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Back-To-School Stress Can Trigger Eating Disorders: Seven Warning Signs


By Andrea Szebeni 

As summer winds down and school starts up again, many students are feeling the pressure to show off their new wardrobes and look their best.

And with awkward body changes and constant pressure from the media, being around their peers could stir up fierce competition, especially in girls, says Andrea Szebeni, a registered nutritionist and dietician with the Lighthouse Recovery Institute. For some teens, the stress of going back to school can cause them to battle symptoms of anorexia nervosa, says Szebeni, who helps young women overcome eating disorders. Woman with tape measure around wrists

Szebeni provides these seven warning signs that parents should look out for if they suspect anorexia:

  1. Denial of hunger. Is your child saying she is never hungry at meal times or that she already ate? This obviously may occur sporadically, but if you notice a consistent trend, be aware, Szebeni says.
  2. Preoccupation with food, weight, calories and dieting.
  3. Refusal to eat certain foods, progressing to restrictions against whole categories of food.
  4. Dramatic weight loss.
  5. Consistent excuses to avoid mealtimes or situations involving food.
  6. Withdrawal from friends and family, especially events where food is involved.
  7. Your daughter no longer is menstruating (amenorrhea).

If a child starts to exhibit any of these anorexia warning signs, it may be time to sit down and have a serious discussion with them or to seek professional help, Szebeni says.

Andrea FeinbergAndrea Szebeni is a registered dietitian at Lighthouse Recovery Institute, a licensed drug, alcohol and eating disorder treatment center in Delray Beach, Florida,  where she specializes in eating disorder recovery treatments, wellness development and individual health and fitness. With more than 30 years of experience in the treatment of drug abuse, alcohol abuse, eating disorders and trauma, Lighthouse Recovery Institute specializes in recovery for women, , LRI's passionate team of doctors, therapists, and specialists provide nothing but the highest quality of care for every woman who walks through its doors. The center has a staff of 15, including a clinical director, therapists, nutritionist/dietician, yoga instructor and marketing team. Twelve of the staff are in recovery themselves.

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