When an illness like an eating disorder (ED) comes into a families’ life it has the effect of reorganising everyone, like an unwelcome guest overstaying it’s welcome; parents and siblings have to shift to accommodate it and before you know it, ED’s affects are strongly felt by all. It’s fair to say that the pandemic has reorganised families in a similar way. However, whilst parent/carers attentions have, quite rightly, been on keeping the family safe, ED has been able to lurk in the shadow of the virus, thrive and really get its ‘feet’ under the table.
This has made signs of restrictive and/or disordered eating more difficult to spot as ED is very good at hiding behind seemingly innocent expressions to eat ’cleaner/healthier’. Physical exercise has also been encouraged throughout the pandemic meaning the fine line between healthy routine and obsession may be difficult to spot for parents.
However, families are an important part of the SOLUTION and the change. Here are a few tips from mother and author Eva Musby and The Emily Program on how parents can begin getting their child to eat:
- Develop family routines (that do not involve activity and exercise). Join your child in an activity/ snack.
- Ditch the diet. It is important to help your child/young person avoid and navigate triggers. Avoid comments about weight and diet talk, that may unintentionally give unhelpful messages to your growing young person about normal healthy food/energy/social eating needs.
- Communication, Compassion and curiosity. Understanding how the sufferer is feeling will help you not blame them for their actions and will help you push through. Keep lines of communication open and remain curious. How are they coping? What support might they need?
- Fix your own mask first. Remember long ago when we could travel by plane? Parents would, each time get the sage advice to fix their own masks first. The same applies today. Self care and compassion for the caregiver is just as key to recovery. Remember the better care you take of yourself the better care you will be able to provide to others See Eva Musby: Peace compassion, courage. Meditation guide for parents of someone suffering from anorexia or another eating disorder.