Katie and I had the honor of presenting in the Individual, Family, and Friends track at the National Eating Disorder Association Conference in San Diego yesterday. The title of our talk was: Family Based Nutrition Therapy: Creating A Supportive Environment. It was a chance to share the way we work to support families who are helping children with eating disorders.
Here are some of the key points of our talk:
- Families can be an important part of the solution for eating disorders.
- Parents can and should help with refeeding and nutritional rehabilitation.
- Food is medicine for the treatment of eating disorders.
- The initial focus of treatment should be on nutritional rehabilitation; don’t worry about the cause.
- Growth charts should be used to establish individualized weight goals.
- Three meals and three snacks at regular intervals throughout the day helps in the recovery for ALL eating disorders.
- More fat and variety in the diet lead to better outcome for patients with anorexia.
- Prioritizing health sends a strong message; don’t be afraid to pull a child with an eating disorder from an activity.
- In beginning stages of recovery exercise generally is contraindicated; prioritize health.
- Exposure is important to recovery. Expand the range of foods eaten. Practice eating in different settings. Return to restaurants the family used to enjoy. Push different meal combinations.
- Serve dessert daily until the child no longer asks, “When don’t I have to have dessert anymore?”
- Photos of meals can be used for remote supervision.
- Parents need to prompt children with anorexia to eat. This will likely upset them but get them to eat which is necessary for recovery.
- Parents should provide a structure that reenforces recovery behaviors and makes it impossible for the child not to recover.
- Parents should seek support for themselves. Great resources for parents include: