How to Overcome an Eating Disorder? Tips for Patient, Parent & Teacher

Heather Campbell
 min read

How to overcome an eating disorder?

How to Overcome an Eating Disorder? Tips for Patient, Parent & TeacherConfronting eating disorders is not easy, but it is much needed. In fact, eating disorders are a huge threat to health, both psychological and physical.

As a general rule it is hard to confront an eating disorder. It is vital to celebrate every milestone, ignore negative people and pointing fingers, be encouraging, seek healthy outlets to reduce obsessions with food, and choose short term goals that have nothing to do with food.

What can you do about eating disorders? The ideal situation to prevent an eating disorder is by creating an environment where causes or triggers of eating disorders are addressed and where emotions and concerns are discussed.

How to overcome an eating disorder: Introduction

No one is born with a complete ability to handle emotions, so learning is vital.

In practice, some families have more training in this than others.

People with an eating disorder (adolescents or adults) must be given the space to deal with their feelings appropriately. This is how they find their way through life which is full of ups and downs.

The following are interesting tips for patients with eating disorders.

We also list some tips and advice for parents of people with eating disorders and teachers of youth with eating disorders.

Tips for patients with eating disorders

  • Fighting an eating disorder is not easy so take pride in every little victory. Facing an eating disorder is an incredibly courageous move, and it’s something you can be rightfully proud of.
  • Point out negative people around you for their behavior and possibly ban them from your life if they cannot be more positive during your presence. No one ever got stronger from another person knocking you down repeatedly.
  • Are you often haunted by painful memories of traumatic events? Then try to gather your courage and find a confidant with whom you can reveal your feelings calmly and without prejudice. This can be a psychologist or a professional healthcare provider on eating disorders. Still, it can also be your father or mother, a teacher, a friend, a family doctor, etc.
  • Really no one is perfect, and that is obviously just life. Perfection is a utopia and a real barrier to feeling good about yourself. True perfection is unattainable and thus only encourages dissatisfaction anyway.
  • Find a healthy outlet such as walking, jogging, writing, painting, making music, meditating, biking, practicing yoga, swimming, drawing, and so on.
  • Give recognition to the realization that you are struggling at times and that you are struggling with yourself. You have the right to feel bad and have varying emotions.
  • Be critical of manipulated images. No one looks like the model in the picture, not even the model in the picture. Most images seen in the media and online are digitally edited with software. They are, therefore, simply a false representation of reality.
  • Learn to listen to your body and treat it with respect. After all, deep down, you know that eating too little or too much one-sidedly does your body no good.
  • Stop your scale addiction and stop weighing yourself constantly. Right after getting up before peeing, right after getting up after peeing, before your breakfast, after your breakfast, before dinner, after dinner, right before bed, and so on. Don’t give your scale the power to determine your daily mood (and choose a scale that matches your body!)!
  • Surround yourself with friends who are not constantly fixated on appearances and flaws.
  • Write down personal goals that have nothing to do with your weight or appearance. Choose short-term goals that are easy to achieve and enjoy every step in the right direction you’ve taken.

Advice for parents of adolescents with eating disorders

  • From the birth of the apple of your eye, create an environment where there is no fixation on your child’s appearance.
  • Continue to believe that recovery is possible for your child with an eating disorder. An eating disorder is one of the most persistent addictions, but it can be overcome!
  • Pull your daughter or son out of isolation and encourage her or him to meet up with friends and participate in relaxing activities.
  • From an early age, teach your child to really listen to their body to recognize specific signals from the body such as pain, hunger, and satiety and to be able to respond appropriately.
  • Remember that your child with an eating disorder often thinks they have lost their way. So reassure your child constantly. Being stuck in an eating disorder can feel tremendously frightening and turbulent. But feeling and thinking that the parents will always be there can provide security for the child with an eating disorder.
  • Try to build a regular eating schedule and eat with your children. Treat everyone equally and just give everyone at the table the same treatment. Ensure the dishes on the table are not one-sided and offer enough healthy variety.
  • Take care of yourself and therefore pay sufficient attention to yourself. Incorporating me time is essential to stay happy yourself.
  • Try not to allow guilt to prevail because everyone makes mistakes, even the best parents. If guilt prevails, there is simply no room for solutions. So put aside your guilt and look for solutions with your child.
  • Do you struggle with feelings of shame? Set aside your sense of shame as a parent and, to do so, contact a therapist who specializes in counseling parents of eating disorder patients.
  • Be a safe, non-judgmental haven for your child. Acknowledge emotions, listen to signals, concerns, and events, do not immediately condemn them, and avoid reacting disproportionately.
  • Be combative in helping to fight your child’s eating disorder. There is a tendency not to grasp the seriousness until the physical effects are evident. Do not make this mistake; therefore, do not wait for irreparable damage to occur!

Tips for teachers of adolescents with eating disorders

  • Encourage your student to have a conversation with their parents. You may want to prepare this chat together, so your student has a handle on this difficult step. Not every family has smooth and open communication, so as a teacher, you can undoubtedly make a difference in raising awareness in certain situations.
  • Talk privately with a student showing signs of an eating disorder. Don’t fall for it immediately but tell them you’ve noticed a change. For example, say that there is a lot of arguing with other students, that grades have suddenly become a lot worse, that homework is suddenly not being done, and so on).
  • With your student, seek professional help if the situation is severe. Don’t hesitate; it’s better to act quickly and proactively.
  • Give your student the feeling that your door is always open to continuing the conversation. Young people with eating disorders are on a roller coaster of emotions, so a listening and independent ear can be of tremendous value to them.
  • Listen to your student without making direct interpretations and judgments.
  • Casually, invite the student to talk for a while and do so in a quiet environment where there can be no disturbance.
  • Do not tolerate aggressive behavior from the student with the eating disorder, and make it clear that some form of respect must always be maintained.
  • Be open to the signals students send out and notice noticeable changes in their behavior and physicality. Then dare to talk about it too.
  • Dare to admit that certain things are not part of your expertise and naturally integrate the idea that additional help is needed.

Negative body image and eating disorders: What is the connection?

It is important to note that most people with a negative body image do not have eating disorders, and not everyone with an eating disorder has this problem (and could even have a positive body image).

There is a connection between the two, but it is not so direct in most cases.

Low self-esteem may also have to do with your skin, the body’s functionality, a lack of muscularity, facial features, etc. In other words, a negative body image need not always be related to weight and nutrition.

Eating disorders can be associated with a negative self-image and are characterized partly by a distorted view of one’s body and weight.

An eating disorder is a complex and complicated illness that should not be thought about too straightforwardly.

How to overcome an eating disorder: Conclusion

So how to overcome an eating disorder? Recovering from an eating disorder is not easy, and it usually proceeds with ups and downs and trial and error.

Many people with eating problems do not seek help or do so late. This sometimes happens because of guilt, shame, and/or fear but also because the person with the eating disorder is unaware of the severity of the problems and feels in control.

The earlier eating problems are addressed, the faster and easier recovery is possible.

That’s why we recommend sharing eating problems, no matter how difficult, with confidants and seeking help. This can be with a professional, family members, or a close friend.

The first step in getting help is to discuss the eating problems with the family doctor. The family physician may then refer to more specialized help.

A general practitioner sees many people with various problems, so it is essential to be adamant that eating problems are present when they are.

Different treatments are available for eating disorders, such as individual treatment, group treatment, treatment with your family, or a combination. There are many possibilities and what fits depends on person to person and on the severity of the symptoms.

About Heather Campbell

As a nutritionist, my field of specialization is science-based nutritional advice but more importantly, it is my goal to share capturing and inspiring stories, examples and solutions which can help plus-size individuals overcome their specific difficulties. Read More