Imagine your child attending a party, at school, or hanging out with friends. Now picture them stuffing their face full of whatever they can get their hands on, eating until they’re sick or disgusted by the sight and taste of food.
This is a scenario that happens too often to people with bulimia and anorexia. But, it can also be a sign of binge eating disorder in teens.
But what does this do to their brain and, more importantly, their behavior? Let’s explore the warning signs of binge eating disorder.
1. Frequent Episodes of Excessive Eating
One of the warning signs of binge eating disorder in teens is frequent episodes of excessive eating. A teen with a binge eating disorder may eat large amounts of food when they’re not hungry or eat a lot of food in one sitting.
A teen might eat three to four times in a short period of time or even eat to the point of feeling uncomfortably full. Additionally, these episodes may be followed by feelings of guilt, shame, or embarrassment.
Teenagers with binge eating disorder may also reach for food without thinking and pull away from social activities. They are also demonstrating signs of distress or emotional instability.
Teens exhibiting any of these signs should seek help from a mental health professional. This is to receive the proper treatment for their condition.
2. Eating in Secret
Binge eating disorder in teens is often associated with eating in secrecy. If a teen is particularly secretive about what and how much they are eating, this may be a warning sign that a binge eating disorder is developing.
A teen may try to hide food, eat alone, or fill their plate multiple times throughout the meal without anyone else being aware. A teen with a binge eating disorder may also make a point to eat only when no one else is around or eat more private foods like candy or chips.
Other warning signs include going to the bathroom directly after meals and constant snacking. It also includes refusal to eat meals with other people and making excuses to leave the table early or skip meals. If any of these behaviors sound familiar, it is important to seek help from a mental wellness professional.
3. Rapid Consumption of Food
Rapid consumption of food is one of the most common warning signs of binge disordered eating in teens. A binge eating episode typically includes eating unusually large amounts of food in a short amount of time, often within a few minutes.
During an episode, the teen may not stop eating, even after being full. A teen with a binge eating disorder may feel so hungry that he or she will take big bites and eat quickly. They even keep eating even after the meal is over.
4. Eating When Not Physically Hungry
Warning signs of binge eating disorder in teens typically involve eating when not physically hungry. This can be evident in teens who eat late at night or after they are full from a meal.
Binge-eating teens may also display tendencies. This includes eating small amounts of high-calorie or high-carb foods throughout the day or not eating at all.
Other signs are not having much time to do things that don’t involve eating or feeling too full after eating a small amount of food.
5. Feeling Out of Control
Binge eating disorder in teens is often marked by a feeling of being out of control. Changes in appetite, like eating more often or eating bigger portions, can be a sign that a teen may be dealing with this problem.
If you feel like your teen is struggling with their relationship with food, it is important to seek professional help. If left untreated, binge eating disorder can lead to long-term physical and mental health issues.
6. Consuming Large Amounts of Food Without Purging
Teens suffering from binge eating disorder often consume large amounts of food within a short period of time without purging. They might go for hours without eating, then binge on high-calorie fast food or other unhealthy snacks, often in secret.
Furthermore, a teen may hoard food and take extra measures to acquire it. If you have concerns, it’s important to speak to a doctor and get appropriate help.
7. Feelings of Guilt or Shame After Eating
Teens who suffer from binge eating disorder may experience feelings of guilt or shame after eating. They may become embarrassed about the amount of food they have consumed and worry that others may judge them for it.
Symptoms of this guilt or shame may include avoiding eating around others and trying to hide food wrappers or empty containers. Also, they might be feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable in social situations related to food.
If left untreated, these feelings of guilt or shame can lead to long-term problems, such as depression and social isolation. That’s why parents should be mindful of the importance of early intervention.
They should talk to their child to help them cope with their feelings. Also, they need to provide support and resources to help them get the appropriate treatment.
8. Eating to Cope With Emotions
Eating to cope with emotions is a common symptom of binge eating disorder in teens. One of the warning signs of this disorder is when teens are seen eating large amounts of food, often at a rapid pace.
Another warning sign may be when teens are overeating to compensate for upsetting or stressful emotions. They may also eat alone or out of boredom or anxiety.
If teens are frequently seen going on food binges to cope with their emotions, it is something that should not be overlooked. This can be a red flag for the early onset of binge eating disorder.
Parents, guardians, and caregivers should keep an eye out for any of these signs so the disorder can be addressed in its early stages.
9. Avoidance of Social Situations Involving Food
It is important to recognize the early warning signs of binge eating disorder in teens. Avoidance of social situations involving food is often a warning sign.
They may also forgo family meals, birthday parties, and school activities due to the fear of being judged. Another common sign of binge eating disorder includes spending extra time to prepare meals and snacks.
Teens with binge eating disorder may take extra time to cook elaborate meals and snacks to avoid eating in social situations. These warning signs can alert families to the possibility of a teen struggling with binge eating disorder. If you notice these behaviors in your teen, speaking to a professional can be beneficial.
10. Fluctuations in Weight
One of the warning signs of binge eating disorder in teens is fluctuations in weight. This is often caused by a frequent cycle of overeating and purging, which is common among individuals with this disorder.
Teens may experience significant weight changes in a short period of time, with a gain of several pounds in just several weeks. Oftentimes, these shifts in weight are visible and can be noticed by parents, teachers, and peers.
If you or someone you know has these symptoms, visit a mental health professional or binge eating therapy specialist.
11. Preoccupation With Body Image and Weight
Warning signs of binge eating disorder in teens also include preoccupation with body image and weight. Teens may become obsessed with trying to be thin or trying to look a certain way to conform to societal standards.
They may start to restrict how much they eat or develop an exercise regimen in an attempt to change their weight. They may worry too much about their weight and be too hard on themselves when they feel like they have gone off track from a weight goal.
12. Feeling Isolated or Withdrawn
Feeling isolated or withdrawn can be a warning sign of binge eating disorder in teens. If your teen is normally outgoing and social, but you notice they are becoming increasingly reclusive, it could indicate a serious underlying problem.
They may have a fear of being judged or seen by others, so they may turn away from traditional socialization. If your teen stops taking part in their favorite activities or spending time with friends, it could be a sign that something is wrong, and they could be struggling with BED.
13. Development of Physical Health Issues
Warning signs of binge eating disorder in teens can include physical health issues such as sudden weight gain or loss. This can be an indicator that the person is very concerned with their body image or health.
Other physical symptoms such as extreme fatigue, digestive problems, or nausea can be an indicator of the person struggling to control their eating. Teens with binge eating disorder can also exhibit changes in sleeping patterns, such as sleeping too much or too little.
Warning Signs of Binge Eating Disorder You Should Watch Out For
Binge eating disorder is a serious condition that is affecting more and more teens. It’s important to be aware of the warning signs of binge eating disorders: eating unusually large amounts of food, eating quickly, eating when not hungry, and more.
If you suspect your teen is struggling with this disorder, seek help from a mental health professional as soon as possible.
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