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Remember that this conversation likely feels very threatening to someone with an eating disorder. Ask if the person has reasons for wanting to change. Even if your loved one lacks the desire to change for themselves, they may want to change for other reasons: to please someone they love, to return to school or work, for example.

All that really matters is that they are willing to seek help. Be patient and supportive. The important thing is opening up the lines of communication. If they are willing to talk, listen without judgment, no matter how out of touch they may sound.

Helping Someone with an Eating Disorder -

Avoid ultimatums. The decision to change must come from them. Ultimatums merely add pressure and promote more secrecy and denial. Avoid commenting on appearance or weight.

Your Child

People with eating disorders are already overly focused on their bodies. Instead, steer the conversation to their feelings. Why are they afraid of being fat? Avoid shaming and blaming. Avoid giving simple solutions. Aside from offering support, the most important thing you can do for a person with an eating disorder is to encourage treatment. The longer an eating disorder remains undiagnosed and untreated, the harder it is on the body and the more difficult it is to overcome, so urge your loved one to see a doctor right away.

Boys Get Anorexia Too: Coping With Male Eating Disorders In The Family

The doctor can also determine whether there are any co-existing conditions that require treatment, such as depression , substance abuse, or an anxiety disorder. If your friend or family member is hesitant to see a doctor, ask them to get a physical just to put your worries to rest. It may help if you offer to make the appointment or go along on the first visit. The right treatment approach for each person depends on their specific symptoms, issues, and strengths, as well as the severity of the disorder. To be most effective, treatment for an eating disorder must address both the physical and psychological aspects of the problem.

A team approach is often best. Those who may be involved in treatment include medical doctors, mental health professionals, and nutritionists. The participation and support of family members also makes a big difference in the success of eating disorder treatment. Medical treatment. The first priority is to address and stabilize any serious health issues. Hospitalization or residential treatment may be necessary if your loved one is dangerously malnourished, suffering from medical complications, severely depressed or suicidal, or resistant to treatment.

Outpatient treatment is an option when the patient is not in immediate medical danger. Nutritional counseling. Dietitians or nutritionists can help your loved one design balanced meal plans, set dietary goals, and reach or maintain a healthy weight. Counseling may also involve education about proper nutrition. Therapy plays a crucial role in eating disorder treatment. Its goals are to identify the negative thoughts and feelings that are behind the disordered eating behaviors, and to replace them with healthier and less distorted attitudes.

Another important goal is to teach the person how to deal with difficult emotions, relationship problems, and stress in a productive, rather than a self-destructive way. Set a positive example. You have more influence than you think. Instead of dieting, eat nutritious, balanced meals.

Be mindful about how you talk about your body and your eating. Instead, focus on the qualities on the inside that really make a person attractive. Make mealtimes fun. Try to eat together as a family as often as possible.

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Meals are also a good opportunity to show your child that food is something to be enjoyed rather than feared. Avoid power struggles over food. Attempts to force your child to eat will only cause conflict and bad feelings and likely lead to more secrecy and lying. Encourage eating with natural consequences. Do whatever you can to promote self-esteem. Give boys and girls the same opportunities and encouragement.

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A well-rounded sense of self and solid self-esteem are perhaps the best antidotes to disordered eating. Parents often feel they must take on responsibility for the eating disorder, which is something they truly have no control over. Recovering from an eating disorder takes time.

Provide hope and encouragement, praise each small step forward, and stay positive through struggles and setbacks. Learn about eating disorders. Listen without judgment. Resist the urge to advise or criticize. Be mindful of triggers. Avoid discussions about food, weight, eating or making negative statements about your own body. It can help set an example of a healthy relationship with food.

Take care of yourself. Make sure you have your own support, so you can provide it in turn. Harvard Health Books. Children with anorexia think they are overweight when they seem very underweight to other people. Children might obsess about their food intake and with how to control their weight.

They might exercise intensively or binge and then purge. Anorexia can cause significant damage to physical health and growth, so it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible for a child. Other less common eating disorders among children include bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Early detection and prevention are key to treating eating disorders in young children. The signs are often subtle, as your child does not have to be focused on body image or weight to have an eating disorder.

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Your child also does not have to meet the criteria for a disorder to benefit from intervention. Early warning signs can include: 5.

Also by Jenny Langley

There are many components of treating eating disorders among young children. Children may also receive behavioral interventions to help expose them to foods they avoid and to help them regain a healthy relationship with eating. So even if you are uncertain whether there may be a problem, it never hurts to reach out to professionals. Whom can you talk to today to get help for your child? Photo: Unsplash, Frank Mcker.