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Eating problems in children

eating problems in children
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Show me a parent who, at some point has become exasperated at their child’s eating habits. As parent’s we all worry about our children and being aware of a food problem can be hard to detect. How do you recognise the signs of an eating problem in children and teenagers?

Is there a problem?

Kids of all ages will go through phases when it comes to eating. Toddlers often decide they don’t like a particular food from one day to the next. Kids can be notoriously fussy eaters and teenagers experiment with their diet on a regular basis.

All of these things are completely normal, while they may be annoying and inconvenient for the person doing the cooking, they shouldn’t necessarily be a cause for concern.

Recognising an eating problem

Some of the signs your child may display are either overeating or loss of appetite. Look out for warning signals like obsessively counting calories, constantly weighing themselves or examining their bodies in the mirror. Suddenly wearing baggy clothes, skipping meals, lying about having already eaten and leaving the table straight away could all be potential signs there maybe a problem. People with eating problems may also become obsessed with exercise and you may notice a dramatic weight loss or weight gain in a short space of time. You may also want to check your teenager’s Internet history for visits to ‘pro-anorexia’ websites.

What causes eating problems?

eating problems in childrenExam stress, big changes and feeling like they don’t have much control over their own lives can lead to kids developing eating problems. Issues with weight, poor self-esteem and body image can also be contributing factors. Other things that can make people susceptible to eating problems include: abuse, grief, being criticised about their body or eating habits or a history of mental health issues. Girls are more likely to be affected but boys can also suffer from eating problems and disorders.

Eating disorders

Eating disorders usually develop during the adolescent years. Your teenager may not realise she has an eating disorder, it’s important to tread carefully. Sit her down and tell her why you’re worried. Be prepared for her to go into defence mode, after all controlling her food is her coping mechanism and she may be unwilling to let go of that control.

How to deal with an eating disorder

Try not to judge your child. Let her know she can come to you and that you’ll be there for her and love her no matter what. Avoid mentioning her appearance and focus on other ways of complimenting her and building self-esteem. Attributes like grades, good school reports, kindness, empathy and hobbies can be effective. Talk openly about everyday problems and seek out a counsellor or another trusted adult if you’re child isn’t comfortable confiding in you.

Conditions such as anorexia and bulimia are serious and will need treatment from medical professionals, it’s important that your teenager sees a GP who will be able to refer her for specialist treatment.

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About Maria Brett

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About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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