What help is available?
The important thing to remember is that the person with an eating disorder needs professional help. The person is caught in a cycle of destructive behavior that they cannot break alone, even with all the willpower in the world.
If you think someone in your family may be struggling with an eating disorder, speak with your child's physician or call an eating disorders program that specializes in the treatment of children, young adults and teenagers. Children, teens and young adults have different problems and pressures than adults, and treatment approaches should address these special concerns.
For more information about the Children's Hospital Colorado Eating Disorders Treatment Program, please call (720) 777-6452.
What can I do?
As a parent:
As a friend:
- Be a good role model. Set a family standard of eating meals together regularly and encouraging balanced eating and activity.
- Avoid negative comments about appearances and be aware of comments you make about yourself and family members. Stay positive and emphasize the whole person, not just how someone looks. Don't criticize or tease your child about minor weight gains, and avoid power struggles over food.
- Help your child build healthy self esteem. Give them opportunities to explore different interests and build confidence.
- Remember that no one is to blame when a child develops an eating disorder. Discuss your concerns openly, then seek professional help. A pediatrician or primary care provider is where most families start when they become concerned.
As a school nurse, counselor, teacher or coach:
- Don't comment on your friend's eating behavior or size. If your friend has had anorexia nervosa and gains weight, don't praise him or her for it. What your friend will hear is, "You're fat again."
- Remember that you can't solve the problem. You aren't responsible for saving your friend – you can be supportive and concerned, but encourage your friend to talk to a parent, teacher, or counselor. If they don't, tell an adult close to your friend about your concerns.
- Discuss your concerns with the child or adolescent first, and suggest that he or she talks with the parents.
- Expect denial of any problem. You may have to talk with the parents, but always let the adolescent know that you will be doing this and why.