Well balanced diet is the cornerstone of health. An adequate diet is also essential for children because it provides with all nutrients, vitamins and minerals necessary for proper growth and development of children. It is normal for a child to go through food phases or become a picky eater. However, if there is a drastic change in the child's eating habits parents may suspect that their child is suffering from an eating disorder.
Children may suffer from several eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. These disorders commonly affect teens but they may also affect even younger children. Being familiar with the problem makes parent capable enough to recognize symptoms and signs of eating disorders and to take their child to the pediatrician in the early phase of the disease.
How to Prevent Eating Disorders in Children?
Eating disorders are not so common for very young children. They generally occur between the age of 11 and 13. At this age children begin to be aware of their physical appearance, they become interested in the opposite sex and they follow fashion as well as other trends. During this period of life girls start to develop breasts and their figure becomes more curvy. They are also prone to retain a little more weight which makes them very susceptible to eating disorders.
There are several ways how parents may prevent the onset of an eating disorder at this age. They should insist on a healthy diet, encourage appropriate amount of exercise, bare dieting and try to help their children in case of any problem. Parents should also pay good attention on their children's thoughts on weight and body image. They must encourage children to have realistic expectations when it comes to healthy weight and image. And finally, talents and skills of each and every child must be praised and the very children must be loved and valued.
Signs of Eating Disorders in Children
Most children can successfully camouflage signs of eating disorders for many months or even years. Some of the potential signs of eating disorders in children include significant weight loss/ gain, continuous dieting or discussions of dieting, extreme fear of weight gain, persistent preoccupation with food and eating and persistent preoccupation with fashion and clothes sizes. These children may eat alone and in secret, they can also hide food or take laxatives and diuretics and sometimes they may vomit on regular bases (this way they get rid of the food which may cause weight gain). Some children may exercise too much in order to burn all the extra calories.
Since children suffering from eating disorders will never realize they have a problem. It is on parents to be careful and recognize the disorder on time. In case parents assume their child is suffering from an eating disorder they should consult the child's pediatrician. Additional help is obtained from psychologists and psychiatrists as well as other professionals who deal with eating disorders.