Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine: Eating Disorders (Video Transcript)
Pediatrician Paula Cody, MD, of American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, says some eating disorders become evident as ostensibly healthy dietary changes spiraling out of control.
Watch Dr. Cody's video, or read the transcript below:
It can be difficult at the beginning to decipher what is an eating disorder versus what is normal self-consciousness and dieting behavior that comes with the changing bodies in adolescents. But as the eating disorder progresses, the red flags can get more obvious.
Some of these red flags include a change in eating behavior. Where people will skip meals or make up reasons why they're not eating. I had a big meal earlier. My stomach hurts. I just brushed my teeth. You may also see what people generally think of as healthy eating behaviors that are spiraling out of control. For example, people skip -- decreasing fat intake. Skipping deserts. Or trying to go vegetarian or organic. These can be -- truly they can be good health decisions, but when -- they can spiral out of control and become an eating disorder.
You may see changes in mood, where they're more irritable. They may avoid activities that center around food, like birthday parties; pizza parties. You may see binging behaviors where the food that you know that you bought has now disappeared or you find in their room lots of wrappers. You may see purging behaviors, where they're going to the bathroom immediately after meals.
And you may not hear them actually making themselves sick, because they're running water. They're taking showers. Bu they're very good at hiding the behaviors that they want to hide. Part of the eating disorder is that they are covering up what they do and they are in extreme denial. No one's going to say, hey mom, I think I have anorexia nervosa and I need to see a doctor.
So gently question your child about his or her behaviors. And if you're really concerned, bring them to a physician. It takes a multidisciplinary team to care for eating disorders. Including mental health. Dietician. And medical health -- or physician. And the sooner that you identify these behaviors; the sooner you bring your loved one in to get help, the better the prognosis for the eating disorder.