Wednesday , 22 May 2019

Binge eating and adolescents

Maria Fernandes

Sudeep is an overweight 15-year-old school boy from an affluent family. Besides school and home, he hardly goes out and literally lives in his room. Chocolates, chips, soft drinks and other junk food can be found in the cupboard, drawers and under the bed in his room which he keeps hidden from his parents. Normally after eating these snacks he feels guilty as he knows he shouldn’t be indulging but he just cannot control himself and wants to eat.

BED or binge eating disorder refers to eating large amounts of food, much more than most people would normally eat while feeling unable to stop. Those who binge-eat normally do so when they are alone and while in company eat normally. This leads to many parents being unaware of their child’s problem. This condition is quite common amongst adolescents and college-age youngsters and is characterised by weight gain, increased body fat and other related symptoms.


Signs of binge eating include

l Eating much faster than normal

l Eating alone due to embarrassment about the quantity being consumed

l Eating large quantities without feeling hungry

l Eating until feeling uncontrollably full

l Feeling guilty or depressed after eating


Complications that can arise due to prolonged binge eating:

l Low self-esteem

l Difficulties functioning in various areas of life

l Feeling socially isolated

l Significant weight grain or obesity

l Health issues including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, digestive problems, gallbladder disease


So what should parents look out for?

Food hidden in several places in the house especially your child’s room like in cupboards, drawers, or places where you normally do not keep food.

Large amounts of food missing from the refrigerator or shelves. You may also find food wrappers in your teen’s room or in dustbins.

You may also notice that when he is alone, your child eats too much and at night frequently raids the fridge or other places for food.


What can you do?

If you notice frequent binge eating episodes try to find out if your teen is having any issues at school or with friends, since food may be a way of coping with emotional problems.

Find out more about the problem by reading thus enabling yourself to understand the causes of the condition better.

Listen to your child and avoid the blame game. Instead try to understand the problem.

Enlist your unconditional support to your child so that he can open up to you.

Seek professional help if need be. Just having someone to talk to, who will not judge you helps, hence go to a psychologist or counsellor who will lead you from there.

Remember, support, calm and patience is the key to dealing with your teen. This is the time of utmost care and maintaining restraint in front of your teens is of vital importance.