Teen Eating Disorders
There are two very common teen eating disorders that are wreaking havoc with many teen lives. The two major disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia. They result primarily from psychological factors.
Teenagers are at a stage in life when self esteem issues and rapidly changing bodies create high levels of stress. Teens are subject to peer pressure also, which often leads them astray. The result is, many teenagers turn to the abuse of food as a solution to their problems.
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Too Little or Too Much
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder where a teen does not eat a life sustaining number of calories. In other words, he or she starves the body to the point where health is threatened. In the worst cases the result is death due to malnutrition or organ failure. These teens see their body as being overweight no matter how thin it gets.
Bulimia is an eating disorder that involves eating large amounts of food and then purging it. Since the body is not allowed enough time to absorb any nutrients, the consequences are similar to those of anorexia. The teen may suffer malnutrition, organ damage and abnormal glandular changes, throwing their hormones out of whack. This is happening at the very time when hormone levels are fluctuating regularly in response to rapid growth.
Spotting the behaviors indicating these childhood eating disorders
is not difficult. The teenager will get abnormally thin or will refuse to eat sufficient quantities of food.
There will be lots of excuses about why he or she is not hungry meal after meal. For those with bulimia there will be signs of the use of laxatives or the teenager will often be sick after eating due to the self-induced vomiting.
Once again, the loss of excessive weight is an excellent indicator that teen eating disorders exist. Eating disorders in children as young as four is also on the rise.
Orderly Nutritional Changes
Teenagers with milder eating disorders often use food as "comfort food". The teenage years are very stressful, and hormone levels frequently change, which only adds to the stress. Turning to food as a solution to problems related to self- esteem or to relieve feelings of stress will quickly lead to being overweight or obese.
Comfort food is often high in sugar, carbohydrates and fat. These types of food cause blood sugar levels to temporarily spike, creating brief feelings of euphoria.
Teen eating disorders can be corrected with counseling and a new focus on nutritional eating. Changing destructive behaviors requires the involvement of the family itself, and the doctor.
The goal is to minimize potential physical damage from poor nutrition while addressing the emotional factors leading to the binging, purging or comfort food eating behaviors. The sooner the problems are discovered, the easier it is to intervene.
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