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Warning Signs for Bulimia in Kids and Teens

Apr 15, 2008
I have been ask the question about eating disorder bulimia so many times by lots of worried parents who think their child may have bulimia but don't know any of the warning signs.

If you are one of these parents then here is a list of things to look out for, I will start with simple things first:

1: Look for an excessive amount of food that is missing. Things like packets of biscuits you have just bought and they have disappeared overnight. Packets of sweets are gone without you even having one yourself. Look for easy accessible foods that seem to be gone faster than what is normal for your family use.

2: The child is starting to act unusual around meal times. Being a bit anxious and not wanting to eat certain food groups, or may play with their food. They may say they have eaten at a friends place but then start to raid the food cupboard for easy food soon after dinner.

3: You notice that the child may have lots of food rappers in their bedroom hidden under the bed or in their trash basket. Half eaten candy bars or potato crisp packets hidden in places that are unusual.

4: The child may start to miss family gatherings or not want to go out to events where they normally would have, like picnics or parties preferring to stay home. Even making excuses they feel ill or have a headache.

5: The child may start to do more exercise that they use to do. Go for long runs or bike rides and start to really push themselves to the extreme.

These are all little things but point to a change in the child's habits although you can't come to the conclusion that your child has bulimia from these alone. You need more concrete evidence to go with these before you can be sure.

Bulimics normally become very good at hiding their condition from family and friends. Bulimia has been described as secretive and sneaky and it most certainly is.

So you as a parent have to become just as sneaky if you suspect your child of this disorder.

Here are some more concrete things to look out for.

1: The child after finishing their meal disappears to the bathroom for a long time. This starts to become a habit and is a surefire clue to the child being bulimic.

2: You notice the smell of toothpaste on their breath when they come from the bathroom, or a sour smell on their breath.

3: You start to find laxatives in their bedroom or empty packets in their trash bin.

4: They start to become really edgy and anxious for no apparent reason and may start telling you to mind your own business if you say anything to them. They act out of character towards you.

5: They start to look sickly and feel the cold more that was normal for them. They may start having problems with their teeth or complain of a sore throat all the time.

6: They start to become obsessed with there weight and are looking at the bathroom scales all the time, or asking you if they look fat or looking in the mirror more that they use to do.

If you noticed a number of these symptoms together then there is a good chance your child may have Bulimia. But do not simply confront them as this can drive the child away or warn them you are on to them, so they may become even sneakier.

You should educate yourself first from people who have faced what you are facing now. There are some books which can help and also many places to contact.

To conclude, your education about eating disorders is the key to your child healthy future.
About the Author
Dr Irina Webster MD is the Director of Women Health Issues Program which covers different areas of Women Health. She is a recognised athority in the eating disorders area. She is an author of many books and a public speaker.learn more about eating disorders at http://www.mom-please-help.com
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