Fickle Behavior — or Eating Disorder?

Rita often comments on how good her food tastes. Then she excuses herself and returns from the bathroom looking pale….

Shantel can't get enough exercise. She openly shares with the girls that she works out for several hours every day, seven days a week—rain or shine.

Marissa buys chips, soda, and candy bars and places them in her bag after eating four slices of pizza with the girls. Her cheeks are often puffy and she complains about fatigue and muscle aches, yet her weight is average for her age and frame.

Have you noticed these behaviors from the girls in your troop or group? Do you wonder if it's fickle behavior or could it be something more—an eating disorder?

Some symptoms of eating disorders are:

  • Binging and purging
  • Excessive
  • weight loss
  • Obsessive eating
  • Excessive use of over the counter laxatives
  • Hair loss
  • Compulsive exercise
  • Perfectionist attitude
  • Mood shifts including depression, sadness, guilt, and self-hate
  • Avoidance of social situations where food may be present
  • Eating small amounts in public while maintaining a high weight

How Can I Help?

Eating disorders are more than a problem with food. In fact, eating disorders represent symptoms of underlying problems, perhaps a way in which a girl can block out or numb painful feelings and emotions. So what do you do as a leader/advisor when you suspect a girl in your troop or group has an eating disorder? Here are some tips to help you deal with a girl you think may be "crossing a thin line."

Keep an eye on not only what girls are eating, but what might be eating them! Girls can recover from eating disorders with professional help, support, and encouragement.

The Girl Scout handbooks and guides for leaders or advisors have great activities and service projects, and party ideas for girls of all ages. Girls of all ages can learn about healthy eating, self esteem and ways to deal with stress through many Girl Scout activities and awards.