Last updated on October 29th, 2023
I've produced tons of help for you. Use this guide to jump straight to the bits you need.
If you're not sure your child has an eating disorder
You are the expert on your child. If you are concerned, you're probably right.
Experts recommend early diagnosis and intervention — a 'wait and see' attitude is as wrong as waiting for cancer to progress to a later stage.
Ask for an urgent appointment with your family doctor or directly with an eating disorder specialist service. Chapter 3 of my book, which is here in its entirety, will help you prepare.
If you are made to wait (services are struggling), read what follows. The more educated you get about the very effective ways you can support your child, the easier it will be.
From my Bitesize audio collection, a clip on "First conversation about the eating disorder":
If your child is restricting food, over-exercising or purging
Your child should have access to specialist eating-disorder treatment as early as possible (days, not months). That's even if they currently don't seem particularly thin.
If you're on a waiting list, keep updating the clinicians about any worsening symptoms or behaviours, and use Accident and Emergency if in doubt. Because of their waiting lists, many clinicians are instructing parents to get started as follows:
- Support your child to succeed with 3 meals and 3 snacks every day
- Support your child to regain lost weight
- Support your child to refrain from (excessive or compulsive) exercise and from purging
Yes, but how?!
- For a quick read, see pages 1 and 2 of my free helpsheets
- Jump on to my workshop "Essentials"
- To learn one or two essentials fast, use this playlist of my YouTubes, starting with the popular 'bungee jump' video
- You are likely to have many 'Yes, but how' questions, so jump to the bits you need right now in my book.
- Are you saturated, overwhelmed? That's what my searchable Bitesize audio library is for. Listen 'on the go' as each short audio answers one common question.
If you're hunting for an excellent treatment provider
In most countries you need to choose your treatment providers carefully, as many have not sufficiently updated themselves. For most youngsters the most effective treatment is a "family-based" approach, where parents are guided to actively support their child. I offer a brief guide to choosing great treatment in 'How to choose treatment for your child' and go in more depth in Chapter 12 of my book.
If your child still can't eat
Keep your courage and keep educating yourself. This journey has its ups and downs.
Inform the treatment team of symptoms and behaviours (meals, exercise, any purging or self-harm). They may give you some meal coaching, or professionals may do some of the meals at home. Your child may need a higher level of care. The specialists may alter or add to the treatment approach (e.g. changing the focus with regard to psychotherapy, treatment for OCD, autism).
If your child can eat but is mentally 'stuck'
Well done for supporting your child through 'Phase 1'. Now educate yourself about the much-neglected work of extinguishing fears, and then, you'll need to do 'Phase 2' in a safe and confident way.
A. Your child needs your support to work through the foods and situations that remain fearful:
- for a quick read: page 3 of my free helpsheets.
- I guide you through the 'exposure and desensitisation' process in Chapter 9 of my book (extracts here) and in several Bitesize audios.
- Also, in my workshop 'Extinguish Fears'.
B. Your child needs your coaching to get back to their old 'normal': you are easing them into age-appropriate autonomy:
- for a quick read: page 4 of my free helpsheets
- for guidance on many practical situations are you guide your child back to normality, see 'Phase 2' in chapter 10 of my book (extracts here) and in my Bitesize audios
- come to my workshop 'Phase 2′ Freedom: how to bring back independence'
If you are longing for emotional help
Every person involved with a loved one in the grip of an eating disorder needs help with the intense emotions that come up. What can you do?
- Tackle your helplessness by learning the many things parents can do
- Chapter 15 of my book guides you through tools to manage your emotions and so do my Bitesize audios
- I also produced some guided meditations
- I run a workshop for your wellbeing and resilience
- Peer support can cut through the isolation. I signpost you to this here.
Many more questions?
Use the top menu and its search box. Or see the FAQ page.