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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!

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!

Finding Beauty in Our Imperfections

Releasing Perfection for a Better Life Through the Ancient Japanese Philosophy of Wabi-Sabi

In our world, we live fast-paced, sometimes highly stressful lives. Judgment and the desire of meeting society’s standard of perfection is something many of us may struggle with. Living by the teachings of the ancient Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi can change our perspective on life, helping us find the beauty and appreciation in imperfection.

“Even when petals have flaws, all you see is a beautiful flower.” -Adrianne Elizabeth

Wabi-Sabi is an elegant philosophy that promotes a more connected way of living. Living a lifestyle the Wabi-Sabi way, one is more connected to nature, and thus, better connected to our truest inner-selves. Wabi-Sabi allows us to search for the beauty in imperfection by accepting what is flawed, impermanent, and incomplete. Perfection is unattainable by accepting this philosophy into our lives. Impermanence becomes the elusive beauty of life.

What is Wabi?

The term, Wabi, refers to living in tune with nature, paring down to the essentials, so that each object and moment are appreciated in it’s fullness. Open your heart, appreciate simplicity, detach from materialism, and you will experience spiritual richness.

What is Sabi?

The term, Sabi, refers to the concern of the passage of time. The passage of growth, age, and decay manifests itself into the beauty of an object. Beauty lies from beneath the surfaces, underneath the cracks, imperfections, and wrinkles.

Together, Wabi-Sabi promotes the thought of, “Accept what is, stay in the present moment, and appreciate the simple impermanent stages of life.”

Freedom is found through acceptance of what is. Surrender to the gravity of the situation, giving gratitude to all that is. Nature is always changing, therefore it is not perfect, and nothing can be absolutely complete. Perfection is a state of completeness. So, why do we put our body through such shame in attempting to sculpt it to perfection, not eating enough, over exercising, or disregarding the importance of nourishment? The attempt to achieve a perfect body is just one blurring out the understanding of what perfection truly is. The desire of looking younger is very popular as well with the usage of many different anti-aging products. What’s forgotten about is ageing with the passage of time is beauty itself. With imperfection, we should not compromise it, we need to accept the imperfections because that is the true nature of life. Just as nature is, life is fragile and temporary, so allow yourself to accept what is and find the love in the imperfections.

In Japan, broken objects are repaired with gold. The flaw is seen as a unique piece of the object’s history, which adds to its beauty. When you are feeling broken, remember this. 

“Put simply, Wabi-Sabi gives you permission to be yourself. It encourages you to do your best but not make yourself ill in pursuit of an unattainable goal of perfection. It gently motions you to relax, slow down and enjoy your life. And it shows you that beauty can be found in the most unlikely of places, making every day a doorway to delight.” -Beth Kempton

Resources: 

Itani, O. (2021, April 24). 5 teachings from the Japanese wabi-sabi philosophy that can drastically improve your life. OMAR ITANI. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.omaritani.com/blog/wabi-sabi-philosophy-teachings.

Jobson, C. (2017, October 19). Kintsugi: The art of broken pieces. Colossal. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.thisiscolossal.com/2014/05/kintsugi-the-art-of-broken-pieces/.

Shaireproductions.com. (2012, September 27). Imperfect flower. Flickr. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/shaireproductions/8030295044.

Walther, A. (2021, January 14). What is Wabi Sabi? the elusive beauty of imperfection. Japan Objects. Retrieved October 19, 2021, from https://japanobjects.com/features/wabi-sabi.

Equity for All

We believe in Equity in Treatment for all.

Prosperity Eating Disorders and Wellness specializes in the treatment of eating disorders while offering evidence-based, comprehensive, individualized treatment to all ages, genders, and eating disorders.  Our goal is to help sufferers find a full recovery by meeting their psychological, nutritional, emotional, and relational needs throughout Virginia.

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