7 SIGNS TO SPOT CHILD RESTRICTIVE EATING DISORDER | CHILDREN & FAMILY
1. Weight Stagnation or Weight Loss
Children who are still developing will naturally gain weight as they get older. If you notice your child isn’t gaining weight or has lost weight, it could indicate that they are trying to control their weight through restrictive behaviour.
2. Weight Fluctuation
Although some weight fluctuation can be normal throughout development, patterns of weight gain and weight loss are not. Usually, the gain and loss of weight will be quite noticeable and you, your family, or their friends may have commented on your child’s weight differences.
If your child is struggling with anxiety they may also feel a loss of control. Signs of anxiety include irritability, feeling of tension or dread, poor sleeping patterns, and nervous habits. Children who are body conscious may have anxiety that revolves around their body image such as the fear of being fat. If your child is self-conscious about their own body, they may project their insecurities onto others and make judgemental remarks about other people’s bodies or food habits.
4. Unusual Food Behaviours
While many children have food avoidances (or are picky eaters), children who restrict their food to lose weight typically display specific behaviours or nervous habits. These include:
- Including avoiding mealtimes with the rest of the family
- Holding or hiding food
- Regularly cutting food into tiny portions
- Refusing to eat
- Using large quantities of condiments
- Insisting on using certain utensils
- liminating entire categories of food for non-medial reason (dairy, wheat, meat etc.)
5. Withdrawal from activities (especially ones that involve food)
If your child has seemed to lose interest in going out with family or friends it may be a sign they are trying to avoid situations that involve food. It is likely that they are trying to hide their food behaviours from others and events such as going out to dinner with friends will cause them to be anxious or agitated.
6. Interest in cooking and nutrition
Perhaps contradictory, an increase in the desire to cook or bake can be a sign or an eating disorder. However, while they may be interested in cooking, they will not be interested in eating the food and may offer the food to other family members instead. Sudden or increased interest in nutrition may also signal irregular behaviour. Examples include reading food labels or insisting on shopping for groceries.
7. Excessive exercise or compulsive exercise
Children who have a fear of gaining weight might also increase the amount or intensity of exercise. Behaviours might include stair walking, extra walk/runs, and firmly adhering to regimented exercise regime even if injuries or sickness.
If you believe your child may be suffering from an eating disorder it is important you reach out. We understand that it is important to work collaboratively with both your child and their role models. We are well equipped to provide well-rounded nutritional and psychological support for your and your child. Our team at WeightMatters can help give guidance to you and your family.
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