Living with and supporting someone with an eating disorder can be extremely difficult. It can bring up many feelings of frustration, confusion, powerlessness, resentment, self-doubt, self-blame, and even anger. However, it is important to remember that eating disorders are never a choice. They are in fact a serious biologically influenced illness.
While there is no single cause for eating disorders, recent research highlights that genetic, psychological and social factors all play a part. Therefore, understanding eating disorders can be sometimes be extremely difficult for families to navigate. It can have an emotional and financial toll on every member of the family. Having an open and honest conversation about this very sensitive topic is the first step, but is important to approach it from a non-judgmental and non-shaming way.
Eating disorders are complex mental illnesses. They are treatable and full recovery is possible for everyone with the help of medical professionals. Parents are urged to remain patient, calm, considered and factual when supporting their young person. If you feel that your child or adolescent is developing an unhealthy relationship with either their food, weight or body, then early support is key and usually your general practitioner is the first port of call.
If you're worried that your young person may have an eating disorder, click here to access a useful online tool to highlight common warning signs.
Or should your young person feel the need to talk to someone, encourage them to call one of the following support services.
- Lifeline on 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland - available 24/7
- Youthline on 0800 376 633
- Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 - available 24/7
- Kidsline on 0800 543 754 - available 24/7