parents' guide to supporting a child through eating disorder recovery
parents' guide to supporting a child through eating disorder recovery

A Parent’s Guide to Support Their Child Through Eating Disorder Treatment

This brief guide strives to assist parents in supporting their child through treatment.

Do I Have an Eating Disorder?

You are the best at knowing yourself and the degree to which your preoccupations with food and body image interfere with your life. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions in this questionnaire, it may be an indication that you may benefit from support around food, weight, and/or exercise.

Exercise and Eating Disorders

Exercise and movement play a complicated role with eating disorders. While exercise certainly has its benefits, when taken to the extreme, it may be a sign of destructive coping. This resource discusses healing one’s relationship to compulsive exercise.

Eating Disorder Warning Signs and Symptoms

Since early detection of an eating disorder is a predictor of sustained recovery, it is important to know ED warning signs and symptoms. If you notice several of the symptoms listed below, please seek an evaluation with a professional trained in treating eating disorders.

So Your Child Has an Eating Disorder – 5 steps to Get Started

Finding out your child has an eating disorder may be some of the most difficult news you’ve ever received. Eating disorders are clouded in misunderstanding and misinformation, and having one in the family can feel very isolating.

As you organize treatment and recovery for your child, here are five things you can do to set yourself up for success.

men and eating disorders
men and eating disorders

Men and Eating Disorders

emilee
emilee

Emilee: The Story of a Girl and Her Family Hijacked by Anorexia by Linda Mazur and John Mazur

Emilee: The Story of a Girl and Her Family Hijacked by Anorexia reveals the cracks in our health care system, the institutions we are taught to trust, as well as our own prejudices and misinformation about eating disorders, mental illness, and addiction.

You are Enough By Jen Petro-Roy
You are Enough By Jen Petro-Roy

You are Enough By Jen Petro-Roy

This nonfiction self-help book for young readers with disordered eating and body image problems delivers real talk about eating disorders and body image, provides tools and information for recovery, and offers suggestions for dealing with the media messages that contribute so much to disordered eating.

Good Enough By Jen Petro-Roy
Good Enough By Jen Petro-Roy

Good Enough By Jen Petro-Roy

Written by an eating disorder survivor and activist, Good Enough is a realistic depiction of inpatient eating disorder treatment, and a moving story about a girl who has to fight herself to survive.

The Jots of Becoming By Lucie Waldman
The Jots of Becoming By Lucie Waldman

The Jots of Becoming By Lucie Waldman

The Jots of Becoming captures the story of my recovery from my Eating Disorder using journal entries containing insights and messages of hope. As someone who grew up involved in the Jewish community, the Jots of Becoming features narratives on recovering while Jewish.

the longest match
the longest match

The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Midlife By Betsy Brenner

The Longest Match: Rallying to Defeat an Eating Disorder in Midlife is a beautifully written and heartfelt memoir illustrating the trajectory from early childhood, through adolescence and early adulthood, to midlife when eating disorder thoughts and behaviors took over the author’s life. Journal entries reveal occasional negative thoughts about her weight or food in younger years, but the stressors of midlife knocked this high functioning woman off her feet.

Sick Enough By Dr. Jennifer Guadiani
Sick Enough By Dr. Jennifer Guadiani

Sick Enough By Dr. Jennifer Guadiani

Sick Enough offers patients, their families, and clinicians a comprehensive, accessible review of the medical issues that arise from eating disorders by bringing relatable case presentations and a scientifically sound, engaging style to the topic. Using metaphor and patient-centered language, Dr. Gaudiani aims to improve medical diagnosis and treatment, motivate recovery, and validate the lived experiences of individuals of all body shapes and sizes, while firmly rejecting dieting culture.

iMove: Helping Your Clients Heal from Compulsive Exercise By Amy Gardner
iMove: Helping Your Clients Heal from Compulsive Exercise By Amy Gardner

iMove: Helping Your Clients Heal from Compulsive Exercise By Amy Gardner

Pulling from her owen experience with compulsive exercise and from her work with many clients, Amy Gardner shows you how to help your clients move out of a compulsive exercise pattern.

newmoonrd

Meghan McGann, RD (she/her) is an anti-diet dietitian who advocates for inclusive care.

nic.mcdermid

Nic McDermid (she/her) is a fierce activist, feminist, advocate and content creator whose work focuses on disrupting the dominant discourse around weight and bodies, and challenging the ways in which certain types of bodies are both idolised and idealised.

pinkmantaray

Schuyler Bailar (he/him) is the first trans D1 NCAA men’s athlete. He is also in recovery from an eating disorder and self-harm.

projectheal

A national non-profit organization that provides resources and opportunities for individuals seeking treatment and recovery services.

queer.art_therapist

Wednesdae Reim Ifrach (They/Them) REAT, ATR-BC, ATCS, LPC, NCC, CLAT, LCMHC, LPCC is Fat, Trans/Non-Binary, Queer, Disabled. They hold a master’s degree in art therapy and their specialities include Their current specialties include gender affirming care, fat and body activism, intersectional social justice, complex trauma and eating disorder treatment.

resilientfatgoddex

SJ (they/them) is a Coach, Consultant, And Soon To Be Social Worker Focused On Fat Liberation Based In Anti-Racism And Anti-Colonialism.

theshirarose

Shira Rose (she/her) is an eating disorder therapist, LCSW who operates from a fat positive + Health At Every Size framework

Project Heal

A national non-profit organization that provides resources and opportunities for individuals seeking treatment and recovery services.

National Alliance for Eating Disorders

The leading national non-profit organization providing education, referrals, and support for all individuals experiencing eating disorders, as well as their loved ones

bodyjusticetherapist

Allyson Inez Ford is an eating disorders and OCD therapist. Social justice is an integral part of her work and she operates from a HAES lens.

heydrsand

Dr. Sand Chang (they/them) is a Nonbinary Somatic Therapist & DEI Consultant. Their work focuses on body liberation, trans health, and eating disorders

encouragingdietitian

Christyna Johnson, MS, RD, LDN is a non-diet registered dietitian specializing in eating disorder, disordered eating, intuitive eating, and body image. She sees the world through a liberation lens and advocates for collective care to move us forward.

edadhd_therapist

Stacie Fanelli, LCSW is an AuDHD eating disorder therapist who discusses neurodivergence, EDs, intersectionality & treatment reform

drrachelmillner

Dr. Rachel Millner is a psychologist, Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Supervisor, and a Certified Body Trust® provider. Her work is trauma-informed, fat-positive, anti-diet and rooted in feminist theory, relational theory, social justice, and body liberation

drcolleenreichmann

Dr. Colleen Reichmann is a clinical psychologist whose writing and work focus on body image, eating disorders, motherhood, and feminism.

dr.jenniewh

Dr. Jennie Wang-Hall is a liberatory eating disorders psychologist creating community spaces for anti-carceral and agentic care

dietitiananna

Anna Sweeney, MS, RDN, CED-S is a relational nutrition therapist who specializes in eating disorders, disordered eating, and chronic illness

alliancefored

The leading national nonprofit organization providing education, referrals, and support for all eating disorders.

ANAD

The leading nonprofit in the U.S. that provides free, peer support services to anyone struggling with an eating disorder, regardless of age, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or background. ANAD has a free, Eating Disorders Helpline which is available for treatment referrals, support and encouragement, and general questions about eating disorders.

F.E.A.S.T.

A global community offering support, education, and empowerment to families of people affected by eating disorders. F.E.A.S.T. is an international non-profit ofo and for parents and caregivers fo loved ones affected by eating disorders.

Academy for Eating Disorders (AED)

The AED helps physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, nutritionists, academic researchers, students, and experts through lived experience connect and collaborate with each other and keep abreast of recent developments in eating disorders research.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder & Anorexia Nervosa

Body Dysmorphic Disorder & Anorexia Nervosa

by Eating Disorder Hope Guest Columnist, Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC

The way that we view our bodies and feel existing in them is of the utmost importance. Body image can influence our self-view, feelings of worth, and fulfillment with our lives and ourselves. A negative or toxic body image has implications that can vary from feeling uncomfortable in one’s skin to having low self-worth to developing disordered eating, exercising, and living habits. Body Dysmorphic Disorder is commonly discussed in disordered eating circles and important to explore for anyone that loves or works with someone with an eating disorder.

Beyond Body Image

You are likely aware that body image involves the representations an individual has about their physical appearance. What is less commonly discussed is that body image is the subcategories body image can fall into – perceptual, affective, cognitive, and behavioral [1].

Perceptual body image refers to how an individual perceives their body. For example, feeling that they are “too thin” or have a body part that is “too big.” Affective body image is the feeling that one has about their body, “especially the amount of satisfaction or dissatisfaction you experience in relation to your appearance, weight, shape, and body parts [1].”

Cognitive body image refers to the thoughts and beliefs that individuals have about themselves. Finally, behavioral body image includes the behaviors individuals engage in as a result of their body images, such as disordered eating, excessive exercising, or self-harming behaviors.

Considering body image from each of these perspectives can help an individual look more deeply at how they relate to their body and learn which area their self-view and body image is most harmful.

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Woman struggling with Body Dysmorphic DisorderFor an individual with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), all 4 of these areas of their body image are likely distorted. Individuals with BDD go beyond having negative thoughts about their body to have an “intense preoccupation with a perceived flaw in one’s physical appearance [2].”

For those that struggle with BDD, “large amounts of time may be spent checking their appearance in the mirror, comparing their appearance with others, and engaging in behaviours designed to try to hide or conceal the area of concern [2].”

Typically, these perceived flaws are non-existent or so insignificant that others do not perceive them. Even so, being told this will not decrease the obsessiveness these individuals feel.

“BDD is a distressing condition which is often associated with depression, social anxiety, and feelings of shame. BDD often creates significant interference with day-to-day activities, as it can limit one’s desire to leave the house, socialise, and participate in activities such as work or study [2].”

BDD and Anorexia Nervosa

BDD is commonly associated with eating disorders, as individuals will engage in disordered eating and exercise behaviors to alter a perceived flaw. A recent study found that Anorexia Nervosa and BDD also have a neurological component in common.

The study, completed by UCLA researchers, determined that “found that abnormalities in brain function are related to severity of symptoms in both disorders, and may be useful in developing new treatment methods [3].”

One study creator, Dr. Wesley Kerr, stated, “these are brain abnormalities, and how we treat those brain abnormalities could be with psychotherapy, or psychiatric medications, but brain changes need to happen in order to address these disorders [3].”

This study, and numerous others, serve to remind us that disorders such as anorexia nervosa and BDD are not simply choices related to eating (or not eating) food. These disorders are much complex, with biopsychosocial components that must be considered.


Resources:

[1] Unknown (2020). What is body image. National Eating Disorders Collaboration, retrieved from https://www.nedc.com.au/assets/Fact-Sheets/NEDC-Fact-Sheet-Body-Image.pdf.

[2] Anderson, R. et al (2012). Understanding body dysmorphic disorder. Centre for Clinical Interventions. ISBN: 0 9757995 9 2.

[3] University of California – Los Angeles Health Sciences (2020). People with anorexia and body dysmorphic disorder show brain similarities, differences: Key patterns of brain function are more pronounced with more severe symptoms.” Science Daily, 11.


About the Author:

Image of Margot Rittenhouse.Margot Rittenhouse, MS, PLPC, NCC is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims, and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder Hope and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.

Tips for Preventing Eating Disorder Relapse

Tips for Preventing Eating Disorder Relapse by Timberline Knolls Staff

Recovering from an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or binge-eating disorder, is often a process that can take a significant amount of time. The recovery process is different for each person, and for many people, relapse might be a part of that journey. However, there are measures you can take to help decrease your chances of experiencing relapse as you progress through your recovery journey.

Understanding Eating Disorder Relapse

Even after someone has participated in treatment for an eating disorder, they may still be at risk for relapse of some of the symptoms they struggled with previously. In fact, according to a 2016 study in the journal BMC Psychiatry, studies on relapse prevention have found that up to 41% of patients in recovery from anorexia nervosa experience relapse within 18 months.

Many different influences can trigger the compulsion to engage in disordered eating behaviors after treatment, including:

  • Experiencing extreme stress or trauma
  • Becoming pregnant or having a baby
  • Being around someone who is on a restrictive diet
  • Starting a new relationship or going through a breakup
  • Experiencing an injury that keeps you from exercising
  • Any weight gain, whether age or health-related

Eating disorders are complex illnesses that no two people experience the same way, so each person has their own personal triggers that may make them more vulnerable to relapse. What might be a trigger for one person might not be a trigger for another.

Eating Disorder Relapse Prevention Tips
Viewing recovery from an eating disorder as a journey rather than a destination is the first step toward preventing relapse. This requires a firm understanding that the healing process may take years depending on your unique situation. Your journey might be shorter — or longer — than others’, but the key is to prepare for the process. These are some of the most beneficial relapse prevention tools to add to your recovery toolkit:

  • Identify your triggers: Understanding what situations and emotions trigger the urge to engage in disordered eating behaviors can help you anticipate these influences before they become triggers. Identifying your triggers can also help you understand why you might be struggling to cope with specific situations.

  • Turn to your support system: Two major factors of eating disorders are secrecy and isolation. To prevent these influences from creeping back in, turn to a trusted friend or family member when you’re feeling triggered and let them know you’re struggling. If the symptoms you’re experiencing start to become overwhelming, ask your support network for help.

If you do experience a relapse, it does not mean you have failed. There is hope for recovery no matter where you are in your wellness journey. With some preparation and self-awareness, you can minimize your risk for experiencing a relapse.

Maintaining Recovery During the Summer

Written by Registered Dietitian Vanessa Garcia, RD from Oliver-Pyatt Centers 

In this blog, Vanessa offers some tips in helping to maintain continued recovery during the summer months. 

Throughout the year, summer months can often be the busiest of times. Some individuals may be ending their current college year and transitioning towards their next, or even entering the workforce. Others may be parents with a new change in schedule as their children are on their summer break and spending more time at home. For many, summer is widely considered the perfect time to take a vacation! While this season is regularly known to be a staple of transition, change, and an opportunity for leisure, summer may also pose potential challenges for clients to face during recovery.

Typically, in a treatment setting, clients learn to adapt to a daily schedule and have a higher focus on meals, snacks, clinician appointments, and programming hours. This usual stability allows for clients to gain confidence towards their recovery and adhere to their meal plan. However, if clients are either discharging from treatment during the summer or experiencing their first summer outside of treatment, most likely there are some upcoming daily routine changes. Clients may find it more difficult to follow their normal daily meal plan. This may lead to deprivation of nutrition and variety, and higher risks for behavior engagement. Additionally, eating disorder behaviors and urges are known to rise during times of change.

Some signs for families or loved ones to know if their loved one may need residential treatment include fluctuations in weight, decreased variety and portions of meals or snacks, missing meals or refusing food, increased time using the bathroom, isolation from family or friends, eating alone or lying about eating, excessive exercise, rigid eating patterns, social withdrawal, and change of mood.

For clients that have recently discharged from treatment, it is highly recommended for them to continue scheduling routine sessions with outpatient team members including therapist, dietitian, psychiatrist and medical doctor. This way, ongoing support may be provided and potential summer challenges can be discussed during sessions while pursuing recovery at home. Additionally, for those seeking individual or family support during summer months, it is also recommended to seek outpatient care providers with possibility of a higher level of care for a loved one.

 For more information about Oliver-Pyatt Centers, please call 855.254.5642visit our websitesubscribe to our blog, and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

This blog was originally published at http://www.oliverpyattcenters.com/maintaining-recovery-during-the-summer/ and is republished here with permission.