Tuesday, June 15, 2004

I Should...

staple this to my mother:

Supporting a Loved One in Recovery

It is perfectly normal to feel frustrated, confused, and sad when you love someone who has an eating disorder and you want to help. What feels supportive at one time may not at another. What feels helpful to one person may not to another. Below are some general guidelines that you may want to discuss with the person you are trying to support.


* Discuss eating habits, weight, food, or appearance. If these topics are brought up, say that you are uncomfortable with the subject and you feel it is not helpful to their recovery. These topics never lead to an "answer" to the eating disorder and they can be construed as judgments or attempts to control.
* Do not talk about body sizes and appearance whether your own or anyone else's. Make no critical comments about your own or any other person's body.
* Do not have emotional conversations during meals which should be a time to relax.
* Do not "check in" about what your loved one is eating/not eating. Encourage outside help with meals through a nutritionist who specializes in eating disorders or a 12-step group such as Overeaters Anonymous. Participate in meetings such as AlAnon as much as possible to get a better understanding of the process of recovery.
* Do not become therapist or physician to your loved one. Not only will it create burnout in you, it won't work.
* Do not judge your loved one's recovery. Eating Disorders are complex, often involving ups and downs that are actually part of recovery. Get support for yourself to talk about your fears.
* Do not try to control your loved one's intake. Your relationship will suffer and it will not work.
* Do not stock the kitchen with your loved one's binge foods or their no-fat diet foods. 


* Do talk with your loved one about your concerns, letting them know you want to be supportive of recovery. Ask what you can do and recommend professional support.
* Do learn about eating disorders and recovery.
* Do attend AlAnon or CODA, 12-step groups that can help you take care of yourself.
* Do contact professionals for groups/therapy that can help you.
* Do listen, do NOT preach. Your loved one may develop a different way of seeing herself as she goes through recovery. Let her find her own way.
* Do look at your own behaviors and attitudes toward food and your body. As you become honest and get help for yourself, you also help your loved one.
* Do realize that eating disorders are not chosen by those who suffer from them. Try to recognize your anger toward the eating disorder instead of toward the person.

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