Thursday, September 21, 2023

What To Do If Your Child Has An Eating Disorder

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It’s Okay To Take A Rest Day

How Can I Tell if My Child Has an Eating Disorder?

Resting seems quite an obvious thing, doesn’t it? But for someone in recovery, they’re likely still in the mindset of having to do everything and more. And sometimes, they just need someone to tell them that it’s okay to sit down and relax, that nothing will happen to them/their body if they take a day off in bed. Recovering is extremely tiring, it takes the life out of you. And it is okay to take a day off from school/college/work to take care of your body and mind. It’s just that most of us forget that sometimes, and being told that it’s okay to take a rest can make the difference between feeling absolutely shattered or guilty, and feeling ready to take on another challenging day.

How On Earth Can I Get My Child To Eat

It seems impossible. Hey, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be anorexia, or bulimia or binge-eating disorder in its restrictive phases. But there are many ways of making it much more possible than you think. You can hear me explain and demonstrate tips in my Bitesize audios, and I share every useful tool in my book. Also, check out my online workshops.

You will find many tips and examples in Chapters 7 , Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 . More below

Why Compassion Helps With Eating Disorder Recovery

Many people suffering from eating disorders feel compelled to repeat a self-destructive behavior despite evidence that it is harmful. Eating disorders can baffle people. They wonder why cant you just eat healthy? But they are more complex than just food and weight.

Eating disorders are behavioral addictions that soothe and calm someone who feels anxious and out of control. Most people who have eating disorders also feel a sense of low self-worth. They seek to bolster their self-worth through food and exercise behaviors. They believe they will be more worthy when they achieve a certain weight.

Having compassion for a person who has an eating disorder means understanding that food and weight are just the tip of the iceberg. Compassion means that we understand that our child needs more than just food and eating advice. They need our affection, attention, and unconditional love.

The compassion mindset flips your thinking about the disorder from this has to stop! to how can I support her towards change?

Your child may need a team of professionals to recover. But compassion is something that you can give her for free, day in and day out. Practicing compassion will pay dividends for everyone in your family and your life.

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The Principles Of Self

Self Kindness

When we make a mistake or fail in some way, we often use harsh, critical internal language Youre so stupid and lazy, Im ashamed of you! We would be unlikely to say such things to a close friend, or even a stranger for that matter. With self-kindness, we are supportive and understanding toward ourselves. Our inner dialogues are gentle and encouraging rather than harsh and belittling. This means that instead of continually punishing ourselves for not being good enough, we kindly acknowledge that were doing the best we can. Similarly, when external life circumstances are challenging and difficult to bear, we soothe and nurture ourselves.

Common Humanity

The sense of common humanity recognizes that everyone fails, makes mistakes, and gets it wrong sometimes. We do not always get what we want and are often disappointed either in ourselves or in our life circumstances. This is part of the human experience, a basic fact of life shared with everyone else on the planet. With self-compassion, we take the stance of a compassionate other toward ourselves, allowing us to take a broader perspective on our selves and our lives. By remembering the shared human experience, we feel less isolated when we are in pain. Self-compassion recognizes that we all suffer.


Talking About The Dangers Of Dieting

Children and Eating Disorders  Westchester Family

If you want to teach young people about eating disorders, Dr. Muhlheim suggests that parents instead teach their kids about the dangers of dieting, a behavior that is the most common gateway into an eating disorder. You also should not talk about healthy eating but should express and model flexible eating with an “all foods fit” philosophy.

“Parents also can model and teach body positivity and intuitive flexible eating, which may help protect against an eating disorder,” she says. ” should avoid labeling foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ or talking about dieting or disparaging people in bigger bodies.”

Try to educate your kids about body diversitythe fact that bodies naturally come in different sizes and shapes and that no one body size is superior. You also can talk to your kids about what they are learning about fitness and health in general.

“Unlike most other mental disorders, eating disorders tend to be glorified in our culture,” says Dr. Muhlheim. “Thus, must be done with care not to describe eating disorder behaviors.”

Parents can also teach children about the unrealistic images of bodies they see in media and how these images are used in marketing, she adds.

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Trust Your Parental Instincts

It is common for individuals with eating disorders to not even be aware they have a problem. This is called anosognosia. Your child is likely to deny there is a problem when asked directly. Do not let this throw you off. Watch and observe them closely. Review potential warning signs in children and signs in older individuals.

Support For Your Child

If your child is being treated for an eating disorder, their treatment team will play a big part in their recovery.

But do not underestimate the importance of your love and support.

It may help to:

  • learn as much as possible about eating disorders, so you understand what you’re dealing with
  • keep telling them that you love them and will always be there for them
  • make them aware of the professional help available
  • suggest activities they could do that do not involve food, such as hobbies and spending time with friends
  • ask them what you can do to help
  • try to be honest about your own feelings, as this will encourage them to do the same
  • be a good role model by eating a balanced diet and doing a healthy amount of exercise
  • try to build their confidence, for example, praise them for being thoughtful or congratulate them on something they’ve done

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What To Do When Your Child Has A Relapse

When your child has an eating disorder relapse, consider these steps to handle it:

1. Center yourself. Think of the math analogy. What would you do if this were any other type of challenge in your childs life? Take away the stigma and automatic thoughts you have about your childs future mental health, and center yourself on the knowledge that you do not have power over the eating disorder, but you do have the power to make some environmental changes that can be very helpful to your childs recovery.

2. Scan the environment. Eating disorders are very sensitive to stress. Scan your childs environment and calmly assess the stressors, new, old, and upcoming, that exist. Stressors are not always bad sometimes they are positive and exciting. Starting a new job, making new friends, and going on a long-anticipated vacation can all be stressors. Even though they are positive in nature, they are still stressful. Help your child identify the stressors that may have contributed to relapse. None of us can live without stress, but during recovery we need to learn to anticipate, manage and process stress in healthy ways.

Bulimia Nervosa Treatment At Clementine

Teenage eating disorder “Help my child has an eating disorder”

Clementine is an affiliate of Monte Nido, a well-respected network of eating disorder treatment facilities. At Clementine, we serve adolescents exclusively. We understand that adolescents experience eating disorders in a uniquely, and all of our programs are tailored specifically to members of this age group.

At our facility, we believe that eating disorders like bulimia nervosa are complex and arise from several different factors. All of our programs are customized to meet the needs of each patient, based on the patients background and the nature of their specific experience with bulimia nervosa. We offer a combination of medical and psychiatric care to give patients the best chance of making a full recovery from bulimia nervosa.

If you think your child may be struggling with bulimia nervosa or another eating disorder, you need to seek professional help as soon as possible. Please contact Clementine today to learn more about our programs or to set up an appointment.

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If You Or Anyone You Know Needs Help:

But it wasn’t until Julie attempted suicide that Meryl learnt the full extent of what her daughter was grappling with.

“We put her into a private psych ward and she was just getting sicker and sicker, and then her weight loss was really acute,” Meryl says.

It was a mental health nurse who warned the family what was happening.

“She said to us, ‘Don’t wait. Your daughter has an eating disorder. I’m betting that she has anorexia. Get her down to an ED clinic as soon as possible’,” Meryl says.

Is Recovery From An Eating Disorder Possible What Does ‘remission’ Mean

Therapists, families and especially researchers tend to mean different things by ‘recovery’. It’s an emotional word for carers and sufferers. Some therapists work towards full recovery as a realistic goal, while others believe the patient will always need to manage some level of risk. Whichever way you look at it, there is hope for your child lots of it, as I discuss here.

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Schedule An Appointment With Treatment Specialists

Do your best to set up an appointment with treatment specialists so your child can be properly evaluated. Encourage your child to actively participate in the process of reviewing treatment programs and making a decision. When your child is involved in the decision-making process, resistance to treatment may be lower.

When To Talk About Eating Disorders

What to do if your child has an eating disorder?

Eating disorders are a growing issue in the U.S., where 30 million people have an eating disorder. Meanwhile, 95% of those people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25.

Those with eating disorders also have the highest risk of death of any mental illness. For this reason, it is important to talk to your child about eating disorders if you suspect an issue.

“If a parent is concerned about a behavior they are observing in their child, I think they should definitely address it with them,” says Lauren Muhlheim, PsyD, a psychologist and certified disordered eating specialist with Eating Disorder Therapy LA. “The risk of asking about it is lower than the risk of not asking. They can let their child know that they are observing some behaviors and let them know they are worriedthey can do so without suggesting other behaviors.”

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Be Aware Of The Signs

Meryl, whose daughter remains chronically ill a decade later, says she wishes she’d known to seek help as soon as possible.

While puberty is a “high-risk time for an eating disorder to grab hold”, children pick up on weight and appearance-related messages from a very young age, explains Christine Morgan, CEO of The Butterfly Foundation for Eating Disorders.

That means significantly younger girls and boys can also be affected.

Ms Morgan says it’s important to know that although significant shifts in weight can be a warning sign, eating disorders aren’t always accompanied by drastic weight loss.

Research shows the number of people with both an eating disorder and obesity has grown in recent decades.

Parents should be on the lookout not just for full-blown eating disorder symptoms, but for body dissatisfaction, such as “suggesting their body isn’t the right size or shape and they’ve got to change”.

This won’t necessarily lead to an eating disorder but there are “strong causal links”, Ms Morgan says.

If their conversations begin to focus on people’s appearance, fitness and weight, “that is when you know it’s a dangerous time and the adolescent is being consumed by that way of thinking”, says Vivienne Lewis, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at The University of Canberra.

Approach Your Loved One

A few things are important to keep in mind here: understanding, compassion, and listening.

Understand that anorexia isnt just about refusing to eat. Its not about vanity. Anorexia is a mental illness and individuals struggle with intense guilt, shame, and anxiety. Malnutrition leads to brain impairment and eating becomes a battle, rather than an easy choice. Fears of eating and weight gain become so extreme that normal eating can be terrifying.

Approach your loved one with compassion. Express your concern and tell them how much you care about them. Say something like, I love you and Im really worried about you and your eating. Ive noticed that youve been restricting your diet and Id like to talk about it.

Focus on listening. Many parents try to fix the problem by saying things like You just need to eat or Thats ridiculous. You arent fat and look great. This approach can lead to increased frustration and defensiveness. Instead, listen to your child and offer support, such as I have been really worried about your eating. Lets talk about whats been going on. Listen to what he or she has to say and provide comfort and support. You could say I am so sorry that you have been going through this and Lets try to come up with a plan to help you feel better.

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You’re Worth More Than Your Eating Disorder

Something that’s often forgotten and overlooked, is that the person suffering and the eating disorder are two separate things. Someone has an eating disorder, no one is an eating disorder. The terms “anorexic” and “bulimic” were created and have been used wrongly. Someone has anorexia, they’re not an anorexic. Hearing from someone that you’re worth more than the hell you’re going through gives that little sparkle of hope that can help someone through a hard time.

What Are The Different Types Of Eating Disorder

Eating Disorders Program

There are a number of different types of eating disorder, each with their own unique features.


People with anorexia are obsessed with being thin, have an irrational fear of gaining weight, and a distorted body image . People with anorexia try to keep their weight as low as possible and often achieve this by starving themselves and engaging in ‘purging’ behaviours where they try to remove calories from their body.


People with bulimia tend to binge and then make themselves sick, abuse laxatives or exercise excessively to try and get rid of the calories consumed . These binge-purge cycles are driven by an obsessive need to control food intake, and can be triggered by stress, anxiety or hunger. Bulimia can be harder to spot than anorexia because often, someone with bulimia stays a ‘normal’ weight.

Binge eating disorder

People with binge eating disorder binge eat on a regular basis, often eating huge amounts of unhealthy food, even when they are not hungry. However, people with BED dont show any purging behaviours, which means that they are likely to become obese.

Eating disorders not otherwise specified

Eating disorders not otherwise specified , also referred to as atypical eating disorders, can resemble other forms of eating disorder but do not meet the exact requirements in order to receive a formal diagnosis.

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My Child Has Terrible Meltdowns

Our children can go through periods of extreme panic, where they disconnect from reality, perhaps screaming, hitting themselves, and perhaps getting pretty delusional about their body shape.

As you expect, lots of help on this in my book and in Bitesize.

In short: of course you will aim to use your skills of compassion. But if your child is locked in their nightmare, they may not hear you, so your empathy doesn’t get a way in.

In these situations it’s often most effective to connect our children to reality.

Give them clear instructions that will make their body move, and that will distract them from their nightmarish thoughts: “Come brush your teeth. Yes, now. Come on.”

Get them to reconnect with their physical senses: “Let’s count five blue things in the room. Come on, I’ll help you. There’s the blue mug over there. What else?” Some youngsters have prepared a kit ahead of time, with items that are tactile. Some come back to reality when parent hugs them, or runs an ice cube over their face. You can also ask your child to guess what letter you are drawing as you run their finger on their arm or in the palm of their hand.

And obviously, model calm confidence. Your child needs to know there is no real danger. If you’re not scared, maybe there’s nothing to be scared about.

Does My Child Has An Eating Disorder

Eating disorders commonly develop from the age of 14. This is a time when young people are becoming more independent and parents often have less control over the food they eat.

It can also be a time when your relationship with your child goes through many changes, often resulting in difficult conflicts. Equally, your child may become more distant from you.

It can be difficult to know whether changes in your childs behaviour are the result of normal teenage development, or whether they are signs of an eating disorder.

My daughter has lost over a stone and become very distant and moody. But my friend says she is just a normal teenage girl.

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