While many eating disorders are diagnosed in the teen and early adult years, a person of any age can struggle with an eating disorder. In some cases, women who previously struggled with eating habits may return to the behavior postpartum. The Mayo Clinic defines an eating disorder as a serious condition related to persistent eating behaviors that negatively impact your health, your emotions, and your ability to function in important areas of life. Eating disorders may harm the body, including the heart, digestive system, bones, teeth and mouth, as well as leading to other health and social issues. An eating disorder may also negatively impact the body’s ability to get nutrition.

According to the Mayo Clinic, someone with an eating disorder may present one or more of the following behaviors:
  • Skipping meals or making excuses for not eating.
  • Adopting an overly restrictive diet, including vegetarian or paleo.
  • Excessively focusing on healthy eating.
  • Making own meals rather than eating what the family eats.
  • Withdrawing from normal social activities.
  • Persistent worrying or complaining about being fat and talking of losing weight.
  • Frequent checking in the mirror for perceived flaws.
  • Repeatedly eating large amounts of sweets or high-fat foods.
  • Using of dietary supplements, laxatives, or herbal products for weight loss.
  • Excessively exercising.
  • Calluses on the knuckles from inducing vomiting.
  • Problems with losing tooth enamel that may be a sigh of repeated vomiting.
  • Leaving during meals to use the toilet.
  • Eating much more food in a meal or snack than is considered normal.
  • Expressing depression, disgust, shame or guilt about eating habits.
  • Eating in secret.

Diagnosis of an eating disorder may occur through a physical exam, psychological evaluation, or other studies. Treatment may include psychotherapy, weight normalization and nutrition education, or in extreme cases, hospitalization may be required. If you think your child may have an eating disorder, you should speak with their health care provider.

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