Families and Eating Disorders

April 10, 2017 by Terri Mozingo, RD
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Function of Families in the Recovery Process

Eating disordered behavior reflects a dysfunctional relationship with the self. Family members cannot “fix” the eating disordered individual. It is a unique combination of heredity, environment, culture and conditioning that cause eating disorders to develop…..It is not anyone’s “fault”; it is important to remember that everyone has the same goal of a healthy and happy life for the individual with an eating disorder…be patient and non-judgmental, listen, and remember that it is their responsibility to do the recovery work.

Parents and Eating Disorders

Parents possess amazing imaginations. They picture the day when their daughter/son will graduate from college, marry; perhaps even have children of her own. Here’s what they never imagine: a daughter/son with an eating disorder. Unfortunately, millions of children, adolescents and adult women suffer from anorexia and bulimia This means even greater numbers of parents are dealing with something they never anticipated, and worse, cannot possibly understand.

The most frequently asked question is “why?” Regrettably, there isn’t an easy answer. The best course of action for parents dealing with an eating disorder is to get help. A wise first step is to take the daughter to a physician, simply to ascertain the extent of the problem. If she/he has a full-blown eating disorder, then it is time to seek professional counseling for her, and very possibly, separate counseling for the parents and other children. Three important points to keep in mind: first, eating disorders rarely resolve on their own; second, if one daughter has an eating disorder, the entire family is impacted; and third, parents must not blame themselves the blame game accomplishes nothing.

Remember…Eating disorders are devastating to the individual and highly destructive to the family. You did not cause this; therefore, you cannot fix this on your own.  Please get help.

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