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08-09 How to deal with binge eating disorder in teens

Posted in eating disorders


How to deal with binge eating disorder in teens

Sara’s mother often noticed large quantities of food missing from her kitchen. When she asked her teenaged daughter about it, she denied having any knowledge of the same. However, keeping a tab on Sara’s movements made her realize the truth behind frequent vanishing of food items. Later, Sara was diagnosed with binge eating disorder (BED).

Incidents similar to the one quoted above are quite common in American households. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 2.7 percent of adolescents in the age group of 13 to 17 years are living with some kind of eating disorders. Though the number of teenagers with BED is not clear, experts maintain that this problem is quite common across the nation. Though it may not be advisable to jump to sudden conclusions about the possibility of a mental health disorder in one’s teenager. However, a close observation of how a teen behaves when offered food and his/her eating habits may help one understand if the affected needs immediate help.

How to identify symptoms of BED?

Parents and guardians need to look out for certain telltale signs that can help them know if their teenager is afflicted with BED. Some of them may include:

  • Large amounts of food disappearing in a short period of time;
  • Affected teenager shies away from eating in front of other people;
  • Suffering adolescents tend to exhibit a feeling of strong disapproval for their body;
  • Teenagers living with BED tend to be overweight or obese, though it does not imply that all cases of obesity must be attributed to BED;
  • Afflicted teenagers’ attitude about food is akin to contempt and disrespect.

The manifestation of these symptoms, all or some of them, indicates that the teenager is suffering from BED and needs help. It is necessary that guardians realize the need to avail best treatment options for their emotionally disoriented teenagers as ignoring the warning signs may result in repeated instances of excessive eating. Examination of gender variance in suffering teenagers reveals females at similar risk of diagnosis with BED as their male counterparts.

Teenagers with BED frequently complain that bingeing on food gives them temporary relief from stress, sadness, hopelessness and loneliness, in addition to other unpleasant emotions. Nevertheless, post bingeing, sad feelings manage to creep into their minds and often with greater severity than before.

Choosing recovery over ignorance

Lack of timely treatment may result in disastrous consequences. Parents must understand that overeating is neither a lifestyle choice nor any weakness of character, rather it is a mental illness that can be treated only with expert advice and medical intervention. Surveys show that many teenagers diagnosed with BED also tend to abuse illicit substances, while some suffer from depression too. Such teenagers find it difficult to share their emotional problems owing to lack of self-esteem.

Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego understands the plight of an adolescent with BED and provides specific treatment for binge eating disorder. Parents and guardians should be watchful of the eating habits of their children. If your teen has disordered eating habits, call our 24/7 helpline number to speak to our representative to know more about our residential programs for troubled teens. Making a wise choice of seeking recovery from such problems will help those affected live a normal life.

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