Stories about: anorexia nervosa

5 things parents should know about eating disorders

Dr. Sara Formandirector of Boston Children’s Hospital’s Outpatient Eating Disorders Program and Dr. Tracy Richmonddirector of the PREP weight management program in Adolescent Medicine, share five things parents should know about eating disorders.

Kids don’t have to be really thin to have an eating disorder.

Not everyone with an eating disorder looks like he or she has an eating disorder. The condition is often hidden in secret habits or obsessions. For example, binge eating and bulimia — or binging and purging — are common eating disorders not necessarily associated with thinness.

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"What I wish parents knew about eating disorders…"

In the following blog, a teenager who has overcome an eating disorder reflects on what she wishes more parents knew about the condition. For more information visit Children’s Center for Young Women website, or this parent’s guide to eating disorders.

It was never about weight. I just wanted to feel like I had some control.

I never thought I was fat. In fact, I liked the way I looked before I developed an eating disorder and liked my body less and less as I continued to lose weight. What a lot of people, including my parents, didn’t understand is that an eating disorder functions as a coping mechanism for other problems in someone’s life.

As I met more people who suffered from eating disorders, I realized that many of us had something in common. Many felt some sort of loss of control in their life and had used their eating disorder as a reaction or way to deal with it. Although for some people bad body image did play a large role in what started their eating disorder, for a lot of people it was the feeling of losing control in their life that they discovered was the initial cause of their eating disorder.

People with anorexia nervosa feel like they are able to gain control through extreme dieting and strict rules around food. They control what they eat, and eventually the shape and size of their body. Although it is an unhealthy coping mechanism, the eating disorder gives them a sense of relief that there is one thing in their life they can completely control without anyone else being able to have an influence.

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