If your child’s eating habits change in a way that seems significant to you, take note of these shifts. For instance, they may begin to restrict food intake or change their diet entirely, start skipping meals, or begin to take meal replacement ‘shakes’ instead of eating a typical  meal.

Or you may notice they now take only half the portion they used to, for no good reason that you can see. Or you might notice that your child now cuts food up in small pieces and eats very slowly. These are just some examples.

If you feel worried about your child’s eating habits, be curious. Start a two-way conversation that lets them know you have concerns, listen to what your child has to say, and see how the two of you might work together to ensure a healthy diet – while still giving your child some autonomy over what they eat. If you continue to have concerns, seek out a professional and share your concerns.

Is my child’s disordered eating just a phase? Will they snap out of it at some point?

Whether it is or not, you still don’t want to ignore the signs. Eating disorders are often the result of a multitude of factors and can’t be pinned on just one reason, event, or cause. It can be dangerous to assume that a loved one is simply going to grow out of disordered eating or an eating disorder or will tire of it at some point, because eating disorders are a slippery slope. If left untreated, they can result in serious health problems and even death. Eating disorders are a cause for concern, and having your child seen by a doctor is a good first step to assess whether your child may need treatment and to provide options for your family to best support them.