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

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.

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.

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.


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


Non-conventional eating disorder awareness organization run by Gloria Lucas (she/her). Her work focuses on eating disorder harm reduction.


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


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.

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

Project Heal

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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.

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.

Is it Binge Eating Disorder (BED) or are you stuck in a vicious cycle?

Is it Binge Eating Disorder (BED) or are you stuck in a vicious cycle?

Written by Graduate Clinical Intern and Clinical Support Specialist, Meagan Mullen

Binge eating disorder is an eating disorder characterized by episodes of uncontrollable eating, typically not followed by compensatory behaviors. People often get confused and believe that if they are engaging in a binge, they automatically meet criteria for a BED diagnosis, but that’s not always the case!

Let’s break it down by taking a look at Binge Eating Disorder, Bulimia Nervosa, and the binge-restrict cycle.

As previously stated, BED is characterized by episodes of binge eating that are usually not followed by compensatory behaviors such as vomiting, laxative abuse, fasting, or excessive exercise. Bulimia Nervosa, however, differs from BED in the sense that people with this disorder do engage in these modes of compensation. People often believe that Bulimia Nervosa strictly refers to self-induced vomiting after eating, but purging can refer to many different kinds of unhealthy compensation.

Despite the fact that these two diagnoses exist, many people engage in binge eating but do not meet criteria for BED or Bulimia. Instead, they find themselves stuck in a cycle of bingeing and restricting, often unsure of how to stop the cycle and get the help they deserve.

People can find themselves in this cycle for a variety of reasons, but let’s take a look at two of the most common ways people get stuck in this pattern.

Many people begin a diet in hopes of controlling their weight or shape, but after time, they’re physically and psychologically depleted. Dieting can lead to obsessive thoughts about food and feelings of extreme hunger. When people experience extreme hunger paired with an increase in thoughts about food and eating, they’re more likely to binge. Dieting (which is a form of restricting), often denies the body of necessary nutrients. This will lead to hunger that sometimes results in bingeing.

After a binge, however, people are overwhelmed by feelings of shame. They often believe that they lack the willpower to “successfully” diet. They’re shamed by the media and by diet culture and ultimately recommit to a restricting their intake. And as we know, restriction leads to physical and psychological depletion, which can ultimately lead to a binge. Thus creating the cycle of bingeing and restricting.

An alternative way that people find themselves stuck in this cycle is when the binge eating occurs first. If someone is struggling with binge-eating and is using food as a way to cope with uncomfortable emotions, they might result to restricting their intake due to the shame they feel about engaging in these behaviors. Oftentimes, people will restrict the day after a binge, eating small amounts of food at breakfast and lunch, or throughout the day entirely.

However, after making it through most of the day on an insufficient amount of food, people experience hunger at the end of the day. The combination of a lack of food and exhaustion can also lead to another binge. This evening binge can lead to more feelings of shame, therein restarting the cycle.

This pattern of bingeing and restricting can lead to health problems, such as cardiac issues, metabolic issues, and various emotional and mood disturbances. While someone engaging in this cycle might not be diagnosed with BED or bulimia, they may be given a diagnosis of OSFED or Unspecified Feeding or Eating Disorder. Both of these diagnoses are serious and deserve proper treatment and attention.

If you or someone you know is engaging in this cyclical pattern of eating, recovery is possible. Many people who struggle with eating disorders or disordered eating receive the help they need through therapy, nutrition therapy, and other group and individual supports.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, or if you feel like you might be stuck in the binge-restrict cycle, MEDA is here to help, and fully recovery is possible!

Mindful & Intuitive Eating for BED Recovery

Mindful & Intuitive Eating for BED Recovery

Written by MEDA undergraduate intern, Stephanie Wall 

Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is the most common eating disorder in the United States (NEDA, 2018). About 3.5% of American women, 2% of American men, and 1.6% of American adolescents currently suffer from BED (ED Referral, 2018). It is characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food, often very quickly and to the point of discomfort. Those who suffer from BED tend to feel a loss of control during the binge and experience shame, distress, or guilt afterwards. Further, compensatory measures, such as using laxatives or forcing oneself to vomit, are not enacted to counter the binge. In addition to typical therapy for eating disorders, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), using both intuitive and mindful eating techniques can be quite powerful in helping those struggling with BED.

A common symptom of BED is engaging in any new practice with food or fad diets. This contributes to body dissatisfaction, food and body preoccupation, and weight stigmatization (Tribole, 2017). The fallout from this mindset is mandating what and when one eats, regardless of one’s biological needs. In those with BED, this rigidity can lead to a binge, and thus feelings of a loss of control. This is known as the binge/restrict cycle.

Intuitive eating can be helpful in breaking this cycle. Intuitive eating is a personal process of honoring your health by responding to your body’s biological signals (Tribole, 2017). Here at MEDA, the EmbodiED Group focuses on self-compassion in their sessions, emphasizing this idea. Because a major idea in intuitive eating is listening to oneself and meeting one’s needs, the individual undergoing this change must be ready for it. This is a key factor for therapy to work, which is why intuitive eating works best for those who have the internal motivation to recover.

One major component of intuitive eating is “legalizing all food” (Hirschmann, 158). This means viewing all food in the same way, in order to remove the idea of “good” vs. “bad” calories. Because namely “junk food” is consumed during a binge, removing the negative connotation associated with that food may help alleviate some of the guilt felt after a binge. This also destroys the idea of “trigger foods” because all food is seen as the same. Many individuals who suffer from BED believe that even the slightest consumption of a certain kind of food will automatically invoke a binge session. According to Dr. Sandra Aamodt, a neuroscientist, hunger and energy use are controlled by the brain, mostly without one’s awareness. Thus, if we truly listen to our bodies and eat without guilt, the more we will naturally crave nutritious food.

Moreover, the idea of the “clean the plate club” has to be disregarded for intuitive eating to work. Being sure that everything on a plate is eaten disconnects us from our bodies and our feelings of fullness (Tribole, 2017). The basis of intuitive eating is to eat when hunger strikes. By legalizing all food as well as ending adherence to rigid rules, intuitive eating can be achieved.

Often those with BED eat when they are overwhelmed and stressed. To eat both intuitively and mindfully, we must ask ourselves how we are feeling and thus why we are eating. As a therapy, having the patience to sit with their feelings instead of eating to quell them is very effective (Tribole, 169). This coincides with mindful eating, based on concepts in the Buddhist faith, which involves being fully aware of what is happening within and around you in the moment. In addition to learning how to eat intuitively, learning how to eat mindfully is important.

Staying present and mindful while eating “allows you to feel the direct experience of your body and the many sensations of eating” (Tribole, 137). Someone who eats mindfully acknowledges that there is no right or wrong way to eat, varies their degree of awareness surrounding the experience of food, accepts that their eating experiences are unique, directs their attention to eating on a moment-by-moment basis, and gains awareness of how they can make choices that support health and wellbeing (The Center for Mindful Eating, 2013). A common method for eating mindfully is eating with one’s non-dominant hand. In one study, participants were instructed to eat popcorn while watching a movie. Unknown to them, the popcorn was a mix of fresh and stale. Those who ate with their non-dominant hand recognized the stale popcorn, and ate less of both the stale and fresh popcorn. Their counterparts didn’t recognize the stale popcorn and ate more (Tribole, 2017).

Experts suggest starting gradually with mindful eating by eating one meal a day or week in a slower, more attentive, manner. Thinking about the flavor, texture, temperature, and aromas of what you want to eat before you settle down to eat will help you eat in a mindful manner (Tribole, 135).

Intuitive and mindful eating are quite useful for re-establishing one’s relationship with food, however these concepts will not address all components of the eating disorder. Typical forms of therapy proven to work include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and interpersonal psychotherapy. By working on both the physiological and psychological aspects of Binge Eating Disorder, recovery can be achieved.


Aamodt, S. (2013, June). Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work. Lecture presented at TEDGlobal 2013. Retrieved August 2, 2018, from

Baer, R., Fischer, S., & Huss, D. (2006, March 03). Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy applied to binge eating: A case study. Retrieved August 2, 2018, from

ED Referral. (2018). What is Binge Eating Disorder? Retrieved August 7, 2018, from

Harvard Health Publishing. (2018). Mindful eating may help with weight loss – Harvard Health. Retrieved July 31, 2018, from

Hirschmann, J. R., & Munter, C. H. (2010). Overcoming overeating. Place of publication not identified: OO Publishing.

McQuillan, S. (2014, October 21). Mindful Eating Helps Prevent Overeating. Retrieved July 31, 2018, from

NEDA. (2018, February 22). Binge Eating Disorder. Retrieved July 26, 2018, from

The Center for Mindful Eating. (2013, August). Introducing Mindful Eating. Retrieved July 31, 2018, from

Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2017). The Intuitive eating workbook: Ten principles for nourishing a healthy relationship with food. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications.


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 and is republished here with permission.