Last updated on August 31st, 2023
Where else to find information and support on eating disorders?
This page is about what you can find from other people. But first, because I work hard to offer you LOADS of resources so you don't have to go searching, a quick summary of my resources:
- My book – covers just about every question parents ask, and it's structured so that you dip in and out to find what you need fast.
- My large, searchable Bitesize audio collection: loads of super-short audios — the quickest and least stressful way for you to learn when you're busy or overwhelmed.
- My videos are short and will get you started on the main big questions.
- My free helpsheets: start with the first 2 pages. The next 2 are for later.
- My online workshops
Essentials: how to succeed with meals and other priorities$74.00 Book Now!
Extinguish fears: how to bring back flexibility$37.00 Book Now!
Freedom: how to bring back independence$37.00 Book Now!
Communication skills to support your child and be more effective$37.00 Book Now!
Grow stronger – Tools for your own wellbeing$37.00 Book Now!
Now, on to other sources of information and support that I particularly like.
To grasp the essentials
Get a great, positive, fast overview with this short video produced by Dion Howard of a New Zealand family's experience with the illness and with recovery.
Next, grab yourself half an hour, as this next video accurately tells parents what they need to know right from the start.
Now, sign up for The First 30 Days from parent group F.E.A.S.T (more on that later), so as to get educated about eating disorders in small daily chunks for 30 days. Even better, you can ask questions as you go along.
James Lock and Daniel Le Grange
These are the creators of family-based treatment (FBT), which some still refer to as 'The Maudsley Approach' (which causes confusion with 'New Maudsley', which is different). Their books for parents ('Help your teenager beat an eating disorder') and their manuals for therapists ('Treatment manual for anorexia nervosa – a family-based approach' and "Treating bulimia in adolescents") are must-reads for clinicians, and I also recommend them to parents as they are both highly readable.
Every clinician treating adolescent eating disorders should be familiar with these books, given that in all english-speaking countries there are national/professional associations that recommend or even require that a family-based approach is used in preference to any other method.
When I was supporting my daughter, these books helped me understand a lot more of what I should be doing. On the other hand I still wondered 'how' to do it. As time went on I realised that I was not alone and that quite a few parents were wishing their therapists would give them more practical tips. This is what motivated me to write my own book.
I would urge all clinicians to get hold of the 'New applications' and the 'FBT for restrictive eating disorders' books from the same team, in order to go further and to update themselves with developments and applications of family therapy for eating disorders.
'Sick enough: A guide to the medical complications of eating disorders'
Dr G is a well-loved specialist in both eating disorders and internal medicine. Her care and respect for patients is evident. This is a short and accessible book, packed with expertise on digestive troubles (painful tummy?), hormones (is the contraceptive pill a good idea?), metabolism, and so on. She covers physical issues individuals encounter before and during treatment. An absolute must-read for all professionals, and really useful to many parents and many of those with an eating disorder, whatever their age.
'When Your Teen Has an Eating Disorder: Practical Strategies to Help Your Teen Recover from Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating'
Written by the immensely trustworthy and competent family-based treatment (FBT) therapist Lauren Muhlheim, this book is just perfect. It has just the right length and the right level of depth to engage dazed and shocked parents with what they need to know, what they need to do, and how to do it.
Since you're on my website you may want to know how this book differs from mine. First I'd say, build yourself a mini-library. Parents and therapists tell me that the same advice, presented in different ways, encountered at different times, brings different 'Aha' moments.
I can't be objective but my guess is our books are similar. Lauren's is shorter and very successfully sticks to the essentials. I think that mine, being bigger, goes into more detail, with more examples and more discussion of the pros and cons around the many decisions parents face. Also, as a parent who's travelled the path, I put in more to help parents with their own emotions and with communication with their child. This comes at the cost of more pages.
There is a place for a shorter book that covers the essentials while also being big enough to offer substance — the kind of substance needed to make readers effective — and that's what Lauren has achieved.
Lauren asked me to comment on her draft just around the time I was wondering if I had the courage to write a shorter book. As I read through Lauren's manuscript I kept cheering, because it ticked all my boxes. Lauren has saved me one or two years of being hunched at a computer trying to make my sentences shorter.
Finally, Lauren Muhlheim's top professional qualifications give her book credibility. I dearly hope it will bring more therapists to FBT. I am celebrating that thanks to this book, more and more young people and their parents will have their life returned to them.
'Addicted to energy deficit: your neuroscience based guide to restrictive eating disorders'
Although this book provides education and self-help for adults, I am also recommending it to parents of youngsters. It really brings home the thoughts and rituals that lock our children into their eating disorder. It will help you with your compassion, and it will also help you be clear-eyed, determined and courageous.
And it doesn't have horror stories — I'm not a fan of traumatizing parents.
Helly Barnes writes from her experience of taking charge of her recovery in her 40s. There's also her professional experience as a recovery coach, and she supports her arguments with research in addictions and in eating disorders
She makes a strong case for tackling eating disorders as an addiction. She proposes that energy deficit (being underweight, eating insufficiently) leads to dopamine imbalances in those who are genetically vulnerable. And that restriction, as well as many behaviours and rituals associated with it, brings relief from the extreme fear and anxiety arising from abstinence.
Using the addiction model, she explains tasks of recovery that we parents know well from family-based treatment: full nutrition, full weight recovery, abstaining from eating-disorder behaviours, bringing back normality, and so on. She offers explanations for the mental hunger a person may feel even when their stomach is full, for the need for overshoot, for why the fear of becoming fat tends to disappear as people gain weight.
In a companion manual, 'Aiming for Overshoot: The Handbook You Need to Fully Overcome a Restrictive Eating Disorder' she offers more self-help tips and motivation. She also has an excellent podcast.
I enjoyed reading this book. It's very well written, and there is loads I recognise from the treatment of teens, as well as some big differences. For instance Helly makes an excellent case for stopping all eating-disorder behaviours and rituals at once. She justifies this from experience as well as from the dopamine argument. Total abstinence from getting your 'fix' means that you eat all types of foods in unrestricted amounts, while resting and abstaining from those physical activities that are part of your addiction: the yoga, the walks, even the housework. This will bring results — and relief — faster and more reliably.
Compare this with how most of us help our children: we prioritise refeeding and weight gain in a first phase. We're conscious that some foods and situations are so fearful that we will tackle them later, when anxiety levels have generally reduced, and when we can take the risk of a meal failing altogether. While many parents talk of the 'whack-a-mole' effect, and every ritual reminds us of the Hydra's heads, I can't think of any parent who has managed to enforce 'normal' behaviours along with everything else, all in one go. I've had some great chats with Helly about this and I'm interested in more. Indeed Helly is interesting because she went home to get her parents' help to kickstart her recovery. More on that on my page on adult treatment.
If in spite of Helly Barnes' scientific references you disagree with the eating-disorder-as-addiction-model (I am not qualified to evaluate this), you will still get loads out of this book. Models matter because they guide our actions as we make treatment decisions. What Helly proposes is infinitely more helpful than the common models that an eating disorder is all about control, or about terrible parenting, or about social media, or about a desire to be thin, or that it's a monster that we parents can hate and shout at.
So there's plenty to think about as you read Helly Barnes' engaging book. If you're reading it as a parent, it will increase your awareness of your child's experience. If your child is an adult then Helly Barnes is someone to follow and keep learning from. And if you're an adult with an eating disorder, I think believe this book will give you clarity and courage for you to work towards complete recovery.
'Rehabilitate, Rewire, Recover!: Anorexia recovery for the determined adult'
If you are an adult with an eating disorder, or want to help someone in that situation, then this is the book for you, and I highly recommend it. The support is similar to what I offer for parents of children and teens. There is a lot of passion and clarity about the illness and its treatment, and Tabitha's personal experience of recovery helps the message get through. If you are supporting a teen and want a better understanding of what's going on in their mind, this will help you. Whenever a book is written by ex-sufferers or their parents, I'm always cautious in case the stories are scary and zap parents of their energy. Quite the contrary with this book: it's all really positive and empowering. Tabitha Farrar also has a great podcast and website, and she supports adults in treatment with coaching.
Casey Crosbie and Wendy Sterling
'How to nourish your child through an eating disorder: A simple, plate by plate approach to rebuilding a healthy relationship with food'
With a family-based approach to treatment, we parents are in charge of food, and food is central to the treatment. According to the Family-Based Treatment (FBT) manual, the detail of what we feed is up to us. We are given the confidence to serve meals that have always been normal in our family, adapting quantities to ensure rapid weight restoration. We are also tasked with 'normalisation': we are empowered not be scared of what our child is scared of and we serve a wide variety of foods. Further into treatment, we help our children make their own choices, coaching them for independence.
FBT therapists validate that parents have the expertise and can do all this without shopping lists or calculations from professionals. I responded well to this because I found meal planning anxiety-raising and dull. The more natural and instinctive my shopping, cooking and serving could be, the better.
But it's normal for parents to ask for a lot more hand-holding at first, and there are many therapists who give parents meal plans. These may or may not allow for 'exchanges' and may or may not involve the use of a calculator and a knowledge of calories.
In this book, two registered dieticians (who fully support FBT) meet parents half-way. They offer a friendly visual guide to what should be on your child's plate at various phases of treatment,. This will give you the confidence that you are feeding enough and in balance, whatever your family's habits (vegetarianism and — to some extent — veganism are included). If you need even more hand-holding, there are examples of meals, and lists of which foods belong to which food groups.
I believe this will give a whole lot of parents the reassurance and clarity they are crying out for, while also allowing them to be flexible and intuitive and use their common sense. I'm a bit different in what worked for me, but then I had the support of an FBT therapist, which you might not have. I imagine that even the simple plate eye-balling guide in this book would have been more than I wanted. Many of our favourite meals were all-in-ones: most food groups were combined in a pasta dish or casserole or a pie. Some were very filling and for my 10-year old, didn't need to cover the 10-inch plate mentioned in the book. I like that I learned to trust my common sense. But then, our therapist (who had the additional kudos of being a dietitian) had repeatedly empowered us to feed what was natural to us. If your therapist is neither empowering you nor answering your nutritional questions, this book will give you a nicely practical way forward.
This book has many other strengths: it explains FBT, explains medical aspects, goal weight, exercise, and most usefully, the role of food beyond weight restoration. It does that really well.
There is much work to be done to bring our children's eating back to normal, and when I speak with parents I often see this being neglected — too often treatment ends with a barely-weight-restored body and a mind that is still tortured by rules. This book does a great job of describing exposure to fear foods, altering meals depending on where your child is with weight restoration, and how to promote your child's flexibility and independence (in FBT, this is part of 'Phase 2').
I like to take care of parents' emotional wellbeing and for that reason, I want to warn you that Chapter 4, on medical issues, could make you rather tense. If you are already anxious enough about what this illness might be doing to your child, you can skip this chapter and still benefit from the rest of the book. On the other hand, if your child is not being properly followed medically, this chapter will help you insist for more.
Since you're on my website you might be wondering how this book differs from mine. First, Crosbie and Sterling's book concentrates on topics related to nutrition whereas I aim to cover the whole parent experience. Both books talk about weight goals, exercise, weight gain, exposure to fear foods and normalising eating for independence. Crosbie and Sterling are clearly familiar with our children's plate-hurling abilities and highly experienced. At the same time their book doesn't delve into parent skills or strategies the way mine does. I'm not a dietitian and I don't give guidance on what should be on your child's plate during refeeding, whereas Crosbie and Sterling do. Buying books is not an either/or. If you're doing the difficult job of caring for your child, you probably need a small pile of books. It is useful to read similar messages put differently by parents and by professionals.
This short book, written by a certified FBT therapist, gives parents an overview of what anorexia is, what Family-Based Treatment is, and the main things parents will need to do. It gives an overview and guidance on skills parents need. This is ideal to give you the gist of FBT in just a couple of hours.
This book is a rare thing: it explains anorexia from a scientific, biological point of view. Carrie Arnold illustrates some of the points with her personal experience of dealing with anorexia.
Evidence-based CBT for eating disorders
Above: therapists' manuals by Waller, then Fairburn, then 2 books for adolescents by Grave, then self-help books by Waller, then Fairburn
I explain CBT in some detail here.
Is your child being offered cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)? The first question is 'Why?' The first line of treatment for an eating disorder in children and adolescents should be a family-based approach, as recommended by all the reputable professional or national health bodies.
Glenn Waller, the author of my favourite CBT manual, will tell you exactly the same. If there is a good reason for your child getting CBT (e.g. if family-based treatment is not working or if your child is an adult) then I recommend you start with his manual. Although it is written for therapists, it will show you what to expect.
If your child is being offered something very different it may be because what's on offer is general CBT, whereas for eating disorders you need a form of CBT that is specially adapted and researched for eating disorders. I come across therapists' websites that are too vague on this. More on this here.
Another manual for therapists is Christopher Fairburn's. He calls his particular form 'enhanced cognitive behaviour therapy for eating disorders (CBT-E)'. Therapists can use the word CBT-E rather loosely, so check what manual they are following, if any.
Both manuals are highly readable. Both authors have written self-help versions (which I haven't read properly). Self-help is not appropriate for children and teens. Self-help may be appropriate in the first instance for adults with bulimia or binge-eating disorder, but not for anorexia. Note that in the UK's health system, self-help may be an option for adults but it's done through mental health services, not alone.
I have not yet read the Dalle Grave book, but if you have a teen who is being offered CBT-E, I should think this is essential reading. The Waller and the Fairburn manuals don't focus on this age group.
Temperament Based Therapy with Support for Anorexia Nervosa (TBT-S)
by Laura Hill, Stephanie Knatz Peck, and Christina Wierenga
I want clinicians to know about this book because it is applicable to any age and uses family, friends, whoever makes a good 'Support' in order to actively help in the person's treatment. To me this is essential because currently, people tend to be expected to get better through sheer willpower and insight the minute they turn 18, even though we know that anorexia is an illness that strips you of insight and that it doesn't feel right to people to do anything but restrict, exercise, purge etc.
Another strength of this book is that it rests on neurobiology and uses all kinds of inventive games to get both the person and their 'Supports' to experience how their brain works for and against them, both because of the illness and because of their own 'Temperaments'.
As a result, even if as a Support person, you understand it's not useful to talk and behave in certain ways, you will not feel labelled or blamed. Same for the person with anorexia — zero blame. The focus is all on understanding one's strengths and making skilful use of them. Indeed I've seen Laura Hill talking in webinars and her humanity and respect for people shines through. Google TBT-S and the authors and you should find some videos from various conferences. There's also a good write up from Laura Hill on FEAST.
I'm glad to learn that there's a lot of TBT-S training going on in Australia. Presumably in the US too.
'Give food a chance'
This book is high on many parents' list of recommendations, and the Kartini clinic has a great reputation. I love the clarity and passion with which Julie O'Toole, the founder of the clinic, writes, both in this book and in her blog . There is an excellent section on the causes of eating disorders, the effects of food restriction (as revealed in the Minnesota semi-starvation study), and the sorry history of treatment approaches, including how parents came to be blamed and excluded from their children's treatment.
Julie O'Toole is a fierce advocate of the role of parents. She describes how the Kartini clinic works, with its hospital, day unit, and outpatient unit, how parents are involved, and how flexible meal-plans (which are included in the book) are devised. She explains her (to many parents, controversial) reasons for not including fast foods or sweets for an entire year (note that she doesn't work on exposure to fear foods, the way most of us do). There are excellent sections introducing the lay reader to the anatomy and physiology of the brain, and explaining the role of psychotropic medication. There are also explanations about target weight gain, ideal body weight and how it is determined.
This book will not give you any advice on how to get your child to eat at home. You might also want to skip some of the details about how the Kartini clinic works. But all in all, this is an important, instructive and highly readable book for parents, which I highly recommend.
'Brave girl eating'
Harriet Brown is a journalist whose daughter spiralled into anorexia at age 14. It's a flowing and gripping read, practical as well as moving. This family cared for their daughter at home and helped her to eat after rejecting options to hospitalise.
What you'll find in this book:
- it's a source of support, as you'll recognise similar stresses and challenges in your family. For this reason this is also a good book to ask your own parents and relatives to read, so that they understand what you're all going through.
- it's moving, but at the same time, it doesn't dwell on despair. So unless you're feeling particularly vulnerable right now, you should find that reading it doesn't turn you into mush, but helps you move forward.
- it gives you an insight into what's going in the child's mind, when they wish to eat but need their parent to make the decision for them.
- the author did considerable research and gives you just enough science to help you understand the nature, effects, and possible causes of the illness. Get a copy for each friend who needs to understand this illness in order to understand you and your child.
The only thing that's not 100% spot on with this book is … the cover of my edition. That elegant young woman languidly musing over a little dish of scones has nothing to do with the violent, devastating and passionate world of anorexia. And knowing the world of publishing, I bet it has nothing to do with the author's view of the topic either.
Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh
'Eating with your anorexic: a mother's memoir'
Thousands of parents, myself included, owe a debt of gratitude to Laura Collins for all her campaigning work, beginning with her book 'Eating with your Anorexic', which she wrote at a time when most clinicians found the notion of involving parents extremely off-putting. She is also at the origin of the excellent F.E.A.S.T website and its online forum for parents called 'Around the Dinner Table'.
Her daughter developed anorexia at a time when parents were told to back off and let the experts take over, but her research led her to FBT (Family Based Treatment), (which she refers to as 'The Maudsley method'), a method described in Lock and Le Grange's book 'Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder'.
Laura Collins did not have access to an FBT therapist, but went ahead as best she could. She writes a gripping and moving account of how she and her husband took control of their daughter's recovery. I could identify with all her struggles, tears and determination – if you feel alone, read this and you'll discover a kindred spirit.
Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh, in addition to writing her ground-breaking book, has devoted herself to improving public understanding, treatment, and support for families in the eating disorder world. She writes that her hopeful plea is for better science and an end to blaming families and blaming patients for a treatable brain disease.
'Please eat… A mother's struggle to free her teenage son from anorexia'
I like to remind parents to take care of their state of mind. Feed it with empowering things rather than with fear. If you keep reading distressing accounts from other parents, you are likely to be weakened. Even if you console yourself with 'It won't happen to me', you live some of the author's trauma, you get the adrenaline and cortisol rise, and that will weaken you. Yet we also want to get informed and learn from others' experiences. So I like to list this book, to recommend it to professionals, and to let parents decide if they will benefit from it.
This is an honest and insightful account of how Bev Mattocks supported her son Ben as he journeyed through the hell of anorexia and out into the light. Her story is typical of many parents' experience with the illness. She hunted high and low for information and support, she battled the shamefully inadequate health system, she attended to her son's schooling and social life, dealt with enormous tensions at home, and made some heart-warming friends along the way. This is also very much Ben's story: from the opening scene where we find him in hospital hooked up to a heart monitor, we're rooting for him to come out winning and we celebrate every step towards his recovery.
If you're a health professional, read it to understand what parents are struggling with at home. You will learn things that parents might not dare tell you in your consulting room. If your friends or relatives think that anorexia is simply a refusal to eat, get them to read Ben's story. And if you believe anorexia is a girl thing, this book will sweep away your misconceptions.
The 'New Maudsley Method'
Skills-based Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder
'New Maudsley'–sometimes referred to as 'The dolphin book' — is not, in spite of its title, an updated version of Family-Based Treatment/Maudsley. Indeed the book makes no reference at all to that treatment. The 'New Maudsley' approach comes from the adult eating disorders services of the Maudsley hospital in London, headed by Janet Treasure. It offers carers skills to support their loved one through whichever individual treatment they’re following (in other words, not treatment where parents take the lead) and it's not a treatment in itself.
Many of the skills are helpful to anyone in any situation, since they're about communicating with empathy. Some aspects may confuse you, though, if you're following the recommended family-based treatment for your youngster. With a family approach, you are tasked, in a first phase, with nourishing your child and interrupting harmful behaviours. With 'New Maudsley' it's all about nudging, patiently waiting for the person to have insight and motivation. In terms of collaboration, you only give the help your child asks for.
I say more on the important differences and sources of confusion here.
If you remember these crucial differences, you can learn plenty from New Maudsley to develop your communication skills with your teen, and indeed those skills are in perfect accord with what you'll find in my own resources.
Intuitive eating (including exercise and body image)
If you're not sure what diet-free living is, then that's pretty normal. Our society exhorts us to diet, count calories, exercise to change our body shape, and measure our worth according to our looks. Messages on BMI, health, healthy eating and virtue get so entangled that we don't know how to guide our children as they grow up. To get a vision of the mindset and behaviours you're aiming for, for full recovery from an eating disorder, or just for plain good living, read Tribole and Resch. They also have an excellent audiobook. For parents wondering how to navigate these minefields with their children, read "Raising body positive teens".
These books won't particularly tell you how to deal with those "Am I fat?" questions your child poses incessantly (the last one-and-a-half page of the Raising body positive teens book makes some suggestions). More from me on that here. And please know also that some people need some amount of eating 'rules' because their appetite and fullness cues don't function in a way conducive to intuitive eating (e.g. some people with ARFID, and people currently suffering from an eating disorder).
Alli Spotts-De Lazzer
MeaningFULL: 23 Life-Changing Stories of Conquering Dieting, Weight, & Body Image Issues
What was the journey of transformation for people with poor body image, over exercising, disordered eating or an eating disorder? And what was the experience of those (their parent, their child) who love them?
Each person in this book has a few pages to tell their story. And for each one, eating disorder therapist Alli Spotts-De Lazzer, who has her own recovery story, adds in some useful comments. These put each story in the context of the scientific knowledge we currently have.
You may have noticed that I'm not into recommending loads of memoirs from people telling their recovery story — and there's no shortage of these victorious accounts. That's because they tend to increase parents' distress (the stories can be so heart-breakingly horrific). And while your fear shoots up and you get weakened, you are still not learning much because the treatment the writer got (or didn't get) is now obsolete. Or it very much should be.
This book avoids those pitfalls. So if you are longing to understand your loved one better, and to bolster yourself with vision and hope, go ahead.
While I'm talking about Alli, she's written a super-useful page to help you choose a good teratment provider: "Is Your Eating Disorder “Specialist” Really a Specialist?"
Now some books covering the intersection of autism and eating disorders:
Supporting Autistic People with Eating Disorders
Edited by Kate Tchanturia
This book is the result of a whole lot of people working (and continuing to work) on the PEACE Pathway, a research-based resource for those supporting autistic people who have an eating disorder.
Please note that there are loads of practical tips from many parents on my own page on autism here.
As I have not read this book, I'm grateful to a parent who recommends it and has supplied me the following review:
"If as a parent your young person is diagnosed with ASC or, more commonly, if you recognise ASC traits and they are undiagnosed, then I would recommend reading this book. I recommend this for clinicians too — we need the professionals with the cross-over skills to help the young people with both anorexia and ASC.
It helps to clarify what to look out for in ASC, particularly in undiagnosed girls and it encourages you to consider and reflect upon their personality prior to the eating disorder. ‘The combination of autism and starvation is like autism on steroids’ (p39).
The case studies are interesting to read and the book highlights the importance of how treatment may be adapted, the relationship with the therapist, the environment and how it is communicated (a ‘communication passport’ is suggested).
Social anxiety is discussed and how psychoeducation, opportunities for skills rehearsal and positive self-talk can help.
The importance of a flexible treatment plan is emphasised and also how once weight restored, how young people with ASC may need to practise more self care and have greater understanding of their needs.
Different therapy styles are discussed eg Cognitive Remediation Therapy (p58) ‘Milly and her therapist collaboratively identified goals which include Milly wearing her hair differently every other day’ ‘thinking about the bigger picture in life’ and ‘practising cognitive flexibility’.
My takeaways are the importance of an ED team having skills of understanding ASC and how to adapt treatment, the importance of trust and relationships, that recovery may take longer and that psychoeducation is very helpful to young people who present with both ASC and anorexia."
(You can read another parents' view of this book here)
Autism and eating disorders in teens – a guide for parents and professionals
by Fiona Fisher Bullivant and Sharleen Woods
This book focuses on young people with both autism and an eating disorder.
From a couple of case studies, it is clear that individuals may have different reasons for using eating disorder behaviours, and treatment must be adapted to their needs. Likewise we may need to alter our expectations of what recovery looks like.
I see this book as an introduction to the subject, raising awareness of the gaps in the health system (England's in this case, but the issues are probably universal). Reading the case studies, I was appalled and grieved by the obstacles youngsters and their parents encounter in their search for effective treatment.
I gleaned some tips from the few teens and mothers quoted in the book, and I am left wondering how to extract from this some more generalised learning. Maybe this is an impossible ask, given the paucity of research in this field. Still, I am left wondering if the authors have more practical know-how to impart. [Update: yes they do! They are working on another book!]
How to support your autistic child with food, eating and mealtimes: a practical guide for parents, carers and other supporting adults
by Pooky Knightsmith
This book is on my reading list and I welcome comments from any parents who want to send them in. I expect it to be excellent and practical, as that's how Pooky Knightsmith's resources are. Head over to my 'autism' page for more links to Pooky's resources..
Books on ARFID and Autism
Janis Whitlock and Elizabeth Lloyd-Richardson
I don't know enough about self-harm to know which books to recommend. This one was recommended by a clinician and does seem to be strongly based on evidence. On the other hand I think it's missing the special focus on eating disorders which I guess parents long for. I imagine that you might act differently when eating disorders and self-injury co-occur. Bear in mind also that for many, self-harm abates with nourishment.
Substance abuse, addictions, and eating disorders
Edited by Timothy Brewerton and Amy Baker Dennis
A lot of people with eating disorders also engage in drug or alcohol abuse, and conversely a lot of people abusing substances also have an eating disorder. If your son or daughter is in this situation or if as a clinician you want to improve your ability to treat comorbid conditions, a good place to start is to listen to this podcast with Dr Timothy Brewerton. I have not read his book nor do I have any great knowledge of this area, so at this stage I'm signalling, not recommending.
Podcasts: so many experts!
Hear all kinds of eating-disorder related topics discussed by people who know their stuff.
"ED Matters" podcast
ED Matters has wide range of guests (clinicians from all professions, researchers, parents and recovered people), interviewed by the lovely Kathy Cortese. As they say, "the views of our guests are the views of our guests". The podcast is part of Gürze-Salucore and its catalogue of US care providers, where there are useful articles and book reviews (including mine).
Ed on ED
In Ed on ED, Dr Ed Tyson is interviewed on an eating disorder topic (you can also hear him on the "ED Matters" podcast). A lively way to hear an experienced specialist.
Tabitha Farrar's "Eating disorder recovery" podcast
She's stopped or paused her podcasts but the archive is excellent. I love her genuine and warm tone, and she knows her stuff, covers crucial topics and has great guests (including me, giving tips for mealtime support). Topics include eating disorders in adults and in youngsters. Her website is also full of resources, especially for adult sufferers.
Laura Collins Lyster-Mensh's "New Plates" podcast
Another top-notch podcast (also now paused) is "New Plates", from Laura whose praises I sang above.
The Full Bloom Project podcast
This is all about helping parents to create a body-positive ethos at home. How do you talk about your body, your child's body, other people's? How can you be more aware of any implicit fat-bias that you are unconsciously transmitting? How can you be a positive force in a fat-shaming, body-shaming, diet-obsessed culture? From Certified FBT therapists Zoë Bisbing and Leslie Bloch: www.fullbloomproject.com/podcast is discontinued but you can still listen to previous seasons.
Other types of resources
Attractive cards to prompt compassionate connection
I've only had a glimpse at this pack of cards but I love what I've seen. The prompts seem so connecting. The drawings are suitable for any age and quite delightful. There's also a sheet with great suggestions how to use the cards to prompt for conversation.
This is presumably designed for therapists, though I can imagine some parents would find it helpful too. I love that the cards make space to listen to the person, to show them we're interested. Our children can too easily feel like they don't matter.
Online workshops are increasingly available, and a great way to get started fast, or further develop your skills and knowledge. Below I list some workshops that parents told me they had benefited from.
- See my own workshops here.
Essentials: how to succeed with meals and other priorities$74.00 Book Now!
Extinguish fears: how to bring back flexibility$37.00 Book Now!
Freedom: how to bring back independence$37.00 Book Now!
Communication skills to support your child and be more effective$37.00 Book Now!
Grow stronger – Tools for your own wellbeing$37.00 Book Now!
- In the UK, the charity BEAT runs free workshops. They are based on the New Maudsley approach. I explain higher up how if you're the parent of a child or teen, you can benefit from this as long as you bear in mind that there is a difference between 'nudging' and relying on the person's motivation, and the family-based approach recommended for teens, which require parents to be in charge, in a first phase.
- Worldwide, you can also sign up for 'Carer Skills Workshops' based on the New Maudsley approach (see my comments above) run by parent Jenny Langley: https://newmaudsleycarers-kent.co.uk/ Her site makes many of the course materials available, including some YouTubes.
- Worldwide, watch out for any webinars using Emotion-Focused Family Therapy (EFFT). I love the warm humanity of Adele LaFrance and team, who display a deep empathy for families dealing with an eating disorder, and have great practical ways of teaching communication skills (see my book review here). Again, all compatible with my stuff!
Groups, organisations and charities
- I point you to online peer-support groups here and say more about how you can get great support and learning from them… and what might alert you a group is not for you
- And on this page I list some organisations and charities in various countries that provide support, information and that campaign for better services
Great websites, blogs and videos
Outstanding videos for carers
First, take note I have produced some video and audio resources for you. Check out, for instance the very popular short 'bungee-jumping' video.
There are some informative and 'how-to' videos by C&M Productions, created by Charlotte Bevan, and 'Mamame' who were two moderator/mentor members of the Around The Dinner Table forum. I believe Janet Treasure was part of the team. The all-important body language and setting is missing, because these are simple animations, but it's still worth listening to what's said.
For instance, ‘ Modelling support ’ shows a girl putting up many arguments against eating her lunch. ‘ Modelling effective parenting for eating disorders ’ is also about lunch, but here the dad deflects a huge amount of abuse from his daughter (though the abuse looks quite tame, without the body language!) In both cases you can see how the parent keeps on topic, remains non-judgemental, loving, and ultimately, supports their child to begin eating. Similar is ‘ Rolling with resistance ’ has a young man insists on salad instead of the food on his meal plan. The woman supporting him seems to be a hospital carer.
The Maudsley Parents website isn't being maintained but it still is available, with a fantastic collection of videos, featuring some of best experts in the field. Watch, and in an hour or two you will learn what might have taken you a year of learning the hard way: http://maudsleyparents.org/videos.html
Maudsley Parents website
MaudsleyParents.org has been discontinued but the website is still there, with lots of information from expert therapists and from parents, all using Family Based Treatment (FBT) as manualised by Lock and Le Grange (Americans used to call it 'the Maudsley method', and this became confusing as then 'New Maudsley' came along and it's not the same thing.)
There's a great 'ask an expert' section, and a helpful of page of book reviews on books about eating disorders. And again, there's a fantastic collection of videos, featuring some of best experts in the field.
- Lauren Muhlheim, Eating Disorder Therapy in Los Angeles: http://eatingdisordertherapyla.com/ Laura is a clinical psychologist, expert in Family-Based Treatment, and writer-extraordinaire (in the sense that not only has an excellent book reviewed above, but she has contributed great pieces to many platforms, including verywell.com/eating-disorders-4014731
- Dr Julie O'Toole: http://www.kartiniclinic.com/blog/ There is a lot of medical expertise as well as a wonderful compassion in this clear and informative blog. You will learn tons from the archives.
- Dr Sarah Ravin: http://www.blog.drsarahravin.com/ She is an FBT-trained psychologist, with a commitment to scientifically sound information and evidence-based treatment. Every single one of her posts is written with great care and empathy, and I love her clarity. It's really worth checking out the archives.
- Science of Eating disorders by Tetyana: http://www.scienceofeds.org/. This hasn't been updated for the last few years but I still like to remember it as it has some excellent articles.
- EQUIP's blog on https://equip.health/blog/
- FEAST's blog and news on https://www.feast-ed.org/at-the-feast-table
To keep up with research papers
If you’d like to keep up to date with research, the main sources are www.pubmed.gov, and also PubMed Central® (PMC), and www.plosone.org, which make their papers available to the public for free. Note that some of the blogs listed above tend to comment on the major new pieces of research.
I use the affiliate scheme for Amazon and for The Book Depository: this means I earn commission if you make purchases on those sites directly after clicking on my book links.