National Eating Disorders Association

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dealing with weight gain

my 33 yr old daughter has relapsed and seriously underweight. she says the right things to people but deep down does not want to get better. on "weigh days* she,s terrified she may have put on a gram. A meltdown happens if she has! has anyone any advice on how to help her mentally to accept it or maybe a distraction to help?

Anxiety over Weight Gain.

Hey D-S,

When it comes to EDs, people really can get anxious at the thought of gaining, no matter what age they are. After having an ED for a while, and spending all that time with their minds making the association between eating and exerting self-control, it's not unusual that the eating/control association becomes etched deeply into their brains in ways that are soon beyond their control. To the point where having perspective on their situation is still not enough to break those associations.

In fact, gaining perspective can sometimes just increase their distress. Here's this thing that always had to do with exerting personal control and discipline, and now it's gained control over them instead. A thought that can simply increase their sense of not being in control. And when they feel out of control, what do they do then ? Turn to the thing that has always meant control to them : Their ED.

The paradox of all this is probably not lost on your daughter. The fact that they've found themselves bewitched by these deeply etched patterns in their brains can be a real source of distress, and distress often just drives them deeper into their ED like a snake eating it's own tail.

Letting them know that we can understand at least small parts of this, even if we aren't really in their shoes , can help some I think. Also mundane things like being involved in enjoyable daily activities, like going for walks, or other simple things that help them stay engaged in the world can help too.

But yes, so many dilemmas and contradictions surround this disease. As a parent, staying open and receptive to the various feelings and confusions she is up against is important I believe.

Keep writing ?