8 Tips for Supporting Mealtimes
Mealtimes can be a battleground when you live with someone who has an eating disorder.
Do you let the person set the rules around what is cooked, when it's served and when the kitchen is accessed by the rest of the household?
Do you lay down the law and insist that the person with the eating disorder must comply with your scheduling and menu planning?
Those with lived experience - both as parents and carers, and as the person who experienced an eating disorder - share many and varied views on what works best, but one thing is for sure.....It is always of benefit to make sure you arm yourself with greater understanding and coping strategies.
Here’s some tips which may help you and your family:
1. Try as best you can to plan to eat together. Eating in isolation allows the eating disorder to win
2. Make mealtimes about togetherness, chat, humour and daily reflections, rather than always about food
3. Don’t allow the eating disorder (or person with it) to hugely disrupt what the family / household would normally have enjoyed eating at mealtimes
4. Ensure there is some sense of a plan around who will attend the meal and at what time. Those with an eating disorder will be affected hugely by last minute changes of plan
5. Neutral conversations are best – not focusing on weight or food
6. Resist the urge to assess what the person has on their plate or is doing with their food
7. Think about distraction options, like having a tv or radio on at the same time
8. Consider how to provide further distraction potential after a meal to help the person avoid bingeing and purging, like playing a game or doing a very short (not compulsive) walk
We would welcome hearing what has worked or not worked for you and your family.
Did you find it benefited you to have weekly 'mealtime mapping', in which you mutually discuss what meals will be served and what challenges these foods will include?
Was your recovery journey aided or worsened by sticking slavishly to a mealtime when you returned home from treatment?
Do share your experiences.
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- Jul 2022