Focus on the Family

Reading the Signs of Eating Disorders

It's crucial for parents to know the signs of an eating disorder.

from Focus on the Family's Youth Culture department

Work. School. Soccer practice. Computer club. Church committee meetings. Does any of this sound familiar? You understand the breathtakingly full life of a busy family — because you're living it. But amid the hustle, some things are priorities, and mealtime is one of them. As often as you can, you make sure that your family sits down for dinner together. And that's where the mystery starts. Lately, your 14-year-old daughter has been disappearing into the bathroom after dinner. She's also completely obsessed with her weight and the teeny-tiny jeans she just bought. At first you chalked it up to "normal teenage stuff," but now you're not so sure.

You're worried that she may have an eating disorder, but you don't want to blow things out of proportion. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you're not alone. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) reports that over 8 million people suffer from an eating disorder in the United States alone. And that means that their families suffer along with them.

How can you tell?

Early detection of an eating disorder may spare a teenager years of significant misery and disruption in his or her life. Take a moment and think about your teenager's behavior and the following signs of a possible eating disorder:

If you suspect your teen is showing signs of an eating disorder, don't delay. Consult with a qualified professional and get your teen the help he or she needs for the diagnostic and recovery process.