Bulimia & your child: What you need to know
Created by Shikha Garg Updated on Jul 15, 2017
Bulimia is a common eating disorder amongst teenagers, generally caused due to negative media impact and peer pressure. Teens that are bulimic tend to believe they are overweight and unattractive, and strive to attain a particular body image projected in the media. Often, parents fail to notice symptoms of eating disorders in their teenagers until it reaches an advanced, sometimes risky, stage. You can prevent your precious child from suffering by being careful of their habits and being honest and understanding with them. Read on for more on Bulimia…
What is bulimia?
In simple terms, Bulimia is a psychological eating disorder. In this eating disorder the patient constantly compares his/her looks and personality to that of models and film stars– often spending hours in front of the mirror. Eating disorders are common among teenagers due to peer pressure and extreme media influence.
Bulimia is common among both girls and boys. Girls however face far more societal pressure to look “thin and gorgeous”– which can be quite detrimental! This is not to say that boys do not face the same pressures. Body images promoted by the mass media can create quite a strong and negative impact especially on easily impressionable teenagers. The desire to look like their favourite media personalities and gain acceptance from their friends can cause teenagers to develop eating disorders like Bulimia.
Quite often, if left undiagnosed and untreated, Bulimia can lead to various serious health disorders and even death. We all know the importance of healthy food and good health, but your teenager can get lost in keeping up with false images, and suffer. Once we lose our good health it is not always that easy to retrieve it.
Symptoms of Bulimia
To understand whether your teenager might be bulimic, or not, let’s first answer a few questions -
- Does your teenager constantly keep checking his/her appearance in the mirror?
- Does your teen have an enlarged gland in their neck under their jaw line?
- Does your teen first eat for fun and later on feel guilty and afraid of gaining weight and vomit to clear out their stomach?
- Is their body weight fluctuating constantly?
- Does your teen eat more when they are upset or depressed?
- Do they see broken blood vessels in their eyes?
- Are they chronically dehydrated?
- Are they facing chronic gastric reflex after eating?
- Does your teen show a lack of control when they see their favourite food item?
- Does your teenager seem to fluctuate between extreme phases of overeating and fasting?
These are the most common symptoms of Bulimia – or at times other eating disorders common amongst teenagers. If you answered ‘no’ to all these questions– then your teenager is safe! However, if you answered ‘yes’ for 4-5 of these questions– then your teenager might have a problem and you must seek help.
How to cope with Bulimia
What can you do to help your teenager stay physically fit and psychologically healthy, and how to prevent them from eating disorders? Here are a few pointers -
- Help your teenager create a positive body and self-image. Highlight their positive qualities; be encouraging and understanding towards them. Teach them that they do not have to be absolutely perfect – they are beautiful as they are!
- Ensure your teenager eats a healthy, balanced diet. Replace junk and fatty foods with nutritious substitutes – there are quite a few delicious and healthy options available nowadays.
- Be extremely watchful of your teen’s behaviour and eating habits.
- If you feel that your teen is displaying any symptoms of an eating disorder, seek help immediately from a psychologist and a nutritionist.
- Make sure your teen avoids taking laxatives, diet pills and diuretics/drugs– unless it’s for the proper reasons!
- Encourage a healthy exercise routine. Help them get a trainer at the gym or go for a run or a swim. Yoga can help them keep fit and be calm. You could even go for walks together sometimes!
- Ensure a pleasant and open atmosphere at home, especially during mealtimes.
Try to create a healthy, open and honest relationship with your teenager. Talk to them often, about their daily life, friends, hobbies, etc.
There is a lot you can do as a parent to help your teenager have self-confidence and enjoy a good, healthy life. Please keep the points I have discussed in mind, and reach out for help if you feel your teenager might have an eating disorder.
Did you find Shikha’s information on Bulimia useful? Have you ever dealt with a bulimic teenager? How do you create an honest, understanding relationship with your teen Do share your experiences and learnings with us in the comments section below. We love hearing from you!
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