It is totally possible to overcome an Eating Disorder and fully recover, and it all starts with taking the first step and asking for help. Early intervention is key – it can dramatically reduce the disorder’s severity and duration. So, take action right away if your loved one shows any signs of an Eating Disorder. Don’t wait for their situation to worsen before getting the support they need.

You can be confident that their recovery is possible.

Eating Disorder recovery is unique to each individual. Two people with the same Eating Disorder may respond differently to treatment.

There are different evidence-based treatments for Eating Disorders. These aren’t normally one-size-fits-all. Recovery usually requires a combination of treatments.

Multidisciplinary treatments include self-help, various complementary or allied therapies, family therapy, general medicine, dietetics, nutrition, and psychiatry.

Below, we outline the variety of treatments available for managing and overcoming Eating Disorders.

  1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
    CBT is like a toolbox that gives children skills to manage their thoughts and behaviours. It helps them recognise how their thoughts influence their feelings and actions related to food, body image, and self-esteem.
  2. Family-Based Treatment (FBT)
    In FBT, parents and caregivers become key members of the recovery team. With our guidance, you’ll learn how to help your child eat healthily and safely at home, which is where most recovery happens.
  3. Nutritional Counselling
    Think of this as food education. Our dietitians teach your child about healthy eating patterns, guiding them towards making nutritious choices and developing a balanced relationship with food.
  4. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)
    DBT equips children with skills to cope with stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships. It’s like a roadmap helping them navigate feelings and behaviours related to their disorder.
  5. Medication
    Sometimes, medicine can help, especially if your child is dealing with Anxiety or Depression alongside their Eating Disorder.

    (Our highly experienced team will explain all the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision.)

Our commitment at BodyMatters is to provide you and your loved one with a personalised treatment plan, designed to meet their unique needs.

Treatment for an Eating Disorder often focuses on making behavioural changes to improve health and wellbeing first, before focusing on the underlying causes of the Eating Disorder. It can take years to develop insight and understanding into why you or your loved one has developed an Eating Disorder. Sometimes, even in recovery, individuals do not fully understand why they developed an Eating Disorder.

Source: InsideOut Institute

How Can I Discuss Eating Disorders with My Child?

A compassionate mother embracing her daughter as she opens up about her struggle with an eating disorder, symbolizing support, understanding, and the healing power of familial love.

Every parent wants their child to be happy and healthy. So, when the signs of an Eating Disorder start to show up it can be frightening. Moreover, Eating Disorders often involve denial. This could cause discussing concerns with a child difficult. Empathy, honest information regarding Eating Disorders, and your unfailing support are essential to this delicate topic.

Here are some tips for talking to your child about Eating Disorders.

  • Educate Yourself First. Before you talk with your child about a mental health condition, it’s important to understand the disorder yourself. This will help you avoid misconceptions and provide factual information
  • Choose an Appropriate Time and Place. Make sure that you have enough time to talk, and find a quiet spot where there aren’t any distractions.
  • Express Concern, Not Blame. To start the conversation, express your love and concern for your child. Try not to blame them; let them know that you’ve noticed changes in their behaviour and are worried about their health.
  • Use “I” Statements. Instead of saying “You are…”, say “I’ve noticed that…”. This can help to prevent your child from feeling accused or defensive.
  • Listen and Be Open. Your child might feel scared, embarrassed, or defensive. Encourage them to share their feelings and thoughts without interrupting them.
  • Avoid Focusing on Food and Weight. It might be tempting to discuss specific eating habits or weight issues, but it’s best to focus on health and feelings. Eating Disorders are more about emotions and control than they are about food.
  • Avoid Offering Simple Solutions. Saying things like “Just eat more” or “Just stop” is unlikely to be helpful. Instead, acknowledge that Eating Disorders are complex and can be difficult for your child.
  • Suggest Professional Help. Emphasise that it’s okay to seek help and that many people do. Offer to support them in finding and accessing professional help, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or a nutritionist specialising in Eating Disorders.

What are the Common Early Signs of Developing an Eating Disorder in Your Child?

  1. Your child is having persistent worries or complaints about being fat or the need to lose weight.
  2. Your child’s diet patterns and behaviour in relation with food changes.
  3. Your child is starting to engage in excessive exercise.
  4. Your child is hiding food or eating secretly.
  5. Your child gains or loses weight rapidly.
  6. Your child starts to skip family meal gatherings.
  7. Your child, in her pre-teen and teen stages of development, may experience irregular menstrual cycles. For both male and female teens, they may have puberty issues.

What are the Different Types of Eating Disorders?

Anorexia Nervosa

Individuals with Anorexia typically eat very little, leading to extremely low body weight. They may think about food or calories a great deal because of an intense fear of weight gain. They consider themselves to be fat, even when they are very thin.

Binge Eating Disorder

Individuals with Binge Eating Disorder often eat faster than other people. They may eat in secret so others won’t see how much food they consume. They eat more food than they need and feel uncomfortable after eating. They may gain a lot of weight.

Bulimia Nervosa

Individuals with bulimia nervosa regularly engage in binge eating, followed by purging or using laxatives to control their weight.

Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID Eating Disorder)

For individuals with ARFID, food is not interesting or enjoyable; they tend to avoid eating because of concerns about smell, taste, or texture. They don’t have Anorexia, Bulimia, or another medical problem that would explain their eating behaviours.

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