Posts Tagged “Family”
5 Languages of Eating Disorder Support
The support of family and friends is key to the process of eating disorder recovery. It is an antidote to the isolation and secrecy of the illness, as well as a powerful, necessary reminder to our loved ones that they aren’t alone in their pain and struggle.
But it can be hard to know just how to support someone affected by eating disorders. These are complicated, confusing conditions that aren’t “fixed” with simple logic. “Just eat,” “just eat less,” or “just stop doing that” are unhelpful suggestions, as are guilt trips and ultimatums.
What else is there to say or do? Considering your loved one’s love language is a place to start.
Holiday Conversation Topics That Aren’t Food, Diets, or Weight
Navigating holiday conversations can be challenging in even the best of years. In a year of a pandemic that has dominated our lives and interactions with others, it may feel even more so.
What is there to talk about with family, friends, and acquaintances this year? How can we meaningfully engage in yet another video call, or make new conversation among our small, in-house pods?
When the goal is connection—and it often is, especially for those struggling with the isolation of an eating disorder—the topics of conversation ought to be thoughtful and appropriate.
How Do Eating Disorders Affect Relationships?
Eating disorders are fierce, all-consuming illnesses. They develop gradually and insidiously, but once formed, impact more than a person’s relationship with food. They damage social relationships as well, affecting far more than the person experiencing the illness firsthand. Parents, siblings, friends, and partners are also subject to the toll of an eating disorder, their relationships with their loved one often strained in its presence.
Given the secrecy and isolation common to these illnesses, eating disorders are particularly at odds with healthy intimate relationships. These relationships require vulnerability, honesty, and open communication, all qualities that are incompatible with an active eating disorder. The more consumed by disordered behaviors a person is, the more physically and emotionally distant from their partner they often are in turn. In situations where this distance or other relationship distress precipitated the development of the illness, the eating disorder only exacerbates it.
Family-Based Treatment via Telehealth
Family-Based Treatment (FBT), also known as the Maudsley method or Maudsley approach, is widely considered the treatment of choice for adolescents with eating disorders. Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of FBT, and indeed, at The Emily Program, we have found that adolescent clients who participate in FBT have the best outcomes of any treatment modality we utilize for this age group.
FBT is based on the understanding that families know their children better than anyone else and is anchored by the idea that parents are often fully capable of feeding their children. In the FBT model, parents have control of their child’s weight restoration and are actively involved in their child’s recovery process. The role of the professional is to support the family as they work toward restoring their child’s health.
How do I Provide Comfort for my Child in Treatment?
Starting eating disorder treatment can be scary for the individual affected—but it can also be a stressful time for parents. When your child experiences a negative food/body relationship, you may struggle to understand why. Their behaviors may seem perplexing and leave you feeling frustrated, afraid, and sad. The Emily Program understands that it’s difficult to watch someone you love struggle with an eating disorder. It’s also difficult to know how to comfort them.
What Will Happen When My Child Starts Treatment?
Eating disorder treatment is a new experience, and like all new things, it can be scary at first. Prior to starting treatment, your child’s eating disorder behaviors may increase due to the stress and fear of starting treatment and confronting the eating disorder. Your child may experience dread, anger, anxiety, or depression. They may also experience relief upon knowing that they are on the road to recovery. All of these feelings are normal.
For parents, it’s important to be aware and present in the days or weeks before treatment. Make sure to check in with your child about how they are feeling or if they could use any specific support. Reassure them that treatment is a good idea because it will help them to live their best life. Be vocal about your support and be present when they share with you.
What Contributes to the Development of an Eating Disorder?
Eating disorders are complex and serious illnesses that can cause serious harm to the individual afflicted. Characterized by a disturbance in an individual’s self-perception and food behaviors, eating disorders are biologically-based brain illnesses that are affected by environmental, cultural, and psychological factors. A key aspect of eating disorders is their complexity and the questions surrounding them—what caused my eating disorder? Will I get better? Do other people experience this?
There are certain environmental factors that may contribute to the development of an eating disorder including diet culture, the media, and peer judgment. Diet culture is a series of beliefs that idolize thinness and equate it to health and wellbeing. Diet culture manifests in less obvious ways, too, and can be seen in the way that menus portray “healthy” options as superior or how the typical chair size is made for someone thin. These diet culture consequences can plant the idea, at a young age, that thinner is “normal” and something to strive for, which can lead to disordered eating later in life.
The media is largely problematic in its portrayal of the idea that thin is superior. From the majority of celebrities and actors being thin to weight-centric TV shows like “Biggest Loser,” it’s no surprise that society gets the message that skinny is better. This media messaging infiltrates daily lives. There’s billboards of new diets, commercials promoting gym memberships to get you in beach body shape, and reality TV featuring only the thinnest of stars. When faced with this negative messaging daily, individuals can feel intense pressure to “fit in,” leading to dieting, appearance dissatisfaction, and eating disorders.