There are many reasons people make the decision to not eat meat. Some simply prefer meals which do not consist of meat, while others feel bad about eating animals that had to suffer at the slaughter houses. Is it possible that a vegetarian diet may be a sign of an eating disorder? Here are some of the things that parents should know about the link between vegetarianism and eating disorders among teens.
Study on Vegetarianism and Eating Disorders
According to ABC News, a study of 15 to 23 year olds showed that there is a link between vegetarianism and eating disorders among teenagers and young adults. The study showed that vegetarians in this age bracket were more likely to report activities related to an eating disorder, including binge eating, purging, diet pill use and laxative abuse.
The link between vegetarianism and eating disorders is based on food restriction. Some teens and young adults may avoid eating meat to reduce their daily calorie intake. While there are plenty of teens who are vegetarians for the right reasons, others may be doing it simply to lose weight by avoiding the calories in meat.
Is Your Teen’s Vegetarian Diet a Sign of an Eating Disorder?
It is important to not assume that your teen has an eating disorder simply because she (or he) does not eat meat. This alone is not indicative of anorexia or bulimia nervosa. The best thing that you can do is look out for other signs of eating disorders. If your teen seems to be eating significantly less than usual, it could be because he or she is battling anorexia. Also be sure to consider what foods your teen will eat. If they avoid breads, pastas and rice, it could be because they are trying to reduce their calorie intake even more.
Teens who have tried various dieting techniques in the past and have low self-esteem about their bodies are more likely to experience an eating disorder. Be sure to look out for any food journals that your teen may have, including on paper or online. If they are counting their calories to ensure that they are low, it is likely that anorexia may be the cause of their newfound vegetarianism.
A vegetarian diet is not always caused by an eating disorder. Though there are some teens and young adults who avoid eating meat simply to reduce their calorie intake and lose weight, others are vegetarians for other reasons. The best thing that you can do is find out why your teenage daughter or son wants to stop eating meat. If it’s because they don’t like it or because they hate meat, this is perfectly acceptable. Even if they are trying to lose weight with a vegetarian diet, this is not altogether bad, as long as they are following a well-balanced diet that does not include meat.
ABC News, “Vegetarian Teens May Face Higher Eating Disorder Risk.”