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Joanna answers your questions...
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
"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
"Excellent question! Here are some tips I like to give parents and kids to use in order to create a more positive body image environment at home: When talking about your own body – be kind, don’t speak negatively about it. Remember, you are a role model. Show your child that when you want to make … Read More" Read More
Question: Do you have any suggestions to deal with the guilt my eating disorder makes me feel for having tried a ‘higher calorie’ meal that I’m not used to?
"First of all, congratulations on trying new foods! In early recovery, it’s normal to feel guilty when challenging the “eating disorder rules”. I once had a client describe this feeling as positive guilt — a sign that they were making progress, facing their fears, and exploring uncharted territory. Try writing down those guilty feelings. Talk to someone … Read More" 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
"Whether it is or not, you still don’t want to ignore the signs that are there." 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: 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: 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