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Shelley answers your questions...
Question: Is my child’s eating disorder my fault?
"No. An eating disorder is not anyone’s fault. It’s important to remember that an eating disorder is a coping mechanism for your child to help create some control because s/he is feeling out of control. Do you need to be involved in your child’s recovery? Yes. Research increasingly points to family involvement in a child’s recovery as the single best predictor of a positive outcome. " Read More
"Whether it is or not, you still don’t want to ignore the signs that are there." Read More
Question: When should I be worried?
"If your child’s eating habits change in a way that seems significant to you. For instance, s/he may begin to restrict food intake or change her diet entirely, may start skipping meals, or may begin to take meal replacement ‘shakes’ and skip meals. Or you may notice s/he now takes only half the portion s/he used to, for no good reason that you can see. Or you notice your child now cuts food up in small pieces and eats very slowly. These are just some examples." Read More
Question: Can you recover from an Eating Disorder?
"Yes. What works? There is no one answer to this because as we always say, if there was something that worked, we’d all be doing it and everyone would recover quickly. There can be many reasons for, and many individual parts to, an eating disorder. Because of this, recovery is an intricate process, and will have as much to do with your child’s specific needs as it will with the therapeutic processes that we have had success with. " Read More
"The spectrum ranges from healthy eating on one end, where food isn’t given a whole lot of focus, except as something that is both pleasurable and functional to good health. Disordered eating sits in the centre of the spectrum, characterized by preoccupation with weight and shape, calorie restriction, use of weight-loss supplements, Yo-yo dieting (cycles of losing and then gaining weight), and finally, with Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder at the other end of the spectrum. Health can be very compromised with engagement in disordered eating. " Read More
Question: Why won’t s/he just eat?
"Eating disorders are not just about food; they are far more complicated. This can be a difficult concept to grasp because it contradicts what appears to be the only problem: “If only you’d just eat something!” An eating disorder is really about gaining some kind of control in a world that, sometimes for reasons that won’t seem apparent, feels very out of control. The eating disorder becomes a coping mechanism to take some control back. Controlling the food you eat and what you will and will not take into your body can feel very powerful." Read More
Question: As a parent, how involved should I be?
"Eating disorders are a family problem, and there is growing evidence to suggest that family involvement is crucial to recovery – for everyone. " Read More
"It depends. Sometimes a change in diet, even to what seem to be healthy foods, can be an indicator of disordered eating, but it isn’t always. For instance, a child who suddenly declares s/he is Vegan could just be using that as an excuse to explain away what is really happening, which may be that she is engaging in unhealthy calorie restriction. With a closer look, you may notice that your child is restricting the healthy foods she eats and really not getting the well-rounded nutrients s/he needs for healthy body growth and maintenance." Read More
"It can be very difficult for families when a child goes through treatment and then re-engages in the eating disorder. This is a difficult disease and progress can be much slower than anyone, including the individual with the eating disorder, wants it to be. What it takes is continual patience, understanding and empathy, along with a good therapeutic approach that works for your child and your family. " Read More
"Weight fluctuation is a healthy part of growing up. A teenager needs more calories during times of rapid growth (i.e. puberty). If your child eats when hungry and stops when satisfied, then s/he will learn to eat according to internal hunger and fullness cues. It is important to know that children gain weight in advance of the rapid growth period that occurs during puberty, and that this weight gain is quite normal. " Read More