National Eating Disorders Association

When your child is struggling with an eating disorder, the holidays can be a complicated time for the whole family. With that in mind, our PFN Steering Committee shared their best tips on how your family can have a peaceful and healthy holiday season.

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One of the things I found most difficult during my daughter’s struggle with an eating disorder was how to fulfill my role as a parent even when the experts’ advice ran completely counter to my instincts. I would feel like some of my daughter’s behavior demanded consequences, yet her therapist would tell me to let him handle it, and/or to remember that she was punishing herself in so many ways and didn’t need more punishment. I felt at odds letting her get away with behaviors that I wouldn’t let my other children do without consequences.

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As my college-aged daughter was landing on the tarmac after ED treatment away from home, I stood at the stove feeling apprehensive about the sour cream I was stirring into the chicken paprikash and the homemade macaroni and cheese that was baking in the oven.  My mind buzzed with all the concerns she could potentially raise, and I felt keenly aware of the return of mealtime anxiety.

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This Mother’s Day, we want to thank all the wonderful mothers (and mother figures) for their unconditional love and support when caring for a loved one with an eating disorder.

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Early intervention. The phrase can sound like a negative judgment to a parent whose child has been in treatment for an eating disorder for multiple years. The mind returns to the time that the clues began appearing and wonders anxiously, “What if I had done x or y then? Would I have staved off the ED?  If I had been more vigilant, more protective, stood like a demon mother with a pitchfork outside my daughter’s bedroom door, would I have prevented the eating disorder from getting in?

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I took the screening  and it told me I could be at risk for an eating disorder...what do I do now?

First, congratulations for reaching out to the National Eating Disorders Association and finding the courage to take the screening. You’ve taken the first step to getting help! If your results show that you are at risk for an eating disorder, it means that you selected criteria that could be consistent with disordered eating behaviors and it’s time to get the help you deserve to overcome those thoughts and behaviors. 

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I was raised with the belief that language is important.  I was taught that that the precision of my words could greatly affect the impact of what I say. When I first met my partner a little over two years ago, one of the main things we bonded over was our love of language. A creative writer herself, I could see how carefully she spoke.

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Taking time to care for yourself is an important part of recovery from an eating disorder. As Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation....” With that in mind, we've compiled a master list of ideas, inspiration, tips and tidbits to help you find the kind of self-care that works for you! Take a look and feel free to experiment!

Look at inspiring messages and images online!

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When our daughter developed an eating disorder at 15, her educational trajectory was suddenly no longer predictable or inevitable.  She stopped completing assignments, and often lay in bed refusing to go to school.  In one year’s time she went from being a straight-A student playing two varsity sports to a student with 21 absences and two incompletes in her 10th grade year.  In addition to making important decisions about our daughter’s health care, we had to rethink her education.

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When my beautiful daughter was diagnosed with severe anorexia in 2013, I was gobsmacked. I came up with a hundred irrational rationalizations and alternative reasons for her severe weight loss. But, soon enough our new reality sank in: this was serious and this was not going away quickly or easily. 

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