How To Tell If Your Child Is Anorexic

Eating disorders don’t develop overnight.

Usually, they start out as an attempt to be healthier and then turn into a diet that gets stricter and more regimented over time. You may think that you’d be able to tell if your child were anorexic, but sometimes the disease can sneak up on you. Here are some tips on how to recognize the warning signs of anorexia.

Cutting Out All Meat or All Fat

This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but if it becomes obsessive (e.g., not even trying a bite of something with meat or fat in it), it could be a problem. Anorexia often starts with the person cutting out one whole food group. As the disorder progresses, more and more food groups are cut out of the diet.

Eating Only During Certain Times

Having a structured eating schedule can be perfectly normal, even helpful. However, if your child MUST stop eating all solid foods at 6 p.m., there could be an issue. Many people with anorexia only eat during very specific times, and if they miss that time, they don’t eat until the next meal time comes around.

Cutting Food into Very Small Pieces

Because people with anorexia don’t eat very much or very often, they try to make meals last longer by chopping food into very small bites. Another reason that this is popular among anorexics is that chopped food can be spread around and arranged to look like more than it really is, helping to hide the fact that there isn’t much food there at all.

Eating Strange Foods, Using a Lot of Hot Sauce

A telltale sign of anorexia is the overuse of hot sauce. If your child is eating a lot of steamed veggies and hot sauce, or a lot of plain meat with just mustard or ketchup, it may be because these condiments are the lowest in calories, and they can give intense flavor to even the blandest of foods. Hot sauce is especially popular for anorexics because it is rumored to speed up your metabolism and make you feel fuller faster.

There are, of course, many other warning signs, as each person develops anorexia differently. The best way to make sure your child isn’t developing an eating disorder is to keep an open line of communication going, making sure to listen without judgement. And if you’re really worried about your child’s eating, take him or her to a doctor. You can never be too careful!

Eating Disorder Self Test. Take the EAT-26 self test to see if you might have eating disorder symptoms that might require professional evaluation. All answers are confidential.

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