Could Vegetarianism be Hiding an Eating Disorder?
While following a meat-free diet can be chosen for health, dietary and moral reasons, vegetarianism can also be used to hide an eating disorder.
In new research, published in the Journal of Academy of Nutritionists and Dietetics, it was found that 52 percent of women with a history of eating disorders have been a vegetarian at some time in their lives.
Just 12 percent of women that have never had an eating disorder have tried following a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Vanessa Kane-Alves, registered dietician with Boston Children's Hospital's eating disorder programme, told the Huffington Post: "Going vegetarian can be another way to cut out a food category, or a number of food categories, if you become a vegan.
"It makes it easier when people ask you questions about where those foods have gone. It's a more socially acceptable way to restrict foods."
She added that as a teenager, parents will be less likely to question them about being vegetarian, which may help them mask an eating disorder.
Parents of teenagers concerned that their child has an eating disorder, such as anorexia and bulimia, have several things they can look out for. Firstly, if your teen is hardly eating or has restricted their diet, such as becoming a vegan or vegetarian, this could be a sign.
It is worth asking them the motivation behind becoming a vegetarian and taking them to see a professional. Other factors to look out for include your teen believing they are fat when they are not, as this is a condition known as Anorexia Nervosa, which means a distorted body-perception.
This is often teamed with feelings of low self-esteem so if your teen is a perfectionist and never happy with what they do or how they look, they could go on to suffer from an eating disorder. That's because eating disorders are all about taking control of their life through what they do and do not eat.
If you recognise any of these symptoms in your teenager, it is wise to seek medical help.