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Ways to Decide if Your Teen has an Eating Disorder

A common theme amongst teens with their emotional status and the need of always being right, is knowing if they are actually in a state of crisis or if they are merely going through a phase of teenageritis. Along with their snarky attitude, self-image can be another point of contention with them. Teens like to be in the know of the latest trends of clothes and accessories, so they can look good especially with their peers. This can lead them to take drastic measures with their looks to fit in with the group people they are endlessly trying to impress. Some teens could begin using eating disorders to keep them from gaining weight or to lose what they consider their baby weight which can become detrimental to their health. Eating disorders can be caused for many reasons due to environmental, social, psychological, and biological factors that make the adolescent period the most at risk for onset. The intense physical and hormonal changes that take place in the body often causes low self-esteem, confusion, and self-consciousness that leads to an eating disorder as a solution. Since teens typically keep their folks out of the loop with most things in their life, parents may not be aware of some of the subtle signs that their kids are displaying when it comes to their eating disorder. By getting informed on some of the lesser known symptoms of an eating disorder, parents may be able to help them much quicker if the situation does come up.

Develops food rituals

  • Cutting food into small bites.
  • Arranging food in a specific order on the plate.
  • Weighing and measuring foods before consumption.
  • Eating only at specific times or places.
  • Religiously counting calories or keeping to a certain caloric limit.


  • Not wanting to eat around others.
  • Withdrawing from friends, social activities, and family.

Secretive eating

  • Finding wrappers or containers stashed in the teen's room.
  • Large quantities of food quickly disappearing out of the refrigerator and cupboards.

Body Insecurity

  • Consistent talk about the need to lose weight or how fat they are.
  • Persistent negative thinking directly related to body image.  
  • Constantly weighing themselves or looking in the mirror.    
Some of the signs are part of being a teenager, but if they are to the extreme there should be some concern to investigate further. Although teens may be able to hide that they are starving themselves, binging and purging, over exercising, and overeating, these lesser known signs can become obvious indicators that an eating disorder is taking place in the home. Eating disorders can become deadly if not treated so looking for the signs and being an assertive parent for treatment can help your teen to heal from their experiences.

Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center leads the way with progressive, evidence-based programming to most effectively treat each individual adolescent while focusing on the uniqueness of each client. Healing the mind, the body, and the spirit as one in the same can make the biggest difference in staying sober.

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