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SOS: Dinnertime Drama

I'm not going to lie, sharing a meal with a person who has an eating disorder is tough. Here are some tips to make it just a little bit easier.

When someone in your family has an eating disorder, how do you handle meals? Does everyone eat the same food? Do you make a separate dish for the special child? Or do you let your child make their own food?

You shouldn’t appease the eating disorder. I will say this again: you shouldn’t appease the eating disorder. One more time: You shouldn’t appease the eating disorder. This is one of the most important “rules” when it comes to handling the eating disorder. I will keep repeating this phrase often in my later posts because it is that important.

You should not make a separate dish for your disordered child. This gives the eating disorder power. This shows the eating disorder that you’ll make accommodations for it. That isn’t OK. The eating disorder should be treated just like anyone else would. The eating disorder should not come between you and your family. Not during mealtime, not ever. When it does become a problem, you have to be merciless with the eating disorder. You’re not being mean; it’s just called tough love. You’ll get used to the concept after a while.

When eating, your family should have the same dish. If people don’t like what you cooked, it’s their problem, not yours. They either eat it or they don’t. You’re not a short-order cook, always at their beck and call. If they won’t eat your food, then they have to find other food to eat.

Now, there are many different types of families, and what may work for some, may not work for others.  If you have tried the above set-up before and it hasn’t worked, then that’s okay. If your disordered child makes his/her own food and that works, then great. Find whatever works for you.

Another thing to consider: Family outings centered on food are going to be hard. Eating disorder sufferers are very picky about what they eat, not just at home, but outside, too. My mom thought that if she let my brother pick where we would eat, then he would eat more.

Of course, that never worked. It didn’t matter where he was, he just wouldn’t eat. One thing to point out here, though, is by letting the child with the eating disorder decide where to eat, you’re giving power to the eating disorder.  

You’re letting it rule your life. I know it seems like letting the eating disordered child pick where to eat is considered “being nice,” but it isn’t. You’re actually encouraging the eating disorder to stay.

What is the one main point that I want you to focus on in this article? I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: you shouldn’t appease the eating disorder. Good luck, and stay strong. May the force be with you.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Nancy Clarkson September 03, 2011 at 05:49 AM
Excellent points, Brooke. Thank you.

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