Support a loved one
Eating disorders (ED) can be complex and severe, usually affecting all facets of the life of people afflicted and particularly the day-to-day lives of their entourage. As parents and friends, your physical and psychological health is of great importance throughout the recovery process of your loved one. Above all, you should not hesitate to seek help for yourself because the road to recovery from an eating disorder is also difficult for relatives.
At the BACA Clinic, we want to accompany you to provide support and give you the tools to meet your specific needs. We offer various services to help you get through this difficult period, with meetings and family coaching, as well as support groups for parents and relatives.
If you answer “yes” to several of these questions with regard to a person in your entourage, a thorough evaluation is essential. Eating disorders are progressive, insidious and self-destructive conditions. The sooner a person gets help, the sooner the process of recovering from weight and thinness disorders can begin.
Answer “Yes” or “No” to the following questions.
Is this someone in your entourage?
• Thinks constantly of food, weight or their physical appearance?
• Has a morbid fear of gaining weight?
• Becomes nervous before or after eating?
• Feels guilty after eating?
• Spends long periods of time without eating or eating very little?
• Is embarrassed to eat in front of other people?
• Is uncomfortable about their weight or their physical appearance?
• Weigh themselves several times per day?
• Cuts food into tiny pieces or hides food?
• Exercises excessively?
• Vomits after meals?
• Uses laxatives to prevent weight gain?
• Eats large amounts of food without being able to stop?
• Eats when bored, sad or depressed?
• Believes that food controls their life?
• Gets dizzy spells without any medical reason?
• Has lost or gained a lot of weight during a short period of time?
• Has not had a menstrual cycle for at least three months?
• Has been confronted by family or friends because of a weight problem?
People with eating disorders suffer a lot, even if this distress is not always apparent. It is a severe and complex condition that is difficult to understand. The process of healing can also be painful, long and laborious. That’s why it is important to adopt an attitude of openness, empathy, and patience toward oneself and toward others. To learn more about the recovery process, consult the heading Get help.
According to ANRED, a non-profit organization that provides information on eating disorders, as a result of a treatment, 60% of persons suffering from a food disorder will fully recover, 20% will recover partially and the remaining 20% will not improve.
While EDs have several treatment possibilities, the BACA Clinic recommends a multidisciplinary approach in order to take account of the different spheres of functioning affected: psychological, nutritional and medical.
By asking for help, you will be in a better position to help your loved one in their recovery process. It is crucial, however, to differentiate between your own involvement (your emotions, expectations and desires as well as your understanding of the situation and your pace of healing) and the recovery process of the person afflicted, who must go through the process at their own pace.
Blaming yourself won’t help
Eating disorders are caused by a multitude of factors; physiological, genetic, psychological, social and family. Although important, the family dynamic is only one element among all the others. There’s no sense in chastising yourself. At the BACA Clinic, we realize that children are not born with a book of instructions and that parents raise their children with the best of intentions.
However, studies establish a link between persons suffering from eating disorders and the presence of the following characteristics within their family unit:
• Too much emphasis on performance and achievements
• Fusional relationships marked by a difficulty to establish borders and/or limits
• Difficulties in expressing anger
• A dissatisfaction with their body or an eating disorder among the parents
• History of substance abuse or other psychiatric disorders
In light of this, parents should promote an openness of mind to first understand the difficulties which exist within their family system and be willing to work to resolve these difficulties, even though that may be arduous.
How do you prepare yourself?
To communicate with your loved ones:
It is important to realize from the outset that it is difficult to communicate with a person suffering from an eating disorder, regardless of your level of diplomacy and the severity of the situation.
The following concepts and tips can help you:
The choice of the moment is crucial: choose an appropriate time when you are all relaxed and the situation has not yet escalated. Avoid engaging in discussions during a meal or about food.
Use sentences with “I”: talk about your own experience. Using “you” in an accusatory tone only aggravates things further.
Come together: family and loved ones need to support one another. Regardless of your differences of opinions, communicate the same message about health and recovery from the eating disorder.
Learn to distinguish the “healthy person” from the “eating disorder person”: do not tell your loved ones that you don’t trust them. Tell them rather that you don’t trust their eating disorder.
The real problem is not the food: debates surrounding food and nutrition are a lost cause. Talk instead about your concerns for their physical and emotional health due to behavioural changes that you have observed.
Learn more: do your own reading, make preparations, go to meetings and share information. An informed person is better equipped and more effective than someone who is not.
Be yourself: authenticity is so important. Expressing your emotions and empathy without self-censorship is often the most powerful tool.
To take care of yourself:
Take a moment to make a list of activities and people who fill you with great joy, promote your well-being and give you positive energy. Despite the distress of your loved one, make sure you continue engaging in these activities and spending time with people who are good for you.
• Spend intimate time with your spouse
• Eat out with friends
• Take time for yourself
• Treat yourself to a body massage
• Join a yoga class to liberate your spirit
• Consult a professional and/or join a support group to help you manage your sadness, your frustrations, your confusion and your feeling of powerlessness.
Don’t forget that your physical and psychological health is of very great importance. You also need all your strength and your energy to get through this ordeal.
Keep the faith
Recovering from an eating disorder is a long and unpredictable process. You will encounter many ups and downs. Please be aware that it is normal to sometimes fear the worst, that your loved one’s recovery is unattainable. During these hard times, we urge you to remember that, as professionals, we have the chance to see many testimonies of hope each day in our offices. The key is to not give up! In the hope that this day of hope will soon arrive for you and your family, the whole BACA Clinic team wishes that you are able to find the strength and comfort throughout this road to recovery/path toward healing.
“You really go beyond the call of duty. After ten years of treatment, you are the only ones who have been really able to help our daughter. On behalf of our entire family, THANK YOU!”
– C.C’s parents
“I will never be able to find the words to express my gratitude to the BACA Clinic… Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“Thank you to the BACA Clinic for their professionalism and their respect. Thank you for supporting us and restoring hope to our daughter. You were our last resort and, more importantly, you were a great help.”
– Catherine’s parents
“When I look at the BACA Clinic, I think of the love that I found within its walls, the caring and attentive staff, but especially, I think of the hope that this team instills in all those who want to overcome an eating disorder.”
Eating Disorders Clinic
Come and meet us1538 Sherbrooke West, suite 510
Montreal (Quebec) H3G 1L5
Contact usPhone: (514) 544-2323
Fax: (514) 759-3084