Eating disorder recovery is incredibly complex and challenging because eating disorders thrive in isolation. A huge step in the recovery process is being able to discuss your concerns about your relationship with food and body openly. However, this is a lot easier said than done.
Many of our clients come to us and have kept their struggle a secret for so long. They have even been praised for their disordered behaviors (thanks a lot, diet culture), which has made speaking out even more difficult.
If you have been on the fence about discussing this with your parents or loved ones, we understand. Being open about your eating disorder can finally make the idea of recovery feel “real” and it is incredibly difficult to think about *truly* stepping away from your eating disorder behaviors.
While we are able to recognize the negative impact it has, the eating disorder, for many, has served a specific purpose necessary for survival. However, although it has served a purpose, it's important to remember that engaging in disordered behaviors do not have the be the only way you navigate life. Through consistent recovery-focused work, you may find that there are several other skills that ultimately lead to a happy, fulfilled life.
We want to be able to support you as you navigate eating disorder recovery. And, remember, our team at NourishRX is always here to help you in a more personalized way with our 1:1 nutrition counseling. Let’s dive in below.
How to Talk to Your Parents About Eating Disorder Recovery
write it out
This is an incredibly important topic that we are sure you have many thoughts on. Especially if this is the first time you are talking about eating disorder recovery with others it makes sense to get down exactly what you want to say. Remember, this is your recovery process and you are in charge of disclosing what you are comfortable with. However, we always tell our clients that meaningful recovery starts with honesty (to ourselves and others).
Some journal prompts to potentially think about are:
- What are my behaviors that are disordered? Have these changed over time?
- What is the timeline of my eating disorder? When did the behaviors start? Creating a timeline can be helpful for you to track how long you have been struggling.
- Why am I thinking about telling others? How is my eating disorder impacting my life?
- Is there anything that I am not ready to disclose?
- What have I already started to do to further my recovery?
- How do I feel that my parents or loved ones could support me in my recovery?
- Many times people do not know how to respond when faced with eating disorder behaviors. If you are able to vocalize what you are needing in recovery it can help them to know how they are able to support you. And it’s okay if you do NOT know exactly what you need. Our recommendation would be vocalizing that you need more support and finding eating disorder specialized providers to give more concrete, clear recommendations. Remember - you do not have to do this on your own.
Again, if this is the first time you are talking about your private eating disorder thoughts and behaviors it may make sense to practice what you have written down. This allows you to shake out some nerves and ensure you are able to convey exactly what you would like to say.
find a comfortable time and place
Choose a space and time that is comfortable for you. Ensure that you are in a space that you are able to talk freely without feeling nervous about distractions or others around you. Additionally, ensure that both you and your loved ones are feeling level headed and are currently in the headspace to have a conversation about eating disorder recovery. We suggest not choosing a time when you are fighting or in periods of heightened stress as this may impact how you convey the information and their response.
have planned self care
Telling others something so personal is scary and stressful. We suggest having something prepared before and after for yourself that is more of a recovery-aligned coping skill. You could try: listening to a podcast or your favorite playlist on the way there; having a manicure/pedicure or massage lined up afterwards; or calling a trusted friend to talk about life.
Eating disorder behaviors tend to rear their ugly heads in periods of high stress or transition OR when they feel threatened. Preparing for a potential increase in intrusive thoughts or urges and working to combat them with more recovery-aligned coping strategies can be extremely helpful.
With all of this in mind - we have included a potential script for you to use when talking with your loved ones. Feel free to insert or change whatever does not feel applicable for you:
Hey [insert name here], thank you for taking the time to talk with me. This is something that has been hard for me to be able to tell you so I hope you can bear with me while I talk about the details and then I can answer any questions you may have.
I have been struggling with an eating disorder for [insert timeline] and feel like it’s something I need to tell you about. [If comfortable] I struggle with [insert behaviors here] and have realized that this is something that has been detrimental to my health [insert any other reasons for wanting to change/stop behaviors].
I have started to work with [insert treatment team members] OR I have been looking into starting treatment with [insert treatment team members you would like to start with].
I know this may be a lot to process but it would mean the world to me if you could [insert ways they could support you - some suggestions could be: help me contact providers, support me at meal times, etc]. Are there any questions I could answer for you?
Remember, everyone’s recovery is different. You have the lived experience to know who may be the best support for you as you work to navigate your eating disorder recovery. We recommend finding at least one person who would be the best support and trailing this conversation with them. From there, and as you work to build your treatment team, you can start expanding who knows about your recovery when you are ready.
Eating disorders are so wildly misunderstood and underrepresented in our society that it does not come as a surprise to our team that many families and friends do not know the best next step to support their loved one. That’s where we come into play. Allow us to help support you in providing education, support and next steps to the people who matter most to you. So you can focus on yourself and YOUR best next steps. If you are looking for immediate resources for families and loved ones, check out this page to learn more.