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Holiday Baking Frenzy May Mask Eating Disorder in College Kids

The holiday season brings out the urge to bake in even the most reluctant cook. But if your normally kitchen-averse kid suddenly begins baking up a storm after returning home// from college, take notice. Excessive cooking or preoccupation with food may signal an eating disorder like anorexia.

'Many persons with eating disorders love to cook and will constantly cook and bake for their family or friends,' said Theresa Fassihi, PhD, a psychologist with the Eating Disorders Program at The Menninger Clinic in Houston. 'They may bake all day, but not eat a single thing themselves.'

She added that some persons with eating disorders may get vicarious pleasure from watching others eat, and enjoy being in control while others give in to the fattening foods.

While baking is a normal, enjoyable part of the holiday experience, it could be a warning flag if coupled with other signs and symptoms of eating disorders. Eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, binge eating and over exercising. While eating disorders occur more frequently in women, men may also develop an eating disorder. Nearly 10 million females and 1 million males are currently struggling with an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

'College is a major life transition, and some young adults develop eating disorders during this time,' Dr. Fassihi said. 'They may be scared that they will gain the infamous 'Freshman 15,' they may be influenced by their roommates or peers who diet or they may feel pressure to be a certain weight to compete athletically.'
College kids may also believe choosing what to eat and not to eat gives them some sense of control over their new lives and makes them feel safe, Dr. Fassihi added.

Parents may notice changes in their college-aged child's eating behavior during the holiday season, because many students return home for more than a day or so for the first
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