or certain types of food. Additionally, this may mean that your child is consuming large amounts of food in secrecy. These can be warning signs that your child may be struggling with restriction or binge eating.
5. Your teenager talks about not liking the way that they look.
Do you notice your teenager making comments about not liking certain body parts (such as their stomach or thighs)? Does your teenager talk about wanting to lose weight to look a certain way. These can be warning signs that your teenager is struggling with body image. Body image distress is often tied to someone’s relationship with food.
6. You have noticed a lot of laxatives missing.
When someone is struggling with food or body image, some people attempt to compensate calories by misusing laxatives. If you notice your teen or child using more laxatives than prescribed by a physician, it may be a sign that they are using laxatives as a tool to control the amount of food they consume or the way that they look.
7. Your teenager has been spending more time than usual exercising.
Has your teenager been exercising more than usual? Does their exercise routine feel “rigid” or “compulsive?” Do they continue to exercise through injuries or have trouble taking days off or rest days? These can be signs that your teenager is struggling with their relationship with movement. This is often tied into their relationship with food and body image as well.
Check out this blog to help your teenager assess if their relationship with movement is healthy.
Check out this blog on recovering from compulsive exercise in an exercise-focused world.
8. You have noticed that your child has been counting calories or only buying foods that they think are “healthy” or “clean."
Have you noticed that your child has been trying to eat only a certain amount of calories each day? Are they cutting out foods that are “processed” or “unhealthy?” These can be forms of restriction, which could indicate some sort of disordered eating pattern.
Check out this blog on “clean eating.”
9. Going out to restaurants is stressful for your teenager.
Does your teenager struggle with going out to eat at restaurants? Is it stressful for them to pick out something to eat on the menu? Do they look at the calories listed on the menu before choosing what to eat? This can be a sign that they could benefit from learning to have a healthier relationship with food.
If you think that your teenager may be struggling with food or body image, we can help! We have eating disorder therapists and coaches who can support your child’s healing journey from disordered eating, eating disorders, and/or body image distress.
Curious as to what will happen when you reach out to us for help? Check out this blog that explains the intake process!
Additionally, this blog outlines some important details on why your child should see an eating disorder specialist if they are struggling with food and/or body image.
Schedule a free 15 min consult for eating disorder therapy in MD, VA, DC, NY, FL, or recovery coaching worldwide.
*Disclaimer: The information is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for your independent medical decision-making nor a recommendation or endorsement for any particular treatment plan, organization, provider, professional service, or product. The information may change without notice. No claims, promises, or guarantees are made about the completeness, accuracy, currency, content or quality of information linked. You assume all responsibility and risk for any use of the information.
The Eating Disorder Center is a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center founded by Jennifer Rollin. We specialize in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, OSFED, and body image issues. We provide eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Silver Spring, Germantown, and Washington D.C. We also provide eating disorder therapy in Arlington, Virginia and virtually throughout Virginia. Additionally, we offer eating disorder therapy virtually in New York (NYC), Florida, and California. We provide eating disorder recovery coaching via Zoom to people worldwide. Connect with us through our website at www.theeatingdisordercenter.com
The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.