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Communication Tips for Families in Eating Disorder Recovery

Woman on the Beach

Families play such a vital role in eating disorder recovery.  Your loved one(s) can benefit greatly from your support and involvement in their journey to recovery.  Below are some communication tips for families to keep in mind as they embark on the road to healthily recovering from an eating disorder.

Avoid making any comments (positive or negative) about physical appearance and weight.

There are comments that we say like “You look really good today” – from the mind of someone with an ED – they might think – I must have gained/lost weight. ‘You look thin” can mean to the ED that they are doing a great job and to keep it up. It is best to not make any comments that relate to how they look. 

 

Be an empathetic listener.

“I can hear that this is really scary and overwhelming for you.”

 

Have conversations that do not include talk about diets, calories, or exercise. 

It is always best to have a strong support system of people that you can trust and be open with about your feelings and struggles while in eating disorder recovery. You can rely on your support system, whether it may be a friend, family member, or even your therapist to be there for you in times that feel stressful. Your support system of trustworthy allies can help you breathe through stressful situations, help you redirect your focus, and be there for you when you need them most. Whether they be the people you call on the phone to discuss your thoughts and emotions or be the people that you ask to attend an event with you so that they can assist you in engaging in conversation that isn’t revolving around diet talk, they will be there for you when you need someone to lean on for support when you need it.

 

Express that you understand how eating disorders are very complicated. Recovery is hard work.

Eating disorders can change the brain. The altered brain from an eating disorder can suffer from anxiety, depression, adverse effects on emotions, weakened response in reward circuitry, shrinkage in overall size, as well as difficulty thinking and switching tasks. The mending process of the brain can’t happen overnight, but by making recovery a priority, the brain will heal over time. Eating disorders also tend to get in the way of personal values, making your loved one believe that the values of the eating disorder are their own. The eating disorder values food choices, weight, and appearance and will set goals related to these values. These values are not your loved one’s values. Eating disorders are incredibly complex mental illnesses. 

Remember that your child is not going through a phase and that this will pass.

We see our children constantly changing and having many successes and setbacks. Seeing your child depressed, anxious, feeling worthless, or not good enough is heartbreaking for us to watch. We never want to blame them or tell them all the things that they could be doing differently. It is our job to really listen, validate and let them know you are there for them. When they hear “you just need to…” they might be hearing that they aren’t good enough. 


One thing that I have heard a lot from children is that they have been suffering for a while and it wasn’t until they got really sick did their parents notice. I am not sure if this is accurate. I think what often happens as parents is that we feel helpless, confused, and at a loss for how to connect. So the best thing we can do is not assume that their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors are just phases. Take this time when you notice, to truly connect and give loving-kindness.

Very importantly, being a parent of someone going through an ED is so extremely hard. You are not alone. There are resources for you.

Prosperity invites you to come join our virtual Parent Support Group that meets on Monday nights at 6 PM. This is a safe and open space where we will answer any and all of your questions about eating disorders and mental health while providing you with an open forum to make validating supportive connections with others who are sharing this experience.

To register, please email information@prosperityedwell.com 

 

Virginia’s Premier Day Treatment And Intensive Outpatient Treatment Centers

Prosperity Eating Disorders & Wellness Center specializes in the treatment of eating disorders while offering evidence-based, comprehensive, ethical, and individualized treatment to all ages, ethnicities, genders, and eating disorders. Our goal is to help sufferers find a full recovery by meeting their psychological, nutritional, emotional, and relational needs. We specialize in treating Anorexia, Bulimia, EDNOS, Orthorexia, and Binge Eating Disorder. With locations in Herndon and Norfolk, Prosperity is equipped to serve the needs of adolescents and adults throughout Virginia. 

Get started with Prosperity Eating Disorders & Wellness Center today!

Prosperity Advocates for Critical Eating Disorder Treatment Legislation

Prosperity Advocates for Critical Eating Disorder Treatment Legislation

Prosperity Eating Disorders and Wellness Center meets with Quena Dailey, Constituent Services Representative of US Senator, Tim Kaine

Prosperity Eating Disorders and Wellness Center had the greatest pleasure and opportunity to meet with Quena Dailey, MPhil, MPA. Quena Dailey is the Constituent Services Representative at the office of United States Senator, Tim Kaine.

Quena Dailey was given a tour of our eating disorder treatment facility in Norfolk, Virginia, as we told her more about who we are, what are doing for our community, and discussed particular issues around insurance coverage for eating disorders. We sat down and discussed the two bills we are working towards getting passed that will make a more significant change in the healthcare and eating disorder community. These bills include the Telemental Healthcare Access Act and the Anna Westin Legacy Act.

The Telemental Healthcare Access Act:

• The bill removes the statutory requirement that Medicare patients be seen in person within 6 months of being treated for mental health services via telehealth.
• This bill is consistent with how SUD telehealth services are covered under Medicare.

• Given commercial payors rely heavily on Medicare to make coverage determinations, we want to ensure these artificial barriers are not replicated in other insurance markets.

The Anna Westin Legacy Act:


• This bill would reauthorize the Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders to continue training primary and allied health professionals to screen, briefly intervene, and refer individuals with eating disorders.

• The bill would expand the evidence-based SBIRT protocol to the pediatric level.

• It would also build adaptive modules for at-risk communities that experience under-identification, including racially diverse and tribal communities, rural communities, men and boys, military families, veterans, and LGBTQ populations.

Prosperity Eating Disorders and Wellness Center would love to thank Quena Dailey for representing US Senator, Tim Kaine, for taking the time to tour our facility, learning more about who we are and what we do as well as listening to the changes that we are so passionate in working towards for our community!

Adjusting to Summer in Eating Disorder Recovery

Woman on the Beach

The Sun is beaming down on us way more than what we have been used to, people are wearing lesser clothing, and we are starting to hear the phrase “bikini body” said way too much… Summertime is here.

Summer is an exciting time for many people, but the people in eating disorder recovery are not always feeling the same levels of excitement.

Here are some ways to help adjust both mentally and physically to the sunshine-filled season of Summer while in recovery from your eating disorder.

Shut Down The Diet Talk

Warmer weather means people will be wearing less clothing to remain comfortable outdoors. This time of year, diet talk seems to come up more and more everywhere you go. First off, what exactly is diet talk? Diet Talk is exactly what it sounds like. It is the conversation among others on restrictive dieting, working out, and nutritional adjustments made in someone’s life to change their body shape/size/weight. Diet talk can also be as subtle as someone saying that they are “so bad” for eating dessert last night or that they’re going to need to “work off all the calories” after a meal. When people are wearing lesser clothing, they tend to drop diet talk around A LOT. We often hear the phrase “Summer Body” come out a lot at this time of year, as people are concerned with feeling that they must look a certain way for others due to having to wear less clothing. The truth is that we already have our Summer bodies. We have our Summer bodies just as we do our Fall, Winter, and Spring bodies. There is absolutely nothing that changes in between the seasons besides how you dress to keep your body comfortable!

So, what do you do when small talk gets too “diet-y”?

Tune it out and simply change the subject.

For example, you’re at a cookout and a friend brings up the new diet that they started for the Summer. They are mentioning that they are doing this to look good in a bikini. Here’s what you can say: “I’d really like to talk about something new with you! I would love to hear what you have been up to these days! Have you done anything fun lately or gone on any trips that you can tell me about?” By doing this you’ve tuned out the diet talk and have switched the conversation over to a new focus on catching up with your friend. Or, if you’d like to be more direct, you could say, “I have struggled with body image issues before and I don’t feel comfortable discussing this. Can we talk about something else?” By being direct with how you feel about the conversation, you have made it clear to your friend that you will not be partaking in any sort of diet talk with them. It’s not rude to switch the subject or completely avoid it, you are doing this for your well-being. Always remember that diet talk belongs to our very broken diet culture, not to you.

 

Wear Clothing That You Feel Comfortable In

Your physical comfort is a priority! If you don’t want to wear a bikini to the pool or beach, you don’t need to! If you feel more comfortable in shorts and a tee-shirt, then wear that! Summertime might involve having to wear lesser clothing, but that doesn’t mean that you must stick to a certain dress code. Clothing should never make you feel constricted either. If something is too tight or the fabric just doesn’t feel right, opt out for something different to wear that you can move freely in! Comfort is always key!

 

Unfollow Social Media Accounts That Are Negatively Affecting Your Body Image

If you’re seeing posts on your feed that trigger negative thoughts about your body image, you can unfollow them to protect your mental health and well-being. Being exposed to content involving weight loss stories, fitness routines, or people in their bathing suits can trigger those in eating disorder recovery. Being envious can come naturally when taking a look at other people’s lifestyles. This feeling of envy can quickly become very destructive and damaging to your feelings of self-worth and how you view your body! If an account is making you anxious or questioning how you feel about yourself in a negative way, it’s time to hit “unfollow.” Your mental health will thank you in the end.

 

Secure A Trustworthy Support System

It is always best to have a strong support system of people that you can trust and be open with about your feelings and struggles while in eating disorder recovery. You can rely on your support system, whether it may be a friend, family member, or even your therapist to be there for you in times that feel stressful. Your support system of trustworthy allies can help you breathe through stressful situations, help you redirect your focus, and be there for you when you need them most. Whether they be the people you call on the phone to discuss your thoughts and emotions or be the people that you ask to attend an event with you so that they can assist you in engaging in conversation that isn’t revolving around diet talk, they will be there for you when you need someone to lean on for support when you need it.

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder this Summer or beyond, please reach out for help. 

Virginia’s Premier Day Treatment And Intensive Outpatient Treatment Centers

Prosperity Eating Disorders & Wellness Center specializes in the treatment of eating disorders while offering evidence-based, comprehensive, ethical, and individualized treatment to all ages, ethnicities, genders, and eating disorders. Our goal is to help sufferers find a full recovery by meeting their psychological, nutritional, emotional, and relational needs. We specialize in treating Anorexia, Bulimia, EDNOS, Orthorexia, and Binge Eating Disorder. With locations in Herndon and Norfolk, Prosperity is equipped to serve the needs of adolescents and adults throughout Virginia. 

Get started with Prosperity Eating Disorders & Wellness Center today!

10 Common Eating Disorder Myths Debunked

10 Common Eating Disorder Myths Debunked

Eating disorders are surrounded by a very large number of myths and misconceptions that make the importance and severity of an eating disorder very difficult to fully understand. Read below as we debunk 10 of the most common eating disorder myths!

MYTH: Only teenagers have eating disorders.

FACT: Eating disorders affect all ages, genders, races, ethnicities, cultures, sexual orientations, body shapes and sizes, geographical locations, educational statuses, and socioeconomic statuses. Eating disorders do not discriminate, there is no immunity against other demographic segments.

MYTH: Eating disorders are a choice or “lifestyle.”

FACT: No one decides that they want to have an eating disorder. There is no exact cause for one developing an eating disorder. Eating disorders are generally believed to be caused by a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

 

MYTH: Males don’t risk the development of an eating disorder.

FACT: About one in three people suffering from an eating disorder are male. In the United States, studies show that eating disorders will affect 10 million males at some point in their lives.

 

MYTH: People with an eating disorder are just in a phase and will eventually just grow out of it.

FACT: Eating disorders are not a phase or a choice made by someone. Eating disorders are serious, complex, and potentially life-threatening mental and physical illnesses that require professional attention to be effectively treated.

 

MYTH: Parents are to blame if their child develops an eating disorder.

FACT: There is no evidence that parenting style and actions are the cause of their child developing an eating disorder. Eating disorders develop from a combination of factors. Parents are not to blame but they are crucial to recovery.

 

MYTH: Strict dieting is nothing to be concerned about.

FACT: What appears to be a strict diet on the outside may actually be the beginning of an eating disorder. Chronic dieting has been associated with the later development of an eating disorder, so addressing these issues right away may prevent a fully developed eating disorder.

MYTH: You can look at someone and tell if they have an eating disorder.

FACT: Individuals of any body shape and size can suffer from an eating disorder. There is no distinct body size or shape that can distinguish whether or not someone has an eating disorder.

 

MYTH: Purging is an effective way to lose weight.

FACT: Purging restricts your body from digesting your food properly and will not result in effective weight loss. Purging is a very dangerous behavior that is associated with medical conditions that have an impact on one’s teeth, gastrointestinal system, esophagus, kidneys, skin appearance, cardiovascular system, musculoskeletal system, and eyes.

 

MYTH: An eating disorder is no big deal.

FACT: Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. One suffering from an eating disorder may face medical complications from binge eating, purging, starvation, and over-exercising. Suicide is also very common among individuals suffering from an eating disorder.

 

MYTH: Children aren’t affected by eating disorders.

FACT: Eating disorders affect all age groups, as well as children. Eating disorders can cause significant damage to a child’s body, affecting their physical growth which is an important component of childhood. The rates of eating disorders among young girls and boys under the age of 12 have been growing in the past several years.

To shed light on the prevalence of eating disorders in the Black community

Eating disorders DON’T discriminate!

Contrary to the common stereotype of having an eating disorder, eating disorders affect all races, genders, ethnicities, ages, and sexual orientations. The popular culture has deemed the eating disorder stereotype to be a White women suffering with anorexia. This stereotype has resulted in those that do not fall into this stereotype, such as the Black population to receive under-diagnosis, under-treatment, and have the lack to receive help for their disordered eating issues. There are many other eating disorders that exist besides anorexia, i.e., bulimia, binge eating disorder, orthorexia, OSFED, etc. Those besides anorexia seem to be researched the least because they do not fall into the popular culture stereotype that anorexia is the most significant eating disorder.

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week will take place this year during the week of February 21-27th, 2022. With National Eating Disorder Awareness Week falling during Black History Month, it’s time that we shed light on the prevalence of eating disorders in the Black community.

Here are some shocking statistics and facts to support that the prevalence of eating disorders in the Black community are on the rise and need not to be ignored:

1The lifetime prevalence rates found for bulimia in Black Americans is 1.5% for adults, which is slightly higher than the national average of 1.0%.

2. Black LGBs have at least as high a prevalence of eating disorders as white LGBs.

3. Between 2017 and 2020, there was a 216% rise in the number of Black people being admitted to hospital due to eating disorders.

4. When presented with identical case studies demonstrating disordered eating symptoms in White, Hispanic and African-American women, clinicians were asked to identify if the woman’s eating behavior was problematic. 44% identified the White woman’s behavior as problematic; 41% identified the Hispanic woman’s behavior as problematic, and only 17% identified the Black woman’s behavior as problematic. The clinicians were also less likely to recommend that the African-American woman should receive professional help.

Goeree, Michelle Sovinsky and Ham, John C. and Iorio, Daniela, Race, Social Class, and Bulimia Nervosa. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5823.

Henrickson, H. C., Crowther, J. H., & Harrington, E. F. (2010). Ethnic identity and maladaptive eating: expectancies about eating and thinness in African American women. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 16, 87-93.

Jackson, J.S., et al. (2004). The national survey of American life: A study of racial, ethnic, and cultural influences on mental disorders and mental health. Int J Methods Psychiatr Res,13,196–207.

Taylor, J.Y., et al. (2007). Prevalence of Eating Disorders among Blacks in the National Survey of American Life. Int J Eat Disord, 40(Suppl), S10–S14. doi: 10.1002/eat.20451

Thompson BW. A Way Outa No Way: Eating Problems among African-American, Latina, and White Women. Gender and Society.  1992;6: 546.

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