Are you struggling with restricting and over exercising?
Do you obsess about hating certain parts of your body?
Are you a yo-yo dieter?
Do you binge on large amounts of food and then feel guilt and shame?
Do you overexercise and feel panicked and anxious if you have to skip a day?
Most teenagers worry about their appearance… Self-esteem can be precarious during adolescence, and body consciousness comes with the territory. But if you’ve noticed that your child is fixated on weight, you’re probably worried. So what is the difference between normal behavior and behavior that might indicate an eating disorder?
- Distorted Body Image: While other people see a normal (or painfully skinny) kid, teenagers with eating disorders look into the mirror and see a different person entirely. They have a distorted perception of their own appearance, and no amount of reassurance from family and friends—all of them saying, “You’re not fat”—will change that conviction.
- Fixated on Appearance: Young people who develop eating disorders are extraordinarily focused on their appearance as a measure of self-worth. While other kids tend to stake their identities on their interests and accomplishments, these teenagers have their emotions, and their lives, wrapped up in thoughts of food and appearance.
- Extreme Dieting: Anorexia nervosa, the most common eating disorder, is self-imposed starvation, usually by a young woman who is otherwise high-functioning. Personality types more likely to develop the disorder include athletes, perfectionists, and over-achievers. They are driven to maintain a dangerously low body weight because of a distorted self-image. Detecting anorexia can be very difficult because it typically affects high-performing kids.
- Overeating: Kids with bulimia nervosa, the other most common eating disorder, indulge in periodic and usually secretive binges. Many kids with bulimia say they feel out of control during their binges and describe them as “out of body experiences.” To compensate, many will purge afterward or diet strenuously. Teenagers with the disorder may be very influenced by body ideals perpetuated in media and popular culture. It can be difficult to diagnose the disorder because people with bulimia can have a normal body weight or may even be overweight.
We can help. Given the complicated nature of eating disorders, we believe that it is essential to form a multi-disciplinary team of professionals which might include a physician, psychiatrist, nutritionist, school-based support person as well as individual and family therapist. Eating disorders don’t just affect individuals but relationships as well as entire family systems. We support the entire system and utilize their strengths to help the individual struggling to regain balance in their life.
We are trained in an approach called Family Based Therapy (also known as the Maudsley Approach) to achieve symptom remission and restore health while keeping patients out of the hospital. We work with the entire family system to support the client and guide them back to living full, healthy lives. The results of this approach are significantly higher and more lasting than the traditional approach.