Week 27 -- "Understanding eating disorders" -- Grade 12

Week 27 -- "Understanding eating disorders" -- Grade 12

Suite360 Student Lesson Name: Understanding eating disorders.

Brief Summary: Eating disorders are caused by a variety of factors, including heredity. Teens may have been depressed about an event in their lives, or family disharmony. There are many other factors that can cause these disorders to begin, but they are all categorized by a person’s desire to control one thing in their lives. Without proper treatment, especially in women, eating disorders like anorexia can result in death — either from complications related to starvation or suicide. Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating...these are all examples of eating disorders, where a  teen might be looking to find control of one aspect of their lives. How do you know if your teen is struggling with an eating disorder?

Shared vocabulary: None

Key Takeaways:

  • Besides anorexia, bulimia and binge eating are just as dangerous. If you see your teen eating normally, but then throwing up almost immediately after a meal, you have cause for worry. They have said something didn’t agree with them the first few times, but after every single meal should be a red flag. 
  • It’s important to Watch and listen for the signs is crucial to detecting a problem. Sitting at family dinner, you can watch your teen eat. If they just push food around — at every single meal — there may be a problem. 
  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, teens with anorexia have tremendous body image issues. They feel that they are overweight and will refuse to maintain a healthy weight. Teens suffering from anorexia will develop complications from starving their body of the right nutrients. This will eventually lead to organ failure and death if there is no intervention. 
  • Teens suffering from bulimia are harder to observe for symptoms. They usually maintain a normal or healthy weight. However, they, too, are struggling with body image. They may binge eat to the point of excessive eating, and then throw up what they ate. Teens with bulimia feel they lose control when they binge and the only way to fix it is through throwing up, starvation after the incident or excessive exercise. Complications from vomiting include inflamed throat and esophagus, dehydration, and intestinal distress from laxative abuse.
  • Teens that binge eat are also hard to observe for symptoms. They will often binge eat by themselves, or hide food away from others. They also report being out of control. 
  • As with many mental disorders, treatment is a whole body approach. Your teen will need nutritional counseling, therapy, medical intervention to address the damage done to the body from these behaviors.
  • Eating disorders are not the end of the world.  As long as your teen is getting the help that they need they can come out of this struggle.  Seek assistance to help you with this process.  

Continue the Conversation:  Here are some easy ways to approach the subject with your teen.

  • Choose a time where you can have a one on one conversation.
  • Be honest and focus on what you have observed that concern you.
  • Make sure to stick to the facts of what you have seen and don’t over simplify the situation or the solutions.
  • Be prepared for a variety of different reactions.  
  • It is important to make sure that you seek medical advice on how to approach your child.  Your pediatrician knows your child and can help you find the right approach.

Additional resources/suggested reading: