Adolescent Eating Disorders Defined

Adolescent Eating Disorders Defined
Is your child a competent eater? Did you even know that there was such a thing? According to dietician and psychologist Ellyn Satter, a competent eater is one who regularly eats food they enjoy, and eats enough of it to be satisfied.

The flip side of competent eating is disordered eating. Some people, including adolescents, struggle with eating problems such as not eating enough to maintain a healthy weight or binge eating. This article will define some of the most common types of eating disorders. A series of future articles will discuss each one in more detail.

  • Anorexia People who suffer from Anorexia typically refuse to maintain a sufficient body weight and have a distorted body image. In other words, although they are often significantly under weight, they believe themselves to be over weight. Signs of anorexia include significant, rapid weight loss, a refusal to eat, an intense fear of gaining weight, a preoccupation with their weight.

  • Bulimia People with bulimia cycle between binging and purging. During their binge cycle, they eat uncontrollably, far beyond the point of satiation. Following a binge, they attempt to remove the food from their systems by various methods. Common purging methods are vomiting, over use of laxatives and exercise. Signs of bulimia include eating to the point of discomfort, going to the bathroom after every episode of eating, unhealthy obsession with weight, excessive exercise, damaged knuckles, weight loss and tooth decay.

  • Binge Eating Disorder While people with bulimia cycle between binging and purging, those who have binge eating disorder eat obsessively to the point of discomfort, but do not purge afterward. As opposed to other eating disorders, where weight loss is a sign, weight gain is a symptom of binge eating disorder.

  • Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified This is a fancy way of saying, "something isn't right but we don't have a specific label for it." Examples include people who exhibit anorexic behaviors but maintain a normal body weight. Another example is someone who is obsessive about burning off more calories, via exercise, than they consume. Disordered eating takes on many shapes and often can not be categorized. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be taken seriously.

Click on the body positive subject area to the left for more information about helping your teenager with body image and acceptance issues.

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Ellyn Satter."Eating Competence."

Mayo Clinic. "Eating Disorders."

University of Maryland Medical Center. "Eating Disorders Introduction."

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