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Listed below are articles written by Doctors, Therapists, Nutritionists, and others who have worked in the field related to Eating Disorders Awareness and Treatment. If you have an article you'd like to submit, please contact us to make arrangements to place it on the site with proper credit and referring information.

Eating Disorder Education:
Benefits for Parents and Teens

by: Joanna Poppink, M.F.C.C.

Sometimes parents are afraid that educational materials about eating disorders will stimulate an eating disorder in their teenager or give a teenager with an eating disorder encouragement to try new and different methods of acting out the disorder. Sometimes loving parents are afraid to know about eating disorders themselves. They may think that if they ignore the subject it will keep the disorder out of their lives.

While providing information is powerful, information about eating disorders will not cause an eating disorder to develop in a person. By the same token, people of any age suffering from an eating disorder will not be cured by information. They need treatment.

Eating Disorder educational programs can alert parents and children to the nature of eating disorders, the risks involved in acting out an eating disorder, how to recognize when they or someone they know needs help, and most importantly, how to get help.

Often early stages of an eating disorder go unrecognized by everyone, including the person with the disorder. Everyone eats. And there are many ways of eating and not eating that are socially sanctioned for particular occasions. For example, it's socially acceptable to eat junk food, even large quantities of it, at parties or at the movies. It's also socially acceptable to diet and try fad diets that might include fasting. It has become acceptable to acknowledge 'comfort foods' as means of coping with stress or disappointment such as chocolate or ice cream.

It would be very difficult to distinguish a newly forming bulimic from a non bulimic person when both are devouring lots of sweets and treats at a pajama party. It would be difficult to distinguish a newly forming anorexic from her friends when they are all experimenting with exotic diets and judging every aspect of their body as too fat. And the anorexic/bulimic who is first experimenting with vomiting, is usually quite happy at discovering a 'trick' to help her avoid the consequences of any food she eats at all.

Parents may be reassured to know that eating disorder education might bump into the consciousness of young people at an early stage of the disorder. A young girl might recognize herself as being on her way to having a serious disorder. If she knows there is supportive and caring help available, and she knows how to ask for it she has an opportunity to get some early healing. She has a chance of redirecting herself before the disorder advances to relationship destroying and life destroying levels.

Eating disorder education can help parents become less fearful and more understanding if their child does have an eating disorder. Parents can be empowered to lovingly and more confidently support the healing efforts required for their child to recover. With education and family support, the child may be more willing and capable of doing the necessary healing work.

Early education presented clearly and sensitively with regard to the developmental stage of the audience may provide a powerful way of waylaying an eating disorder, encouraging family cooperation and helping a child grow up healthy and free.

I welcome your questions or comments.
Joanna Poppink, M.F.C.C.
Psychotherapist in private practice
Los Angeles, CA
(310) 474-4165

©1999 Joanna Poppink, M.F.C.C. Reprinted with Permission.

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