Title: Is My Kid Developing an Eating Disorder?
00:00:00 Speaker 1
You. Is your teenager developing an eating disorder? Well, let's talk about that today on Tips
on Teens. My name is Kent Toussant. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize
in helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations teen Therapy
Center and the nonprofit 501 c three organization, child and Teen Counseling, both here in
Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump into Facebook Live to answer your
parenting questions. Let's jump into today's. As the summer has winded down, I've noticed
my daughter has started eating less at dinner time. She's also been talking about doing some
kind of keto diet or something. She won't be specific about what she wants to eat, just that she
doesn't like what we have in our house. I feel like she's becoming really image conscious because
of going back to school and being seen by other kids and boys again. How do I know if she's going
too far? She's still a healthy weight for her age 15,
00:01:03 Speaker 1
but I don't want it to get out of control. What are the warning signs and what can I do as a parent?
Thank you for your question. I'm seeing this grow more and more, especially as kids have been
away from school for the last year and a half now they're coming back and some of their bodies
have changed and they're uncomfortable. Eating disorders are a big deal. They are not a fad
or a phase your kid's going to go through and grow out of. If your daughter is developing an eating
issue, it's important and needs to be addressed carefully and responsibly. Here are some signs
now restricting her diet. Eating less at dinner, having a very restricted diet that she will
only adhere to, especially if she's not really communicating to you what? That is just she's
not going to eat the food in the house. These are all signs. I'm concerned about these signs.
Other things you may want to look out for are is she eating in secret when she is eating with you
at the table? Does she get up off and go to the
00:02:00 Speaker 1
bathroom? Is she possibly going to the bathroom and purging, which is hopefully she's not,
but it's something to consider and she's becoming more body image conscious. Is she constantly
comparing herself in the negative to Instagram models and other friends and this and that?
Is she always seeing herself as negative in that body image issue? There's so many different
possible red flags you can go over. I can't go over all of them. Obviously, these are just a few
of many, but I think this is something that you need to address and address soon. This is not a
logical problem. You cannot address this problem by saying, hey, here's a healthy meal plan
set up by a nutritionist. Just follow this, problem solved. That's not going to work because
it's not a logical problem. It's an emotional issue. An eating disorder is a symptom of you could
look at it as it's a symptom of unresolved emotional trauma or emotional emotions that are so
uncomfortable that your child is finding a maladaptive way to
00:03:02 Speaker 1
cope with it by imposing control on what she eats. And of course it's an unhealthy way and it's
a vicious cycle. You also want to look out for things like possible self harm. Is she cutting
or scratching herself? Eating disorder can be seen as a form of self harm and it can metastasize
as many different ways of self harm. Scratching, cutting, pinching, burning, all kinds of
things. So be aware of those things. If she's constantly wearing big, heavy, baggy clothes,
won't go in the pool, won't get undressed in front of her mom, any of those things. Something
may be up, and you may want to have her. In fact, not. May I encourage you to go see the pediatrician
for a full physical checkup, make sure her blood work is okay? Even if her body weight is still
at a normal, quote unquote, normal range, that doesn't mean that she's healthy. She may be in
a very unhealthy place. I encourage you to find a therapist who works with teens, has some experience
with eating disorders to really help her work
00:04:04 Speaker 1
through this. Because again, food is not the cause. The food is the symptom or the lack of food.
How she deals with food is a symptom. So the more she can go into and dive into the emotions and
her self conscious, I'm sorry, the self image and she can explore that it gives her more choice
and how she wants to cope with this. And hopefully you can deal with this early because if not
dealt early, if it really wraps tornadoes into a big eating disorder, it's something she may
have deal with her whole life just like someone who is an alcohol addict. They may be sober for
20 years, but they still have to deal with those addiction issues. And hopefully we can help
your daughter nip this in the bud so she can have a healthy relationship with food because it's
an important part of food is important part of our life. Hopefully it's something that we all
really enjoy. Even if your kid is overeating compulsively overeating, that's not an enjoyable
experience. That is a horrible experience for most
00:05:03 Speaker 1
people who are overeating. So again, have her checked out by pediatrician. If you work with
a nutritionist, that's fine. Make sure they are emotionally aware of what's going on and have
a therapist who's involved in this too to help support your daughter. Thank you so much for your
question. It's a big question, obviously can't solve all this issue in just one small little
video. But hopefully this gets you on the road to getting her support and you support and hopefully
you don't fall in the pit traps of telling her what to eat or how to eat because it's just going
to make things worse. Thanks again. My name is Kent Toussaint from Teen Therapy Center and Child
and Teen Counseling. If you have a question you'd like me to answer here on tips on teens, email
us at email@example.com. Thanks for your questions. Have a great week and I'll
see you next Wednesday. Bye. Bye, guys. Bye.
Take Action Quickly
If you suspect you teen may be developing an eating disorder, you need to take action promptly. Eating disorders aren’t just a fad or faze your kid is going through. They’re a big deal that need to be addressed carefully and responsibly or they can develop into lifelong problems.
It’s important to know that eating disorders are an emotional problem, and parents can’t address them with just logic. Eating disorders are often a symptom of unresolved emotional trauma or emotions that are so uncomfortable that your kids are finding a maladaptive way to deal with them. An eating disorder is a form of self harm just like cutting, scratching or burning. Parents often fall into the trap of trying to tell their kids how or what to eat and it almost always backfires.
Dive into the issues
We encourage you to go see a pediatrician for a full check up and find a therapist who works with teens that has some experience with eating disorders. The more he or she can dive into the emotions and self image issues, the more you can give them choices of how to deal with it.
Here’s this week’s Tips on Teens question:
“As the summer has winded down I’ve noticed my daughter has started eating less at dinner time. She’s also been talking about doing some kind of Keto diet or something. She won’t be specific about what she wants to eat, just that she doesn’t like what we have in our house. I feel like she’s become really image conscious because of going back to school and being seen by other kids and boys again. How do I know if she’s going too far? She’s still a healthy weight for her age (15) right now, but I don’t want it to get out of control. What are the warning signs and what can I do as a parent?”
Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.