Eating Difficulties or Body Image Issues

Wanting to be thinner, not liking their appearance, wanting to be more toned or hating a particular part of their body is a common problem in young people these days. These issues do not just affect females, they are increasingly common in males, although they will often try to hide their issues around this more. 

When to seek help

  • If there is a sudden or marked changes in weight
  • If the young person is spending long periods in the toilet or always rushing to the toilet after eating (they might be making themselves sick)
  • If the young person is exercising to an obsessive extent
  • If they are constantly counting calories or fat intake when they do not need to lose weight
  • If they believe they are overweight when they are not
  • If they have an unhealthy obsession with a part of their body
  • If they do not want to go out because they dislike their appearance
  • If they are restricting their dietary choices more and more
  • If they are throwing their meals away or subtly giving their meals to the dog
  • If they are accessing pro-anorexia websites

Eating disorders can occur rapidly and they can be very dangerous. People do not realise that making themselves sick, or becoming severely underweight could lead to serious heart complications. They do not realise that being extremely underweight or losing weight too rapidly could become fatal.

Please do see your GP urgently if you think your child is developing eating issues to get a referral to a psychiatrist. They might well need close physical health monitoring and it is certainly in the best interest of your child to get help quickly before the issues become too severe or entrenched. The young person is likely to tell you they are fine, there is not an issue and they will start eating normally again. You may wish to believe them and hope this is the case but often this is too hard for the young person to cope with alone and they might just become more covert about their behaviours. Do not wait until these issues have spiralled dangerously out of control.