Hidden, crouching, and lurking in the shadows of a student’s life, an eating disorder in its earlier stages is rarely evident to peers and parents. While some individuals openly share their starvation tactics on pro-ana Web sites, most young people find ways to avoid detection.
Signs that trouble may be brewing:
- obsessive focus on calories.
- vast knowledge on calorie and fat content of a variety of food items.
- excessive exercise (beyond what is expected for athletic interests).
- exercising strictly to lose weight (not focusing on overall health or improvement in athletic abilities).
- wearing baggy clothing (not related to social peer styles or long term personal style).
- change in social interaction
- with friends and family — avoiding friends and family more than before.
- expressing a false negative image of their body.
Keeping in mind that there may be other reasons for any of these behaviors, if you suspect that a student has an eating disorder, please observe and report per your school district’s protocols.
Research supports that both biological and environmental triggers are necessary for an eating disorder to develop. Consequently there are additional indicators that a student may be at risk:
- A parent or sibling has an eating disorder or has recovered from an eating disorder.
- A parent or guardian become severely injured or ill.
- A recent death of a family member or a friend.
- Parents divorcing or in the process of separating.
- Living in a dangerous or violent environment (such as sexual or physical abuse or bullying).
Eating disorders are often initiated by a need for control or a desire to fit in and excel. The pressures can come from a variety of sources. However, control gives way to the disorder and the student loses control.