• By Ian Roth

Mayo Clinic Minute: 5 signs your teen might have an eating disorder

August 13, 2018

Let's face it: Teenagers can be weird, especially when it comes to food. So it can be hard to tell when teenage weirdness crosses a line into an eating disorder.

Dr. Jocelyn Lebow, a Mayo Clinic child psychologist who specializes in treating eating disorders, breaks down five signs your teen might have an eating disorder.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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"They tend to start off, honestly, trying to be healthy, trying to, you know, get in shape for ...  sports, or, you know, making changes that parents initially are high-fiving them for," Dr. Lebow says.

She says as many as 60 percent of teens show behaviors associated with disordered eating.

That's why she says parents should always be paying attention to their teen's eating habits, and looking for these five signs they could have a problem:

  1. Excessive dieting, like only eating a few bites at meals or never ever eating snacks or desserts.
    "For parents, the thing to look for is when it snowballs or when it starts to get out of control – when it gets really rigid," Dr. Lebow says.
  2. Excessive exercise, even when they are injured
  3. Withdrawing from friends, family and activities the teen normally enjoys
  4. Fasting, other than for religious purposes
  5. Hiding food and only eating when nobody is around

"I would say, rule of thumb is, if they're either not eating enough to allow them to grow, to allow them to have energy to do what they need to do, or that it's impacting their mood, that's a problem," Dr. Lebow says.

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