Teen Is Adopting Some Potentially Dangerous Eating Patterns…

By November 15, 2012

Hi, I am a 17 year old high school student. I am actually overweight but want to know if it is possible to have an eating disorder still. For the past couple of years I have been skipping a lot of meals; some days only eating one meal. I count calories a lot and have forced myself to throw up a couple of times, although not very often and mostly when I am really stressed. I don’t think these things are necessarily normal but I don’t know if I have a problem either. I really wish I were thin but I am having a hard time finding a balance between how to eat right and exercise to be healthy versus trying to not eat to lose weight. Do you have any advice? – K.

Dear K.,

Thanks for your question. I can tell from your letter that you are definitely experiencing some struggles when it comes to eating, body image and weight.

First, you say you are overweight, but is that from a health perspective (i.e. is your doctor concerned?) or is that in comparison to the unrealistically thin models and celebrities we see in magazines and on TV? The truth is, we are not all designed to be thin, and a variety of body shapes, frames and types can be healthy.

That said, you are adopting some very unhealthful and potentially dangerous eating patterns, in your attempt to control your weight (and relieve stress). Actually, habits such as skipping meals can promote weight gain in the long run—the opposite of what you are trying to accomplish. You are definitely moving into the EDNOS category (Eating Disorders Not Otherwise Specified), with the potential to develop a full blown eating disorder. Now is the time to nip this in the bud.

I strongly urge you to seek help from a therapist who specializes in eating disorders. He or she will help you understand the underlying issues behind your behaviors, and teach you healthier ways to cope with stress. If you need further professional support to help you with your eating, this person could refer you to a nutritionist.

In the meantime, we have a lot of resources at this site for you to read over and study. I have a number of suggestions as a starting point:

It’s a lot of “homework,” but your health—physical, emotional and spiritual—is well worth the effort. You have been heading down a path of pain and suffering, but you are at a turning point, at which you can ultimately find freedom and a bright future.

Take care,