Wednesday, March 31, 2010

How do I respond to my child's comments about her body?

Parents/Family and Friends often ask me about how they are to reply to the comments of loved ones with eating disorders.

When we barely can comprehend what it is they are saying and why, it can make responding feel like walking through a field of land mines.

Here are a few examples of what a family member might hear during the course of an eating disorder:

  • I ate at my friend's house, I don't need dinner.
  • Why are you always into my business?
  • What difference does it make to you what I eat?
  • So, are you happy now? My jeans that used to be loose are now tight!
  • I hate my life, will I ever be recovered?
After a long day it can be overwhelming and feel a bit like you've been slammed against a wall to hear some of these comments and questions. What's a person to do right then and there in that moment?

I welcome your feedback on what has worked (and not worked) in your household and also the comments of therapists and dieticians who specialize in treating eating disorders.

Here are some great suggestions from the National Eating Disorders Association toolkit for Parents on How to be supportive:

  • Be patient and nonjudgmental
  • Be honest
  • Let him/her know you only want the best for him/her
  • Don't take the person's actions personally
  • Listen openly and reflectively
  • Talk with the person in a kind way when you are calm and not angry, frustrated, or upset
You can view the whole list here by clicking on #4 How to be supportive -

ps. I love hearing your ideas on what works for your family during holidays such as Passover and Easter when you have a loved one with an eating disorder.

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