The holidays can be a difficult time for teenagers. School break, family stress, and changes in schedule and routine can take their toll. For teens struggling with disordered eating, the holidays can be even more difficult. Whether someone is silently coping with disordered eating or publically avoids foods and yo-yo diets, social events centered on food can trigger self-harm and other unhealthy behaviors.
If your teen is struggling with disordered eating, call Foothills at Red Oak Recovery today. Our programs focus on disordered eating, substance abuse, and process addiction for adolescent men. Call us at 866.300.5275 to learn more about treatment for disordered eating triggers.
What Is Disordered Eating?
While many are familiar with common eating disorders, disordered eating goes beyond anorexia and bulimia. Disordered eating is simply an unhealthy relationship with food. Various attitudes, behaviors, and patterns classify disordered eating, including eating disorders. Disordered eating may include behaviors, emotions, or perceptions like:
- Body dysmorphia
- Yo-yo dieting
- Anxiety around food
- Guilt and shame before or after eating
- Eating in secret
- Obsessing over food
- Feeling no control over food
- Excessive exercise
- Unnecessary calorie restriction
Signs of Disordered Eating
Physical and behavioral signs accompany disordered eating. These signs may include:
- Changes in weight
- Complaints of upset stomach
- Excluding yourself from social eating
- Obsession with weight, calories, exercise, and fad diets
- Limiting the variety of foods one eats
- Personal food rituals
While teenagers can live secretive lives, parents can often spot signs of disordered eating during the holidays when food becomes a central focus of social life.
Disordered Eating Triggers
Like addiction and trauma, disordered thoughts, people, places, and emotions that cause stress can trigger food behaviors. For many, disordered eating is a coping mechanism. Some may use food to self-soothe, while others use eating habits to experience some level of control in their lives. Discussions of body image and comments about a teenager’s body can be especially triggering.
Unfortunately, disordered eating can often lead to substance abuse and other addictive habits when left untreated. Many people may also use drugs to assist in weight loss or appetite suppression. When triggered, it can be hard for someone experiencing disordered eating to gain perspective and see the harm their eating habits may cause themselves or others.
Dealing with Disordered Eating Triggers During the Holidays
To avoid food-related triggers this holiday season, have an honest conversation with your teen. Remember that the winter months can cause the whole family to experience seasonal depression, lethargy, and reach for comfort foods. Gauge your teen’s stress levels and come up with holiday menus everyone can enjoy. Consider planning a holiday that doesn’t center on food. Spend family time outdoors, trying new activities, and making memories outside the kitchen. Stress relief, balance, sleep, and proper nutrition can help with disordered eating triggers.
During the holidays, it’s hard to avoid indulgent eating. To help your teen refrain from shaming your own food habits, your body, and others this holiday season. Providing teens with a mirror of healthy body image and healthy eating habits can help. Find a local, reputable therapist to help navigate disordered eating and cope with triggers.
Get Help at Foothills at Red Oak
If you’re worried about your teen’s relationship with food, Foothills at Red Oak can help. Please don’t wait for the holiday season to take its toll on your teen. Our programs for adolescent males treat a variety of addictions and co-occurring, including disordered eating triggers. For many, disordered eating is a symptom of deeper psychological wounds.
At Foothills, we focus on helping young men heal through traditional and alternative therapies, including equine and large animal therapy. Reach our friendly staff at 866.300.5275 to learn more about disordered eating treatment today and help your son thrive.