Teenagers and eating disorders

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Is your teen hiding something from you? Teenagers and eating disorders are quite common especially with peer pressure. Read on to spot the symptoms.

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Know if your teen is suffering from eating disorder

Emma was a sweet, happy little girl who loved to swim, play with her Barbie dolls and whose life goal at age four was to be Ariel from the “Little Mermaid” someday. No one would have ever believed that just a few short years later Emma would be struggling with an eating disorder.

When Emma was 12, her extreme criticism of herself began. She wouldn’t wear anything but sloppy shorts and t-shirts (even though she loved pretty clothes) and began to disappear into the bathroom right after each meal.

Basic facts about eating disorders

An eating disorder-specifically anorexia or bulimia-is the act of starving or purging your body of food. Eating disorders usually surface in adolescent girls in their early teens, but the last few years have seen girls as young as 9 or 10 adopt this destructive and dangerous behavior. If you don’t believe that, look at the following statistics from the United Sates National Assoc. of Anorexia and Bulimia:

  • 42% of girls age 7 to 9 want to be thinner
  • 80% of 10 year old girls are afraid of being fat
  • 50% of girls age 13-15 consider themselves overweight
  • 95% of people with an eating disorder are between the ages of 12-25
  • 25% of teenage girls suffer with an eating disorder
  • Nearly 10% of those with eating disorders will die from their disorder within 10 years
  • 30 to 40% of those with eating disorders fully recover
  • Only 1% of those with eating disorders are boys

Why?

 Eating disorders are brought on by a number of reasons, but most of these reasons come back to one main fact: the young lady who develops an eating disorder is a young lady with poor self-esteem.

Poor self-esteem can result from physical and emotional abuse, stress brought on by the break-up of a home due to divorce, abandonment by a parent or social stresses such as bullying. The media should also be ‘awarded’ a great big ‘guilty’ verdict when it comes to messing with a young girl’s self-esteem. The pressures put on girls to look a certain way, dress a certain way and be a certain weight are unbelievable, unrealistic and unfair; often resulting in an eating disorder.

Remember Emma? Emma’s dark hair and eyes, her sun-kissed skin and just-right weight were as perfect as one could be. But Emma didn’t think so. Remember all those Barbie dolls she’d played with? In spite of a mom and 3 older sisters who were also healthy, attractive and without weight issues, Emma saw herself as inadequate because she didn’t develop into a Barbie-like young lady (her own admission). Now I’m not saying that Barbie dolls are evil or that they shouldn’t be played with, but I am saying there should be some discussion about the unrealistic way she looks.

The result of poor self-esteem is to do whatever it takes (starving or purging) to conform. But the need to conform soon becomes distorted. There comes a point when an eating disorder becomes a method of control…and addiction to control.

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Read on to find out on the dangers of eating disorders

Food Parenting Advice by BRAND'S® AlphaMynd Teen Development