Does My Child Have an Eating Disorder

Some children are at greater risk for developing an eating disorder. A child who feels badly themselves and about the way they look can be at greater risk. Your child may have perfectionist tendencies that extend into feeling they need to also look perfect all the time, a look that tends to be the kind of ‘thin ideal’ perpetuated in the media.

Your child may have a difficult time expressing feelings, or may feel s/he has no control in significant areas of her life. The eating disorder may give a child that sense of control and become a means of helping her or him cope with difficulties.

Children who have eating disorders find creative ways to hide them from their parents.

Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Does your child restrict food intake, count calories, only eat what they perceive as healthy foods, (very often foods without fat content) and spend an excessive amount of time thinking and talking about food?
  • Does your child appear obsessed about food, dieting and weight?
  • Does your child make frequent trips to the bathroom after eating?
  • Does your child show obvious changes in weight or talk about feeling fat regardless of weight? Weigh herself frequently and obsessively?
  • Does your child have physical signs that his body isn’t getting enough nutrients, such as dizziness, lack of energy, hair loss or dry skin.
  • Does your child avoid eating, skip meals, deny being hungry when you know she hasn’t eaten, eat in secret?
  • Does your child exercise so much that it worries you, particularly when you know he doesn’t take in enough calories to sustain that level of exercise?
  • Does your child layer or wear baggy clothes to disguise her weight loss?
  • Does your child miss her menstrual periods?
  • Does your child show excessive tooth decay, damaged tooth enamel, or other dental problems that you can’t really think of a reason for?