Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

Supporting a Child with an Eating Disorder in Uncertain Times

A mother and daughter sitting on a couch

Uncertainty is still all around us.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to raise questions over our finances, jobs, schools, and, of course, our health and the health of those we love. So much remains unknown.

During this long coronavirus blur, eating disorders have not gone away. Far from it. We may have shut down parts of our lives, but eating disorders have not loosened their grip. For some, the pandemic has only exacerbated issues with food and body. For others, it has introduced them, and for others still, it has complicated the already tough, circuitous process of recovering from an eating disorder.

Navigating a child’s eating disorder as a parent can be painful, confusing, and frustrating in the best of times. It’s demanding and it’s stressful. And in a trying year of tremendous turmoil, loss, and unpredictability? It may feel impossible. How can you support your child when racked with fear and anxiety yourself? How do you encourage healing in a world seemingly still so sick? How do you make any decisions or plans when the future is so unknown?

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How do I Provide Comfort for my Child in Treatment?

Mother and daughter

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.

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Navigating Campus with an Eating Disorder

School campus

College can be a particularity triggering time when you’re living with an eating disorder, and navigating school with the illness can be incredibly challenging. With school comes freedom, new experiences, homework, stress, group meals, and more. All of these can cause additional strain on recovery, which is why it’s important to be mindful of your recovery. Despite these challenges, there are certain things you can do to prevent relapse and encourage recovery.

How to Successfully Navigate Campus in Recovery

Start Treatment

Living with an untreated eating disorder is extremely dangerous and stressful. Unfortunately, if left untreated, the illnesses often progress over time. Due to their worsening nature, it’s essential to get eating disorder treatment as soon as possible. We know that starting treatment, especially in the midst of school, is extremely challenging. However, some eating disorder treatment centers are able to provide a treatment plan to fit into your life. If you are concerned about the time commitment, know that treatment centers like The Emily Program can work with your schedule to ensure you get the care you deserve. By starting treatment, you can ensure a successful school year where you can focus on school instead of food, body, or image. 

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Living the College Life: Tips for Maintaining Healthy Eating Habits

Students taking notes

Whether you have struggled with an eating disorder or not, going away to school can present challenges in maintaining a healthy, balanced eating pattern. Below are some tips to consider as you settle into the collegiate lifestyle.

Maintain a consistent eating pattern

We know from both research and clinical experience that maintaining a consistent 3-meals-plus-snacks pattern decreases eating disorder tendencies (1). It also ensures that your body is receiving the energy and nutrition needed to support the life of a busy college student. Remember, you are feeding both your brain and your body.

Mind your macros

College cafeterias can open up almost endless food choices. Remember what your meal plan emphasized, balance your meal with foods that provide protein, fats and carbohydrates. Avoid falling into diet fads that restrict one food group or another. A balanced meal provides balanced energy and satisfaction, which prevents feeling overly full or being hungry again quickly.

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Can how we were Raised Contribute to Developing an Eating Disorder?

Parents holding toddler's hand

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?

Environmental Factors

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.

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The How-To Guide for Starting your Child in Eating Disorder Treatment

Mom and daughter on cliff

When your child struggles with an eating disorder, it can be a time of fear, frustration, heartache, and confusion. From navigating treatment options to learning how to support your child’s recovery, it can be a complex and challenging time. The Emily Program knows this. Since 1993, we have worked with families and friends to help them support loved ones suffering from eating disorders. 

What is Eating Disorder Treatment?

Eating disorder treatment is specialized care that addresses all facets underlying an individual’s eating disorder along with their current behaviors. Eating disorders are treated most effectively at a specialty treatment center that provides multidisciplinary support. At The Emily Program, intensive care involves a medical professional, therapist, and dietitian. These professionals comprise an individual’s eating disorder treatment team, ensuring that their eating disorder is holistically addressed and that recovery begins with a solid foundation. At The Emily Program, treatment teams provide multidisciplinary, integrative support for individuals of all identities struggling with food and body issues. Treatment may look different for every client and can vary based on the level of care recommended for the individual.

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