When people talk about eating disorders, an overeating disorder is not usually what comes to mind. While overeating disorders are not as common as some other eating disorders, they are just as harmful to your teen’s health and well-being. Read on to find out what you need to know about overeating disorder in teen girls, and what you can do to help your child.
What Is Overeating Disorder?
Overeating disorders are often referred to as binge eating. The phenomenon is defined as eating large quantities of food ― more than what is needed ― in one sitting. A teen with a binge eating disorder will binge at least once a week, over a period of three months or more, and will feel as if she can’t stop or control it.
A young woman may experience a feeling of “zoning out” while she eats. Afterward, she may feel shame, guilt or other unpleasant feelings. Quite often, teens with this disorder binge eat when they aren’t even hungry. This is usually done when they are alone, and they may keep eating, even to the point of being physically miserable.
This disorder is different from other eating disorders because sufferers don’t purge (vomit), nor do they over-exercise or use laxatives. This typically leads to obesity and increased risks to their health, including diabetes and heart disease. The social consequences of this disorder are significant as well, and may include stress, trouble maintaining friendships and exhausted mental energy, all because of their obsession with food.
What to Look for in Your Teen
Young women suffering from overeating disorder want to hide their behaviors. Consequently, it may be difficult for parents to recognize the signs. Symptoms of this disorder include having large amounts of food in the home that seem to vanish, finding empty food wrappers in trash cans or snack stashes in your teen’s room, in her backpack, car, the garage or some other place around the house. You may also notice that your child gets up in the night to binge or that her weight seems to fluctuate. Binge eaters may suddenly gain a large amount of weight, seemingly without explanation.
Eating quirks are another sign. If your teen hardly eats at meals, eats very quickly or refuses certain foods, this may be a sign of a problem. Also, your child may seem depressed or anxious or have social problems at school, such as being bullied or teased. For these teens, eating can be a way of coping with emotional issues. Half of all teens with eating disorders also suffer from depression.
How to Help Your Teen with an Eating Disorder
If you think your daughter may suffer from an overeating disorder, it is important to seek professional treatment immediately. Havenwood Academy offers residential treatment programs designed to address eating disorders in young women. Their compassionate experiential therapy programs help your child develop a healthy relationship with food while addressing any underlying issues that may have contributed to the problem. Contact Havenwood today to discuss anorexia, bulimia or overeating disorder.