As I mentioned in my last post, there are lots more behaviors to be aware of as a parent or a friend of someone who might be suffering from eating disorders. These behaviors may seem normal to the untrained eye, but to someone who has experienced this disorder first hand, they are red flags to watch for in your children.
If you see your child exhibiting any of these behaviors, I suggest you intervene before it’s too late. These eating disorders take hold and get out of control fairly quickly, and the longer a person has the disease, the better they become at masking the behaviors.
Here are a few more behaviors to look for in your child:
- Wearing baggy clothes. I always wore baggy clothes for a couple of reasons: 1. I knew that what I was doing was wrong and my parents would figure it out if they saw my bones protruding and 2.I hated tight clothing. I hated the feeling of it against my body. It only served to remind me of my flaws.
- Always saying they need to lose five more pounds. I’ve never met a person with an eating disorder who thought they were at their ideal weight. It’s a moving target. Just when we get to what had been our perfect weight, we look in the mirror and think we need to lose five more pounds. We always think we’re fat. You cannot tell us otherwise. We won’t believe you.
- Spending a lot of time alone. I loved being alone because I could hide what I was doing and not have to be inconvenienced by having to try to lie to anyone.
- Acting very meticulous and methodical about eating. People with eating disorders are consumed with what they eat, when they eat, how much they eat, what kinds of foods they eat, where they eat, and who they eat with. We think everything that goes in our mouths will end up as fat. We weigh every option in our minds before we ever take a bite. I can’t tell you how many times I avoided my favorite foods because it was simply not worth the extra time and effort that I would have to expend to burn those calories. I’d prefer to just restrict myself.
- Always finding an excuse to leave the table early. Eating out of sight allows us to binge, purge, or just not eat at all.
- Being a perfectionist. I was the straight ‘A’ student who wanted everything to be perfect, and when it wasn’t, I needed to control the chaos. As an adolescent, sometimes the only thing that you truly control is what you consume. Eating was the one thing that I was always in control of.
I was very lucky. I survived to tell others. Not everyone does. If you see these behaviors in any of your children, keep an eye on them. They may be headed for trouble. Contact your pediatrician for what to do next. For me, it took psychiatric and psychological therapy, as well as a sincere desire to stop.
The most important part is to support and love your child with an eating disorder because, without that, stopping can seem an insurmountable task.