Who is this book for?
When Your Child Has An Eating Disorder: A Step-by-Step Workbook
for Parents and Other Caregivers is
a must-read for every parent whose child may be dealing with an
eating disorder, or is susceptible to developing one.
Are you a parent?
Do any of the following scenarios describe you?
Your child is a disordered eater. She is frightened of food,
of herself when she is around food, and of becoming fat. Your
child does not have an eating disorder, but she is frightened of
food and eating. She is terrified about becoming fat. She
wouldn’t miss a day of exercise if her life depended on it. She
skips meals whenever possible and chews gum or sips diet drinks
to control her hunger. According to her, healthy eating is
“eating as little as you can when you are hungry and stopping as
soon as you can.”
Your child has an eating disorder and you have not yet
mustered up the courage to tell her she needs help. You
do not know how to confront her and what to say. You are afraid
that she will resist your efforts to help her or that she will
respond angrily. You fear that her behaviors will become more
entrenched for recognizing them openly.
She may not know that what she is doing to herself is harmful,
she may not be willing to let go of the behaviors, or may remain
secretive about her behaviors.
Your child has an eating disorder and is convinced she is
capable of handling it herself. She
believes she is in control of herself and her eating and can
will herself to make changes when she is ready. She does not
recognize that she is in the death grip of a lethal disease. In
the meantime, your child hardly eats, she is dropping pounds
rapidly, or becomes fiercely angry if you implore her to stop
hurting herself and to eat more.
You believe that you are the cause of your child’s eating
disorder. You are
afraid that addressing the problem directly could make matters
worse. You assume that you have made too many mistakes, despite
your good intentions. Perhaps you were too controlling with her,
resulting in her becoming overly controlled with herself.
Perhaps you were not controlling enough, resulting in her
feeling overly powerful and needing the eating disorder to
assume an iron grip of self-control so she can feel safely
grounded. You think there is nothing you can do.
You don’t know what to say to your child, and you wish you
did. You feel the
need to educate yourself about these diseases and then to
educate your child about the danger she is in. You need to help
her find better ways to resolve the emotional problems that
underlie the dysfunctional eating or exercise behaviors you see.
Your eating disordered child may already be involved in a
therapy/treatment process which appears to be non-productive. The
professional team your child is using may not be expert or
knowledgeable enough about the unique aspects of this treatment
specialty. Your child’s therapist may be under the all too
common misconception that by simply addressing the “other
issues” that underlie the eating disorder, the disordered
behaviors will eventually heal themselves and vanish.
You wonder if your child is in the best professional hands,
and if so, what to do in response. Noticing
that despite your child’s having been in treatment for her
eating disorder, the disorder is not going away, you wonder
whether it may be time to intervene to bring about positive
Might YOU have an eating disorder, too? This
book helps adults afflicted with eating disorders to understand what
they are going through, both as people and as parents, and to learn
what to do to come through the experience a complete and whole
person. This book is inspirational and motivating, providing the
guidance, support and reassurance patients of all ages need to gain
the wherewithal to fight this disease and come out the victor.
It is not uncommon for women in their thirties, forties, and
fifties to admit that they have struggled with their disorder
for decades. Accomplished
professionals, mothers and wives, and they gone underground with
problems, dodging children whom they do not want to influence
negatively, and husbands who they do not want to shock or
disgust. They may have lived under the misconception that people
simply grow out of eating disorders. Many do not come to
treatment; those who do, come feeling defeated, futile,
discouraged and fearful. Here is a book full of solutions for
Are you a health professional or educator?
Health professionals and educators, too, have a great deal to
learn from this resource. If
you are a doctor, psychotherapist, nutritionist, nurse, or
patient educator, you may find yourself feeling the need
to refer these cases out of your practice, assuming you are
ill-equipped to deal with this specialty. This book offers a
unique “insiders” look at the illness, at unique treatment
requirements, and at the unique role of the professional team
and the family players in the child’s experience of going
through and beyond sickness to become well. Health professionals
are encouraged to use the upwards of 50 exercises and activities
provided in this workbook as a springboard for discussion,
personal insights and self-awareness in groups and individual
Teachers, coaches, and school guidance counselors learn
to recognize signs of eating disorders, as well as of incipient
disease, and to address these issues directly with students and
parents. As agents of prevention, diagnosis and cure, schools
become potent advocates for students and families in helping
them find effective community-based recovery resources, in
improving life quality and the capacity to learn. In some cases,
these “lessons” can save lives.
This book is unique
Here is what sets it apart.
This book is about hope.
This book provides a way out if you are feeling trapped in fear
and confusion… it offers optimistic solutions and hope,
reassurance and wisdom, tools and resources, and best of all,
the permission we all need to be human… to be imperfect…and yet
Between its covers lies a “virtual” psychotherapy experience.
This book is an essential companion to the psychotherapy
process. Psychotherapy is about learning and making changes; it
is about self-awareness, relationships and freedom to make
choices and take action. This book augments, facilitates and
streamlines that process. Parents and patients cannot afford not
to read this book.
The book helps you assess whether your child’s therapy and
treatment program is as effective as it can be.
It teaches you how best to support your child throughout the
treatment process. What feels supportive to your child will
change throughout the therapy process; The nature of your
support will need to change throughout your child’s treatment to
accommodate the changing needs of your developing child.
The book teaches parents what they are doing right.
Through the process of your child’s recovery, you will find
yourself growing and learning, both as a parent and as a person,
in tandem with your maturing child. You will ultimately learn to
become a better parent to your child.
This book could save your child’s life.
Eating disorders are the most lethal of all the mental health
disorders; 87 percent of those afflicted are children under the
age of 20. By guiding you to tend to your child’s needs, this
book will be instrumental in improving the life quality of your
Through recovery, children claim to “have their life (and
personality) back.” Parents claim to “get their child back,”
making connections that are healthy and that are lasting.
When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder: a Step-by-Step Workbook
for Parents and Other Caregivers is a workbook.
It is filled with over 50 exercises and activities for readers
and their families to try in the interest of learning more about
themselves, their child, this disease, and and how to overcome
it. The written exercises personalize the workbook for each
parent, tailoring awareness and insights to the personal needs
of each reader and child.
This book says it all.
The information in this book answers all of your
questions…including those you may not yet have been able to
formulate. It will accommodate your own and your child’s needs,
no matter what point she may be at in the diagnostic, treatment
and recovery processes. Open this book to any page to find
information pertinent to your own and your child’s needs and
A second read-through after your child has become more
substantively involved in the process will add layers of more
profound levels of understanding and meaning.
The following are some of the book’s most important messages
Parents confronting an eating disorder in their child need not
feel lost or frightened.
Eating disorders are difficult diseases to detect and to understand.
Even more perplexing is how to respond to them and to your afflicted
child. It may feel as though your child has become “lost” to you,
that you don’t know her anymore, that she has been taken hostage by
the dictates of an eating disorder. What starts out as benign enough
quirks or habits around eating can turn into a dangerous and lethal
dysfunction that impairs a child’s capacity to learn, to interact
with others, and to mature healthfully.
Shed your guilt to help your child heal.
As a parent, it’s easy to feel that whatever bad happens to your
child is a result of your having done something wrong. Parents
are not to blame for
their child having an eating disorder. There is a lot they can do,
however, to heal their child once afflicted, or even to prevent an
eating disorder that may be developing.
Rectify the problem, NOW, and for the future. You’ve heard that
eating disorders cannot be cured, that “once anorexic, always
anorexic,” don’t believe it.
If there was ever a time when you needed to step forward and to act
“parental,” it is now. Your child’s eating disorder has compromised
her perspective, judgment and ability to survive. It is up to you to
take a stand, at least until your child can regain his or her own
Take charge in an intelligent and appropriate way until such
time as the child is capable of resuming self-care through
self-regulation and self-control.
When parents learn how to respond and leave no stone unturned, when
help is optimal and support is forthcoming, eating disorders are
completely curable in 80 percent of cases.
The sooner you define the problem, the sooner you will be able to
find lasting solutions. Early problem recognition and sensitive and
knowledgeable parental participation in recovery are two of the most
significant factors in achieving a timely and sustained recovery.
Reconnect with your child to help heal your child.
Eating disorder recovery relies principally on the health and
stability of the parent/child connection. The nature and quality of
your relationship with your child now can be instrumental in saving
his/her life. In addition, when parents hone their parenting skills
in helping their child recover, they are investing in the quality of
their relationship with their child for the rest of their lives
Establish a strong connection with your child.
Be a parent to your child, not a friend. Being the parent your
child needs you to be regarding her eating disorder could save
Re-discover and follow your instincts about how to behave, what
Recognize what you are doing right, and keep on doing it.
Know what more you need to learn in order to parent your child
Be expertly guided in your actions by the incomparable
resource, When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder: A Step-by-Step
Workbook for Parents and Other Caregivers. This
book outlines all you need to know to become the parent your
eating disordered child needs in her efforts to recover; it
answers your questions, leading you step-by-step through what is
typically an extended and convoluted process. It covers such
topics as recognizing disease, confronting your child, finding
the best professional help and learning how to support your
child optimally in her efforts to heal.
Learn how to choose your child’s professionals carefully. Learn
to trust your instincts about the quality of your child’s
Not every therapist or doctor is emotionally or professionally
equipped to handle your child’s care expertly. Inexperienced
professionals may not recognize the power of an informed and
committed parent to heal a suffering child and may not know how to
access this powerful recovery resource.
Do not be excluded from your child’s eating disorder recovery,
or randomly denied access to a process that is unfolding before your
eyes every day. It is up to you to see the writing on the wall and
to take action. Living side by side with your child and with this
disorder, you need to become more than a passive bystander. Informed
parents play many roles; they are diagnosticians, limit setters and
confidants. They are child advocates and they are, in some cases, as
responsible for facilitating the child’s day to day tasks of
recovery as is therapist or physician.
Your child will consider you an ally, not an adversary.
Your child needs you now more than ever. On some level, your child
knows that the disease that she sees as sustaining her life, also
denies it. Despite his or her apparent resistance and protestations,
your child will welcome your intelligent and informed input.
The eating disorder is a “monkey on your child’s back,” depriving
her of self, and the freedom and capacity to learn and solve
problems effectively. It prevents effective self-regulation and
self-care. It interrupts the process of normal development into an
emotionally effective adulthood. It is what stands between your
child and happiness.
Your child’s health professionals should be your allies. Too
many therapists are of the mind that parents are the cause of their
child’s eating disorder and that therefore, the therapy process
“belongs” to the child alone. They view parental involvement as
interference depriving the child of independence and autonomy. Some
professionals do not understand that the eating disorder exists
within the family system, and does not just belong to the child
afflicted. Facilitating your child’s recovery, at home and through
family treatment, is NOT the same as interfering with your child’s
Misguided professionals believe that they would violate their
child’s privacy and the confidentiality of the therapy sessions by
coaching or guiding parents. Do not be taken in by this
misconception. Therapists spend 45 minutes a week with the patient;
parents live alongside their child 24/7.Parents and siblings
who exist side by side with the disorder also need to learn to live
productively alongside its recovery. In
hiring your child’s professionals, seek positive changes in your
child that will reverberate throughout the entire family system.
Seek until you find….