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Common signs of eating disorders in children and young people

Common signs of eating disorders in children and young people

Eating disorders can begin when someone is experiencing emotional problems and uses food to control, punish, reward or comfort themselves.

The first signs of an eating disorder are often subtle and hidden by the individual which can lead to feelings of isolation and being cut off from family and friends.

Signs that you may have an eating disorder include, but are not limited to*:

  • Ignoring feelings of hunger
  • Forming rigid rules about eating (eg certain foods, set times in the day)
  • If you feel like you’ve eaten too much, trying to make up for that by eating less the next day or by exercising more
  • Making yourself sick after you’ve eaten
  • Exercising specifically to burn off what you have eaten
  • Weighing yourself regularly
  • Eating in secret
  • Eating large amounts of food in a short amount of time
  • Hiding your body with loose/baggy clothing
  • Thinking obsessively about food, calories, your shape or weight
  • Fear of gaining weight
  • Feelings of shame or guilt after you’ve eaten
  • Not liking your body and wanting to change its shape or weight
  • Not wanting to eat in public/ disliking other people seeing you eat
  • Feeling out of control when you eat and not being able to stop
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Feeling cold
  • Feeling tired
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Not being able to concentrate

*Please note that this is not a complete or comprehensive list, nor is it a diagnostic tool. 

SWEDA helps anyone affected by an eating disorder – but you don’t have to have a diagnosed eating disorder to get help from us.

With the right treatment, a full recovery is possible. The first step is recognising that there is a problem and looking for support.

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