Thursday, August 19, 2010

5 warning signs that your child might have anorexia

Read it at Brave Girl Eating, my blog on Psychology Today's website, and please pass the information to any parents you know who might need the information.

How I wish I'd had this list before Kitty got sick.


Flannery said...

In a lot of ways, this is a very helpful article. The anexity is definitely something that I experienced and something that mystifed my parents at the time. That's something I definitely feel is universal in eating disorders. But I think that this article has also fallen into the same old trap of equating All Eating Disorders with Anorexia Only.

If the title were "5 Warning Signs That Your Child May Be Developing Anorexia", then the focus on it in the article would make complete sense. As it is, though, the title just says "An Eating Disorder"--so what about Binge Eating Disorder? What about ED-NOS? What about Bulimia?

Anorexia is the most deadly ED, but it is not the most common, by far. BED is the most common--so a large percentage of eating disorders don't necessarily manifest in the way that the article describes: weight loss/stagnation, cooking but not eating, compulsive exercising. None of those are hallmarks of BED. They're actually the exact opposite: weight gain, excessive caloric intake via binges, and no 'compensatory' reactions to those binges.

People with BN, BED, and some forms of ED-NOS don't always lose weight, or even stagnate, and putting that as the number one sign of a potential disorder is extremely misleading and potentially dangerous. The reason it took me so long to figure out that I had an eating disorder was precisely because I was a 'normal weight', and precisely because every thing I read said that if I wasn't losing weight, then I was fine.

What if a parent of a child with BED reads this article and decides not to worry or seek ED-related help, because their child is gaining weight? What if they take them to a doctor who puts them on an extremely restrictive DIET? Which is exactly what MY parents did, setting me back yet another horrible, metabolism-ruining round of cycle-dieting and adding years to my eventual recovery process. The title implies inclusivity, but the article is only about one specific type of eating disorder. That's what worries me.

BED and ED-NOS already get routinely overlooked in discussions about eating disorders--it just made me kind of sad to see an article from such a trusted source fall into the same trap.

Harriet said...

You're right, Flannery. I've changed the title of the post. I'm really talking about anorexia and ED-NOS here.

Luxe said...

...I have 4/5 of these symptoms and I definitely don't have an ED. What gives?

Harriet said...


Are you a child? Are any of these new for you?

Please look at the title of the post. These are warning signs that a child might have anorexia or another ED. They're not definitive diagnostic criteria.

Flannery said...

Thank you, Harriet! I appreciate that a lot.

BTW, I'm really looking forward to reading your book, and my mom is, too.