nurture by Heidi Schauster, MS, RD, CEDS-S, SEP

There is so much confusing information about feeding families out there. Nurture: How to Raise Kids Who Love Food, Their Bodies, and Themselves is an expanded follow-up to Nourish, my first award-winning book. Nurture is a compassionate guide for parents and caregivers about feeding, eating, and discussing bodies with children and teens. I write from my nearly 30 years of experience treating clients with disordered eating, my own lived experience as a recovered person, and as a parent of two young adults. I weave stories from my clients’ and families’ experiences with sound advice based on current research. The book reads like a conversation with a kind fellow parent who has happened to do decades of fieldwork on the topic. It’s a sane and sound read that everyone who spends time with kids will benefit from reading.

This book is a life-enhancing tool for:

  • Parents and caregivers who have had their own food and body issues and don’t want to pass them on to the next generation

  • Parents and caregivers with kids exhibiting body image concerns

  •  Parents and caregivers with kids exhibiting disordered eating who want direction

  • Parents and caregivers with kids in larger bodies who feel unclear as to how to help them in the fat-phobic culture we live in

  • Parents and caregivers with picky eaters who don’t want to create dynamics around food that might lead to eating and body issues later in life

  • People who spend time with children and teens and want to create an inclusive health-and-well-being-enhancing culture around them

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.

9 Truths About Eating Disorders

tips for educators - how to help a student with an eating disorder
tips for educators - how to help a student with an eating disorder

Tips for Educators: How to Help a Student with an Eating Disorder

Tips for Parents: How to Promote Positive Body Image

tips for parents and caregivers
tips for parents and caregivers

Tips for Parents and Caregivers

how to create a body positive environment
how to create a body positive environment

How to Create a Body Positive Environment: Tips for Teachers and Staff

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.

Your Body is Brilliant: Body Respect for Children By Sigrun Danielsdottir

Bodies do all sorts of amazing things, like move around, grow bigger and heal themselves. Bodies also come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and we need to take care of them so that they stay healthy and strong. If we listen to our bodies they tell us exactly what they need.

The colourful illustrations in this unique picture book will encourage children to love their bodies from an early age. By learning about all the wonderful things bodies can do, and how each body is different and unique, children will be inspired to take good care of their bodies throughout their lives. Promoting respect for body diversity among children will also encourage kindness and help prevent bullying.

This book is ideal for children aged 4-7 to read at home or school, either alone or with a parent, family member, teacher or other caring professional.

Celebrate Your Body (And It's Changes, Too!): A Body-Positive Guide for Girls 8+ By Sonya Renee Taylor
Celebrate Your Body (And It's Changes, Too!): A Body-Positive Guide for Girls 8+ By Sonya Renee Taylor

Celebrate Your Body (And It’s Changes, Too!): A Body-Positive Guide for Girls 8+ By Sonya Renee Taylor

A body-positive guide to help girls ages 8 to 12 navigate the changes of puberty and grow into women.

Raising Body Positive Teens: A Parent's Guide to Diet-Free Living, Exercise and Body Image By Signe Darpinian, Wendy Sterling, Shelley Aggarwal
Raising Body Positive Teens: A Parent's Guide to Diet-Free Living, Exercise and Body Image By Signe Darpinian, Wendy Sterling, Shelley Aggarwal

Raising Body Positive Teens: A Parent’s Guide to Diet-Free Living, Exercise and Body Image By Signe Darpinian, Wendy Sterling, Shelley Aggarwal

In a world fraught with diet-culture and weight stigma, many parents worry about their child’s relationship with their body and food. This down-to-earth guide is an invaluable resource allowing parents to take proactive actions in promoting a friendship with food, and preventative actions to minimize the risk factors for the development of eating disorders.

A Kid's Book About Body Image By Rebecca Alexander
A Kid's Book About Body Image By Rebecca Alexander

A Kid’s Book About Body Image By Rebecca Alexander

This book shares positive ways kids can think about their body, their feelings about it, and how to love it the way it is.

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.

How to Raise an Intuitive Eater by Sumner Brooks and Amee Severson
How to Raise an Intuitive Eater by Sumner Brooks and Amee Severson

How to Raise an Intuitive Eater by Sumner Brooks and Amee Severson

A manifesto for parents to help them reject diet culture and raise the next generation to have a healthy relationship with food and their bodies.

Fat Talk by Virginia Sole-Smith
Fat Talk by Virginia Sole-Smith

Fat Talk by Virginia Sole-Smith

Fat Talk is a stirring, deeply researched, and groundbreaking book that will help parents learn to reckon with their own body biases, identify diet culture, and empower their kids to navigate this challenging landscape. Sole-Smith draws on her extensive reporting and interviews with dozens of parents and kids to offer a provocative new approach for thinking about food and bodies, and a way for us all to work toward a more weight-inclusive world.

v_solesmith

Virginia Sole-Smith (she/her) writes about diet culture, anti-fat bias, feminism and health. She is a journalist whose latest book is, Fat Talk: Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture

alliancefored

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

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

Sunny Side Up Nutrition

A Letter to Your Child’s Doctor

The Full Bloom Podcast

For busy parents who want a regular dose of body-positive parenting wisdom, this podcast features conversations with experts from a wide range of fields

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.

Can I Have Another Snack?

Can I Have Another Snack? podcast is an exploration of appetite, identity, and bodies. We talk about how we feed ourselves and our kids (in all senses of the word!), and the ingredients we need to survive in diet culture. We’re sitting with the questions: who or what are we nurturing? And who or what is nurturing us? Hosted by Laura Thomas – anti-diet nutritionist and author of the Can I Have Another Snack? newsletter.

Why Family Therapy Truly Matters in the Treatment of Eating Disorders

Why Family Therapy Truly Matters in the Treatment of Eating Disorders

By the Klarman Center at McLean Hospital

Eating disorders are time-consuming, soul-crushing, and insidious to your suffering loved one…and to you! Watching helplessly as your child/partner/sibling puts themselves at life-threatening risk can result in the ping-ponging between terror, frustration, and fury. By the time someone has gotten into residential care, everyone is worn out. The secrecy and what can feel like a cat and mouse game around eating, food, and other problematic behaviors may have eroded trust. Your loved one may feel taken over by their eating disorder and you may feel like they are lost to you. While the eating part is central to treatment, there is so much more psychological work that is involved in recovery. In addition to individual therapy, family therapy is also crucial.

A dedicated family therapist for weekly meetings who is separate from the individual therapist, or a case manager is critical. The therapy aims at creating a safe space for the discussion of difficult feelings to help the patient and family move towards more open communication and shifting the patterns that have gotten in the way of connections. The family therapist is part of your loved one’s team which includes an individual therapist, psychiatrist, dietician, and other specialized clinicians.

Whether therapy is addressing what has been difficult in the past, the feelings around the eating disorder, or what kind of support would be helpful now, the goal is to ultimately increase openness, foster connection, and help people to move forward together. A hand-out, a set of instructions, and even a family meeting that is focused only on the patient’s needs, will not do this. The family therapy must support a deeper kind of change, healing and finding one another.

In the wonderful words of Maya Angelou:

“We do the best we can with what we know.”

Work that is geared towards growing that knowledge through intensive therapies and having supported behavioral experiences reaps the best outcomes. Patients tend to thrive when they have increased choice in not only feeding themselves, but in moving forward with better self-esteem and towards a life that holds meaning for them.

The involvement of families in this process may differ from family to family. There are, however, certain themes that come up frequently. One of the most common dynamics has to do with the amount of understandable anxiety family members may have been experiencing over time regarding the child’s/friend’s/partner’s bodies. Often there have been years of trying to make sure that your loved one is eating. Sometimes, there are suspicions that something isn’t right- food wrappers that are hidden, long bathroom sessions after meals, weight swings, etc. And, for some families there is a confession, or a trip to the ER, or a concerned call from a friend or provider- and suddenly there are confusing decisions that need to be made about treatment while trying to integrate this new information. There are also those families who have been coached in Family Based Treatment when their kids were younger, and they are less certain of their roles with their young adult children. There may have been tension at the dinner table and difficulty having meals with family friends or extended family; it may have gotten to the point where the family has stopped eating all together or stopped eating the same food at mealtime. Sometimes children who have gone away to college get too sick to finish a semester. Or their struggles became more obvious during the lock-down phase of the pandemic when people were home with each other all the time. For those who have been in and out of treatment, not only may they be experiencing increased hopelessness, but their families may also be profoundly discouraged. One of the fallouts is that families may reach for more and more desperate measures to try to fix things. They may have become the “food police,” monitoring intake, threatening consequences if behaviors are used, locking cabinets, taking doors off of their hinges. Life may have devolved into a “them” vs. “us” battleground. The eating disorder may have become personified and there may be arguments about “who is speaking; the ED or the loved one.”

Residential treatment provides an opportunity to shift these unhappy and often unhelpful patterns. The treatment team takes on the role of monitoring meals, holding the line, making meal plan increases, and watching over medical concerns. The treatment designed so that parents and/or significant others may take a step back from these struggles offers a welcome reprieve and reset. It is crucial that the family/loved ones are supported in “dropping the rope” so that you can support your loved one in the truly difficult undertaking of residential care. Equally crucial is the work with your child/spouse/sibling/friend to help them to experience their ambivalence internally rather than it getting played out with others in what can feel like a battle for control. If the established dynamic had become the anxiety of the family member vs. the eating disorder, there may not be enough space for the person with the eating disorder to understand why they may be holding onto the eating disorder and to understand what internal battles are at play. So, for instance, the child with social anxiety may have come to deal with their loneliness by numbing themselves through weight loss, purging, starvation, or obsessive preoccupation with food/eating/body. It is never as simple or straightforward as recognizing that the eating disorder has the immediate function to mute the painful feelings of self-doubt and social isolation, yet it has really exacerbated poor self-esteem and avoidance. But, in this example, there may be exploration of what may be motoring the eating disorder, what may be alternative ways to respond to painful feelings, and how one might address what leads to those painful feelings that may make a difference. These are the kinds of discussions that may expand understanding and to help people to talk about how they might best be there for each other. There may be feelings about misunderstandings or different parties feeling unseen or unheard. Family therapy provides a space to be curious, to put into words what may be new or difficult, and to repair or deepen fragile connections…and all of this helps drive healing and recovery forward.

The Klarman Center at McLean Hospital expertly offers the approach described above. Our staff is experienced and devoted. We appreciate the complexity of each person engaging in treatment and do not view anyone as “an eating disorder.” Comprehensive psychiatric evaluations are a standard part of our care. Because the Klarman Center is part of a larger, renowned psychiatric hospital, there are resources available that extend far beyond regulating eating.  For example, if indicated, we can order consultations with experts in specialized areas such as substance abuse or OCD, investigate the differential diagnosis and treatment of different depressive disorders, encourage expression through art, explore the role of spirituality in one’s recovery, and have individual sessions aimed at approving body image.  Without minimizing how hard this treatment may be, we believe in recovery, and we will work with you or your loved ones towards a more flexible and more fulfilling life. If you have questions about you or your loved one, please contact us at 617-855-3408 or CRADULKSKI@MGB.ORG

Can You Predict That a Teen Will Develop an Eating Disorder?

Can You Predict That a Teen Will Develop an Eating Disorder?  by Timberline Knolls Staff

Are there factors that may predict a young person is more likely to develop an eating disorder later in life? Researchers think so and they say this information could offer a chance to help teens at the earliest signs of trouble.

Factors That May Predict Eating Disorders in Adolescents

Researchers conducted a longitudinal study of 1,623 adolescents starting when the teens were 14 years old. They then followed up with the participants when they were between the ages of 16-19. Throughout the course of the study, the researchers identified several factors that may indicate a young person is at a higher risk for developing an eating disorder [1]:

  • High levels of neuroticism, behavioral problems, and self-harm were associated with future binge-eating.
  • Being less agreeable, self-harm, behavioral problems, alcohol misuse, and drug abuse were associated with future purging.
  • A high body mass index was associated with future dieting.

The researchers’ findings also suggested that teens who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or a personality disorder were more likely to struggle with the compulsion to restrict their food intake, binge-eat, or purge their food.

“Given the interwoven nature of both childhood psychiatric disorders, namely [ADHD] and adolescent affective disorders with eating disorder symptoms, greater clinical awareness and prompter recognition of psychiatric comorbidities by primary care teams are essential,” the study authors told Medscape Medical News.

The teenage years are undoubtedly a complex time, but these behaviors do not always indicate a young person is troubled by urges they can’t control. It’s critical for their loved ones and healthcare providers to talk to them about how they’re feeling about their bodies and their self-image.

Improving Eating Disorder Prevention Among Teens

The predictors the researchers identified can go a long way in getting teens help sooner. But it’s even more critical to apply these equitably so that every young person has a chance to succeed.

Sadly, healthcare providers often underdiagnose eating disorders in racial minority teens, causing a disparity among those who receive treatment and, ultimately, better outcomes. Researchers evaluated data from interviews with more than 10,000 U.S. adolescents ages 13-18. They found that [2]:

  • Hispanic teens reported the highest rates of bulimia nervosa compared to other racial minority groups
  • Teens of colors reported the highest rates of binge-eating disorder compared to white teens
  • White teens reported the highest rates of anorexia nervosa

While it’s clear that eating disorders affect young people regardless of their race, the researchers found that white teens were nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with an eating disorder as teens of color [2].

“There is a stereotype that [eating disorders] affect only skinny, white, affluent girls, leaving out numerous people who do not fit that stereotype and contributing to disparities in treatment and diagnosis,” Kendrin Sonneville, Sc.D., R.D., the study’s lead author, told Medscape Medical News.

Setting aside myths and stereotypes about eating disorders allows us to apply these predictors more equitably — and that is a major step toward preventing more teens from struggling with these devastating conditions.

References:

[1] Brooks, M. (2020, December). Can eating disorders be predicted? Medscape. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/942403.

[2] Yasgur, B., & Vega, C. (2018). Eating disorders: Are we missing men and minorities? Medscape. https://www.medscape.org/viewarticle/895435.

TikTok and Its Effect On Your Teen

TikTok and Its Effect On Your Teen by Rebecca Manley, MS, CTC, CCTP, MEDA Founder

Dieting is the most common precipitating factor in the development of an eating disorder. In the United States alone, 30 million people struggle with an eating disorder and every 62 minutes someone loses their life due to direct complications of their eating disorder.

As a teen coach, recently I have had increasing numbers of clients talk about the weight loss posts suggested to them on TikTok AND how these posts are harming their mental health and well-being.

41% of TikTok’s 800 million monthly users are between the ages of 16-24. This age group is already at a heightened risk of eating disorders and to encourage them to diet further is can be detrimental to their long-term mental and physical health. By promoting dieting and weight loss, as well as before and after transformations, TiKToK is perpetuating dangerous weight stigma, which is the second most common type of discrimination after gender. Weight stigma can increase body dissatisfaction, a leading risk factor in the development of eating disorders.

Adults think with their prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part, which helps with decision making, good judgment and an awareness of long-term consequences. On the other hand, teens tend to process information with the amygdala, the emotional part of their brain. In teen’s brains, the connections between the emotional part of the brain and the decision-making center are not fully developed until age 25 or so.

TikTok exposes tweens/teens with developing brains to weight loss messages constantly. Currently, children of any age can view these harmful messages and videos. TikTok accounts #dailyweightlosstips has 560 million views and #weightloss transformation (fat phobia fuel) has 28 million.

Many of these viewers are watching the videos, comparing themselves, which may lead them to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as skipping meals, using fad diets, drinking home-made weight loss concoctions, drinking diet teas or excessively exercising. Our teens are not aware of the health risks associated with these actions. Dietary supplements, like teas and powders, are associated with serious health risks and side effects including organ failure, testicular cancer, heart attack, stroke and even death.

What can you do to protect your child?

*Talk with your child about the dangers of dieting and engaging in diet culture.

*In addition, watching weight loss videos and engaging in unhealthy weight loss behaviors leads to body dissatisfaction. The result of these behaviors can result in the development of a deadly eating disorder. They certainly result in lowered self-confidence and increases in anxiety and depression.

*Be a positive role model and talk about your body in an affirming way.

*Focus on health not weight in your house. Don’t push your child to eat and don’t push your child to restrict.

*Promote body positivity and diversity in your home and community.

*Discuss the importance of appropriate activity with your child. Emphasize the importance of moving for pleasure and how it helps our bodies feel better. Do not equate exercise with weight loss.

*Monitor your child’s social media use. Children under the age of 11 (6th grade) should not be engaging in social media.

*Slowly add social media to your child’s technology diet. Add one app at a time. See how they handle one before adding more. In addition to people, consider following a nature, cultural or arts app.

*Friend or follow your child on all social media outlets.

*Sign the TikTok petition at https://bit.ly/3cwTqdS to ensure that children under the age of 18 are unable to post or view videos under all weight loss categories.

If you think your child maybe struggling with an eating disorder or poor body image, MEDA can help. Contact us at info@medainc.org or call us at 888-350-4049.  THE SOONER THE BETTER

How Parents Can Spot an Eating Disorder in Their Child

How Parents Can Spot an Eating Disorder in Their Child

Written by: Caroline Rudnick, MD | Family Medicine Physician, McCallum Place

Early Signs and Symptoms of an Eating Disorder in Your Child or Adolescent​

Our culture and media spend a lot of time thinking, talking, blogging and watching videos about dieting, food choice, weight loss, and exercise. Amid this wave of information, our children can get caught up in information that is misleading, misinformed or simply harmful. Combined with the stresses of childhood, this focus on food, appearance, and exercise can contribute to some children and adolescents developing disordered eating behaviors or fully diagnosable eating disorders.

Sometimes these disorders go unrecognized for a period of time, and a child may lose a substantial amount of weight or suffer other medical effects. Because early detection of an eating disorder improves the chances of recovery it is important for parents to know the signs and symptoms of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and other disordered eating behaviors.

Signs and Symptoms of an Eating Disorder in Your Child or Adolescent

We often see kids skipping meals, wanting to prepare their own meals, eating alone, avoiding whole groups of foods, counting calories, grams of fats or carbohydrates, or being very picky about food. Sometimes kids will be overly concerned about the nutritional value of food and spend a lot of time reading, thinking and researching food, calories, and diet choices.

Other Signs that Should be Noticed by Attentive Parents

Children spending a lot of time in the bathroom after meals may be an indication that purging is occurring. Binge eating is often discovered when food is suddenly missing from the household supply. Children or teens who are obsessively exercising or secretively exercising are likely struggling with body image distress and concern about weight, size, and shape. Of course, noticing weight loss or sudden weight change is important as these can indicate an eating disorder or another medical issue which would merit the attention of a physician.

Finally, a child’s appearance can offer clues to health concerns or disordered eating behaviors. Kids with eating disorders will often appear pale and withdrawn. Their clothes may no longer fit or they may begin wearing baggy clothes or out-of-season winter clothes to hide their appearance.

Seek Professional Help for Your Child or Teen

If you notice any of these things in your child, please seek medical attention for the possibility of an eating disorder or another medical problem. Your first appointment should be with a medical professional who is confident and educated on the symptoms of an eating disorder. Your doctor may also recommend working with a licensed therapist or a registered dietitian. To find resources in your area or to have a free assessment completed by an eating disorder professional contact McCallum Place at (314) 957-5042.

This blog was originally published at https://www.mccallumplace.com/about/blog/parents-can-spot-eating-disorder-child/ on December 10, 2018 and is republished here with permission.

Supporting Your Adolescent with the Back to School Transition

Written by Clementine Portland Clinical Director Zanita Zody, PhD, LMFT 

Zanita guides her team with warmth and compassion as they provide comprehensive care to the adolescents who entrust their treatment in them. In this week’s blog post, Zanita shares tips on how to support your adolescent as they get ready to make the transition back to school.

Transitions represent points of vulnerability. Imagine breaking down a cardboard box. It is along the points of transition that one focuses. Similarly, life transitions increase vulnerability to a variety of mental health concerns. In fact, most eating disorders develop during transitions. Because your children are still learning to manage the stress and emotions that come with transitions such as returning to school, they are at an increased risk of returning to familiar behaviors.

There are several things you can do to help support success through this transition:

  1. Explore their excitement and this may be met with resistance, especially if there is a history of avoidance. It can be difficult to determine if this is in service of the healthy self (HS) or the eating disorder (ED). Asking them to share the thoughts and feelings of both can help clarify internal conflicts and encourages them to open up by honoring the ED and any fears or grief they may have about letting it go.
  2. Consider the dialectic,which acknowledges two conflicting truths simultaneously (e.g., excited and afraid). Rather than glossing over this by “staying positive,” honor your child’s experience while also emphasizing motivation and skills to support success.
  3. Create a plan for managing potential challenges.
    1. How does wellness class align with their current exercise plan?
    2. Are they hoping to return to competitive sports?
    3. Any concerns about changing in front of peers in the locker room?
    4. Does health class cover nutrition and weight?
    5. Do they feel “left out” after being away?
    6. Do their peers eat lunch? Is this a time they were likely to use behaviors?
    7. How will snacks fit into their schedule?
    8. Do they feel pressure to “catch up” or perform academically?
  4. Help them identify coping skills that encourage mindfulness, distress tolerance, affect regulation, and interpersonal effectiveness. These skills are likely challenging for your child and arguably necessary for creating a sense of balance and well-being as they return to school.
  5. Discuss what they may want to share with peers and teachers and role play those conversations.
  6. Consider a 504 plan, which addresses individual needs and can offer critical supports. If potential stigma is a concern, weigh this against the benefits of additional support, recognizing too that these plans can be modified at any point.

While returning to school can be frightening, with your support and open communication the return to “normalcy” can help facilitate a renewed sense of meaning and purpose, moving your child further towards recovery.

For more information about Clementine adolescent treatment programs, please call 855.900.2221, subscribe to our blog, and connect with us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

This blog was originally published at http://clementineprograms.com/supporting-your-adolescent-with-the-back-to-school-transition/ on August 21, 2018 and republished here with permission. 

 

Recommendations for Parents of an Adolescent Discharging from Residential Eating Disorder Treatment

Written by Simone Arent of Walden Behavioral Care 

One of the biggest obstacles of eating disorder recovery may come after being discharged from a residential program. Helping your adolescent integrate back into their day to day routine can be challenging for everyone. Remember, recovery is not linear. There may be ups and downs as your family navigates returning to home, school, extracurricular activities, and most likely embarking on treatment in lower levels of care. Here are a few tips to help support this transition.

1.) Cultivate Trust and Open Communication

At the very beginning of the recovery process, trust may need repair. In order to restore trust, open and honest communication is encouraged. Creating transparent and nonjudgmental dialogue between family members can help to decrease shame and lend itself to improved understanding of one another–and the eating disorder. Individuals often find residential treatment to be a place that feels safe to discuss their feelings and thoughts related to their eating disorder. A goal would be to continue this progress at home following discharge. I often tell parents that cultivating an environment where candid discussion about the eating disorder feels comfortable, can help take the power away from the eating disorder, and increase confidence and motivation for recovery.

2.) Identify Triggers

Triggers can be defined as events that create some type of uncomfortable emotion for an individual. Some common emotions that are often reported in those living with eating disorders are shame, guilt, anxiety, sadness and stress among others. In order to best prepare for recovery success outside of treatment, it is crucial to have some understanding about what the triggers are for the individual and for the family. The goal then would be to create a game plan of how–as a family–you can cope in a safe and contained way when those uncomfortable emotions arise. Your treatment team can be great collaborators in helping you to identify these triggers and in brainstorming some helpful coping skills that might be appropriate to use in those difficult moments.

3.) Incorporate Supervision to Support Recovery

Following discharge, one challenge many families face is the increased need for supervision of the adolescent. Going from an environment with 24-hour supervision back home, can feel shocking to many adolescents who may have been in treatment for an extended period of time. After residential care, supervision of all meals and snacks is highly recommended. This added necessary precaution might be difficult with all of the other commitments you might have, so sometimes I suggest that parents/caregivers enlist the help of trusted friends and family for extra support. Oftentimes, schools are more than willing to provide space for the adolescent to be monitored for snack and lunch. In the beginning, supervision can be a lot to balance. Remember that the end goal is to eventually decrease supervision as trust is repaired and the eating disorder has less control.

4.) Ask for Help!

Supporting and caring for someone with an eating disorder can challenge a person or family system in ways you weren’t expecting. The road to recovery can also be long. We want to avoid burnout and running on empty so it will be important for caregivers to have space to talk about their experience and discuss strategies for managing their own emotions. These spaces can support caregivers in feeling and processing things as they arise. We often recommend that parents seek their own therapeutic support through avenues such as parent support groups in addition to family or individual therapy. In order to support your adolescent effectively, taking care of yourself is of utmost importance. Remember you are not alone, and it is okay to ask for help

To learn more about residential treatment at Walden Behavioral Care, please visit https://www.waldeneatingdisorders.com/residential/.

Simone Arent is an adolescent clinical intern at Residential treatment, providing individual, group, and family therapy to adolescents. Simone received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Western New England University, and is currently in pursuit of her Doctorate degree in Clinical Psychology at William James College. Simone works to meet each individual where they are at by using a strength-based approach, and incorporating dialectical and cognitive behavior therapies. In Simone’s free time, she enjoys being outdoors and solving Rubik’s Cubes.

This blog was originally published at https://www.waldeneatingdisorders.com/4-recommendations-for-parents-of-an-adolescent-discharging-from-residential-eating-disorder-treatment/ in March 2018 and is republished here with permission.