Eating Disorders During Adolescence

Adolescence is a developmental period that allows the transition from childhood to adulthood and there will be many physical, psychological, hormonal and social changes. During this period, growth and development increase rapidly and the need for nutrients and energy increases. Adolescence is a period in which physical appearance gains importance and feelings about the body change. In recent studies, it has been revealed that family communication and social conditions, cognitive, biological and psychological predispositions affect eating disorders. The family is a behavioral role model, that is, it has an important place in the nutritional attitudes, body weights and food consumption of the adolescent. It has been observed that the children of families who attach excessive importance to the child’s appearance and who are especially critical about weight control have a high level of anxiety and frequent dieting or bulumic behaviors. Social media, family and friends also put pressure on this developmental period. The pressure or appearance-based discrimination by the peer groups in terms of diet also affects the body image of adolescents.

Anorexia Nervosa: It is an eating disorder that leads the client to various behaviors (such as vomiting, excessive exercise) in order to lose weight, due to the desire to have a weak body and excessive fear of obesity.

Bulimia Nervosa: It is a table that covers behavior patterns aimed at controlling body weight. It is the use of some methods (such as vomiting, excessive exercise or enema) to prevent weight gain after binge eating attacks that the clients cannot control.

Binge Eating Disorder: It is the person’s consumption of too much food in a short period of time (like every 2 hours) and in a short time than many people can eat under the same conditions. In order to eliminate the effects of these sudden attacks, measures such as forcing oneself to vomit, using diuretic drugs or accelerating metabolism with excessive exercise are not taken.

Adolescents with eating disorders have more conflict and anger, less intimacy, less adjustment and support in their families. People with anorexia have more cohesive family relationships, less autonomy in parental relationships, and high expectations from family members. It can be said that they have feeding difficulties and problems related to digestion, and that they are more picky/hard to eat.

In Bulimia Nervosa, it can be said that mothers use more verbal control over their children. Regardless of children’s weight, parents restrict children’s access to food and control their eating behavior.

The basis of adolescents’ eating disorders is usually the need for negative control of parents over their eating attitudes. The fact that food has become a forbidden food increases the love of children for this food even more. This state of control creates the perception that food control is given excessive importance in later ages and creates a risk factor for anorexia. At the same time, combined with the child’s temperament, there may be a risk for deficiencies in eating control and binge eating and bulimia.

So what can families do?

– Parents should reduce their critical comments on adolescents.

– Supervision behaviors need to be set aside because this behavior causes children to feel under pressure and to increase these behaviors.

– The reason for adolescents’ displaying eating disorders may be the difficulty they have in keeping things in the outside world under control. For this reason, it becomes easier for them to keep their bodies under their own control, compared to the outside world. At this point, it is also important that parents do not make accusations and interfere excessively.

– As parents, teenagers “Gain weight!” Avoid pressure because they are very afraid of gaining weight.

– Lastly, don’t forget to seek support if you are starting to see this type of eating-related problems in adolescents. In such cases, it is always important to take an early step.

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