How to Support a Child with an Eating Disorder

Guest post contributed by Dixie Somers

Anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating are the most common types of eating disorders. If your child has an obsession with food, overeats, eats very little, vomits after eating and/or eats in secret, he or she may have an eating disorder. There are several things you can do to help your child.

Be Patient

In most cases, it takes years to overcome an eating disorder. Your child may go through periods in which he or she appears to be fine, and then suddenly exhibits a complete change in weight or eating behaviors. Don’t give up. Let your child know that he or she can come to you for a sympathetic ear.

Don’t Try to Forcefully Change Eating Habits

One common misconception about eating disorders is that you can overcome one just by forcing yourself to eat more or eat less. This is not true. Forcing your child to eat could cause him or her to feel shame or resentment. Shaming a person of food could also cause emotional damage.

Seek Professional Help

Rather than trying to cope with the eating disorder among your family, you should seek professional help from a center like Reasons Eating Disorder Center. Typically, treatment for eating disorders involves psychological counseling or psychotherapy. Talk to your child about therapy, and help your child understand that therapy is the best method of combating the disorder.

Promote Healthy Habits

Do not promote unrealistic media portrayals of super-thin bodies. Let your child know that being thin does not have to mean being unhealthy. Find out what your child is good at and encourage the child to pursue it. Finding a hobby and something to excel at will hopefully build self-esteem.

Encourage your child to keep a journal to record his or her feelings and behaviors. This will help the child understand what types of behaviors trigger negative thoughts about food. Once the child understands the root of the problem, he or she is headed toward a better understanding of what types of behaviors to avoid.

Speak to Your Child One-On-One

People with eating disorders may be in denial that they have a problem. Reprimanding them or confronting them in front of others might make them feel attacked or embarrassed. Instead, approach them calmly, and do it one-on-one. Try not to sound aggressive or judgmental.

Eating disorders are sometimes life-threatening, especially in severe cases. However, these disorders are treatable, and with your help, your child can overcome an eating disorder.

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