National Eating Disorders Association
Blog
Parents & Caregivers

Thank you to Aloria Health for sponsoring this blog post.

Being the parent of a child with a mental health diagnosis can be exhausting. Deciding to send your child away from their norm is not only a hard choice but sometimes the choice between life and loss. At Aloria Health, we invite conversations with our client’s families and address the complexities of each client's situation, including their family dynamics. We have invited families to share their stories to help others who are facing similar challenges.  

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Editor’s note: Family Based Treatment (FBT) is one of many effective, evidence-based treatments for eating disorders. Treatment is not a one-size-fits-all approach; it should be tailored to the individual and will vary according to both the severities of the disorder and the patient’s particular problems, needs, and strengths. Click here to learn more about the various levels of care and methodologies.

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I feel extremely lucky to have a mother that is also my best friend. She has and always will be a source of comfort for me. When I was in elementary school and would come home from ballet class in tears because the teacher made me feel badly about my body my mom would hug me, hold me, and make sure that I felt loved and appreciated for exactly the way that I was. As I got older, coming home from school or ballet in tears because of body-shaming comments became a more regular occurrence, and every time my mom was there for me.

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I can vividly recall my first day at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital clinic. I had already been sick for 3 years, in which time I had seen more treatment providers than I can count on two hands. I was beginning to lose hope that I would ever get better. My EKG showed my heart beating at a measly pace, just 1 beat above the cardiac hospitalization threshold.

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Plastic surgery is not a game - unless you’re a young child with access to a smartphone. Hundreds of cosmetic surgery apps featuring child-friendly, animated characters are available for download via Google, Apple, and Amazon. Using medical tools like scalpels and syringes, children can slice apart the bodies of cartoon princesses and mermaids until they are “perfect.”

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NEDA’s first Regional Conference will take place Saturday, May 12 at Drexel University. #NEDACon is designed to bring together individuals and loved ones who are experiencing eating disorders or wanting to learn more about eating and body image issues.

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Siblings are our longest relationships. Often, a sibling is our first best friend. We love them deeply, hate them at moments and know both their strengths and weaknesses.

When a sibling has an eating disorder, there is an impact, but what is it exactly? 

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Two and a half years ago, I arrived in sunny San Diego, not knowing a single soul in the area and certainly not knowing what I would experience over the next few days. 

I was in town for the annual NEDA Conference, the first one I had ever attended. I remember feeling exceedingly nervous -- would I find people to talk to? Would I learn anything? I had no basis as to what I would experience. Luckily, I had an amazing time, and consider the conference one of the most valuable experiences of my personal and professional life to date. 

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The value of relationships cannot be understated. The relationship the patient has with their bodies and their health care providers are two of the most crucial. So many have felt isolated and ashamed and being able to step into a truly "judgment-free zone" with a provider can be life changing. When a patient leaves the office with an inclusive, engaging care plan, there is a visible lightness about them! With that lightness comes long-term positive changes in health. 

Here are four ways that you, as a provider, can create a safe space for patients: 

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Everyone has something good inside. Some hide it, some neglect it, but it is there. -Mother Teresa

I still think "self confidence" is one of the most important life skills. Self confidence means that I know my worth and innate goodness even if I've disappointed myself or others. And even if genetics, culture, personal experiences, and environment test me, I'll focus on being good to my self because it matters.   

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