When your teen daughter’s eating habits suddenly change, it’s easy to say, “It’s just a phase.” When teenagers reach adolescence, it is true that they go through different phases where they figure out who they are, where they fit in in the world and what their life will be like. It IS normal for teens to try new things as they learn about the world.

However, there is a big difference between a phase as part of healthy identity development and a cry for help. There are certain types of behavior around food that can have real consequences physically, socially, emotionally, and even academically. You, as a parent, must step in and help when you notice these signs.

Troubled Teens With Perfectionism

Even when you try your best to protect her, your daughter will encounter messages in the media that prey on teen insecurity. Unfortunately, the unrealistic expectations portrayed on social media can be harmful when internalized. While some troubled teens might claim that they are just “experimenting with their diet” when placing heavy restrictions on themselves, there is reason for concern as she may be developing body dysmorphia or an eating disorder. She could be suffering from anxiety, depression or another issue, but instead of turning to an adult, she internalizes the messages about “being perfect” and pushes herself to achieve these expectations. These messages can become deeply ingrained beliefs, leading to many self deprecating behaviors.

What your daughter may not know is “just because it’s not classified as an eating disorder doesn’t mean it’s safe.”

Self-Harm

Self-harm is a behavioral issue that can be classified by a number of behaviors, most commonly cutting and scratching oneself. However, severe food restrictions combined with excessive exercise can serve a similar purpose. While this behavior may not be related to suicidal thoughts, it should always be treated like it is. Sometimes it’s the only warning sign that your child is about to spiral down the wrong path.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a common mental health issues among troubled teens, but are especially common among girls. Anorexia or Bulimia can be very dangerous, so watch for warning signs, such as:

  • – Sudden weight loss
  • – Preoccupation with appearance and weight
  • – Changes in eating behavior
  • – Visiting the bathroom right after a meal
  • – Fear of certain foods

Medical complications can occur if eating disorders are not treated. This can include damage to the bones, kidneys, liver, heart and brain.

Boarding School for Girls with Eating Disorders

Everyone gets down on themselves at times, but if your teenager spends all of her time in front of the mirror, obsessing over her appearance or restricting her diet to extremes, she may have developed body dysmorphia disorder or an eating disorder. In some cases, she may restrict her diet and tell you she’s trying to be more “healthy” while refusing to do things she used to love doing. She may also go to the bathroom more often than normal.

These disordered eating patterns can turn into an eating disorder. Your daughter needs help. In some cases, a psychiatrist may be able to help her begin to feel and express herself in more constructive ways again. In other situations, a much more drastic approach is needed. If your daughter is struggling with mental health issues or eating disorders, consider getting the right help from our college preparatory therapeutic boarding school for teenage girls. We’ve helped many troubled teens, and we’re here to help preserve and protect her future.