What is an eating disorder?
This is a behavioural condition in which your normal eating becomes disrupted and is rewarded in an unhelpful way. The way addictions disrupt and interrupts normal function, but in the case of eating disorder whether it’s anorexia or bulimia or other eating disorders, your normal eating routines become interrupted. And it results in either severe weight loss or bringing or other behaviours, that become rewarding.
Because they become habitual and difficult to interrupt, you fail to understand that you have an eating disorder. There is no doubt that there is a genetic contribution, families with history of eating disorders tend to have children who are at higher risk of having eating disorders. But you also know that environment is a factor, the culture of thinness makes dieting more prevalent. And makes young women in particular vulnerable to pursuing a thin ideal. So, thinking about what causes an eating disorder is difficult, because the early stimulus for an eating disorder might be something harmless like starting a diet. But it can also be something troubling or disturbing, that has happened to a person.
But these are the eating disorders, which develops once a person goes beyond dieting or excessive exercise. And the behavioural pattern really develops that it becomes self-sustaining. So, if you think about a rock at the top of a hill, what pushes the rock initially might not be the same thing that withstands the rock. So, similarly all kind of things that sustained the behaviour makes it harder for you to change. You need to develop the habits and behaviours to push rock of your eating disorder out of your life.
How eating disorders are caused by feelings?
You are not alone. Eating disorder is now the third most common chronic disease in teenagers: A study showed that one in four teenagers suffer from significantly disordered eating. It’s not only the teenagers but this disorder is also increasing in middle-aged women, boys and men, basically every age group is under its spell.
Whether the desire is to restrict eating, binge eating or a multitude of concerns about food and weight, the real problem is not food or even weight. This is more do with how you feel and how happy you are. By manipulating your food, you try to dull your emotions and try to gain a false sense of control in your lives. In this way it becomes your way of dealing with the situations and the world. This, however, is only the mask, but this does not solve the problems you are facing.
Behaviours you begin around food, exercise and weight management, initially start as a way to feel better about yourself, to help manage emotions and time – eventually end up controlling you. Nobody starts this with the idea of getting an eating disorder, but this happens, and you have to be careful of this.
Take a note:
Some parents note that, at first, dieting and losing weight make their kids feel good, as they try to achieve a goal. They praise them for their efforts and self-discipline. But, if overtime the demands for meals start becoming a problem, then parents need to make note and take action.
If you have an eating disorder, your family and your friends are all affected by this problem. These can be complex and sometimes life-threatening, affecting all aspects of person’s life. You have no need to keep this confidential and should not feel any shame, as this would turn out to be a terrible situation. This is a common behaviour in girls to hide these things.
Parents need to understand that it is not always the food, it’s how your children feels. This will lead you to help your children in a better and proper way. You can get help for eating disorder from your Doctor.
Kids have an eating disorder, How do I know?
You may wonder how you could tell that your child has an eating disorder. Or what puts your kid at risk of eating disorder. We exactly don’t know what causes an eating disorder, but it seem there are multiple different factors, both genetic and environmental can be the contributing factors. Some of the signs that your child might be developing an eating disorder are.
Sudden change in eating habits.
Like your child who used to eat vegetarian food for every meal is now suddenly hamburgers. Or if they’re cutting out whole food groups, like they won’t eat wheat so they won’t eat desserts or they’re avoiding carbohydrates altogether that might be a red flag.
For a younger child if they’re failing to meet expected growth parameters like gains in height that you would have predicted for their age or if they seem to be growth stunted that can sometimes be a clue.
Some adolescents will follow rigid rules about eating or they’ll become obsessed with food. They may prepare large meals, but then actually not engage in those meals themselves. If you’re concerned about binge eating or bulimia, those adolescents may you may see signs that they have purged or you they may actually hoard food, or you’ll find large quantities of food have gone missing.
How an eating disorder affects the way KIDS thinks?
Eating disorder affect your children’s thinking in different ways.
The most immediate affect is their ability to focus, to concentrate and this is because child’s brain isn’t getting enough food. And when this happens brain thinks about what it needs, which is food. So, people with eating disorders are often preoccupied with thoughts about food and eating in calories and shape and weight. They really find it hard to concentrate on things even when they are really wanting to focus.
Other way it affects kids thinking is, that they begin to believe that the eating disorder is their best friend and they become very protective of it. They don’t want to give it up. And this is something that parents find very confusing when they’re trying to help their child get better. This is why they encounter resistance from the kids, and it becomes hard for parents to understand.
Eating disorder makes it really hard for kids to think clearly, that is why they are unable to make good decisions about their health and eating. They are not able to think in a logical and rational way.
It’s absolutely important for parents to understand that when a child has an eating disorder, they shouldn’t reason with them or try to get them on board. Saying “it’s ok, just eat it, and nothing bad will happen to you” will not work, so it’s really important for you to understand that kid need to get treatment.
Kids with eating disorders can often think very clearly about other aspects of their lives. So, it doesn’t mean that they’re totally irrational in every area, but just in the issues that are related to food and eating and weight and calories. Don’t wait for the child to get on board and understand the importance of healthy eating, give them help they need.
How to help Kids with an eating disorder?
The biggest challenge parents of kids with eating disorder face is, how they can help them. There are no clear strategies for this disorder. You have to clearly understand the underlying issue because you can’t treat this on the surface level. You can start by creating a healthy eating environment in the house. Avoid taking about weight, don’t weigh yourself in front of them. Motivate your kid to be healthy and strong in a friendly manner.
If you are in doubt, take professional help as soon as possible. Because early interventions tends to help kids do better than you letting these things continue without intervention. You can talk to your paediatrician or even a school counsellor sometimes can be a resource. Though eating disorder can affect any child, but girls tend to develop an eating disorders a little bit more frequently than boys.
It is a common time, it’s actually the peak time for development of eating disorders. But sometimes we see younger kids starting to develop these habits, and having body-image. Sports such as gymnastics or figure skating do sometimes place kids at higher risk for having body-image concerns, and ultimately developing eating disorders. If you’re concerned that your child has or is developing an eating disorder, learn more about the signs and symptoms of eating disorders. Ask your local NHS for more advice. Try alternate remedies like yoga or mindfulness, as they can help in a significant way.