Holiday Festivities Can Reveal Eating Disorders: 8 Questions to Ask

Eating Disorders: A Hidden Epidemic

  • What parents need to know

  • The warning signs of an eating disorder

  • What we can do to help our daughters
  • A time for celebration and feasting, itís no wonder the holidays are synonymous with good tidings and cheer. But for millions of children and teens with eating disorders, these times are anything but merry. Approximately 87 percent of people with eating disorders are under age 20, says Abigail H. Natenshon, M.A., L.C.S.W., author of When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder: A Step-By-Step Workbook for Parents and Other Caregivers (Jossey Bass Publishers, 1999). Most of these kids, sadly, will anticipate the upcoming food, family and togetherness with fear and dread, she says.

    But holiday festivities can offer parents a unique opportunity to identify early signs of eating disorders in children, which can be difficult to spot because they may appear fairly normal in our weight-obsessed and health-conscious society. Still, there are telltale signs to look for. Observe your childís eating habits this holiday season and ask yourself the following questions.†

    Does my child:

    • NT-FAMILY: 'New York'">dread family gatherings or withdraw to her room when relatives arrive?

  • NT-FAMILY: 'New York'">seem moody and irritable when food is served?

  • bring her own food to family gatherings?

  • pick at foods, cut foods into tiny pieces and refuse to eat certain foods or eat in the company of others?

  • claim to have already eaten or not to be hungry during mealtimes?

  • disappear into the bathroom during or just after meals?

  • say she is fat even though she is of a normal weight or thin?

  • feel the need to exercise excessively, particularly after eating?

  • rmal>Of course, not all eating quirks are precursors to clinical eating disorders, reminds Natenshon. However, if you notice a pattern developing, it may be time to speak with your pediatrician.

    rmal>See also:

  • Know the warning signs of an eating disorder

  • What we can do to help our daughters

    For more information on identifying and seeking treatment for eating disorders, check out the following resources:

    rmal>Nourishing Messages: Recognizing Eating†Disorders

    rmal>Disorderly Conduct: The Warning Signs of Eating Disorders

    rmal>National Eating Disorders Association

    Harvard Eating Disorders Center

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