Welcome to EDFA. We provide eating disorder help for parents and carers for every stage of their eating disorder journey. Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions about eating disorders. 

Have a question that’s not here? Get in touch…we’d love to help.

Feed Your Instinct (FYI) is an interactive tool designed to support parents of children and young people experiencing different types of eating and/or body image problems. Fill out the questionnaire, print out the results and take to your GP. 

Possible signs of an eating disorder: pre-occupation with food, weight and cooking, lying about foods eaten, over-exercising, vomiting after eating, uncontrollable over-eating, food hoarding, avoiding social events which involve food/eating, mood swings, anxiety, depression and irritability, weight and mirror checking, complaints of being fat, trouble concentrating, feeling consistently cold, weak or light headed, cessation of periods in females, laxative abuse.

If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, and need eating disorder help, contact your GP, or ANZAED for an eating disorder professional clinician.

Parents do not cause eating disorders…however, they are needed to be part of the solution for recovery. It has often been said that genes load the gun and environment pulls the trigger. Genes, traits and temperament do not, by themselves, make eating disorders happen, but they make it more likely if the environment interacts in such a way as to switch on those gene functions. 

Need eating disorder help?

A GP with ED experience is your first point of contact and will check observations, weight and mental health. Your GP will manage the team: psychologist/counsellor, psychiatrist, dietician, coach etc. Medical complications due to starvation can include serious and even life-threatening problems such as:
 – Dehydration
 – Low blood glucose levels
 – Anaemia (lack of red blood cells)
 – Low blood pressure
 – An extremely slow or irregular heartbeat
 – Low white blood cell count (which reduces your ability to fight infection)
 – Liver and kidney problems
 – Changes in the structure of the brain
 – Osteoporosis (weak, porous bones that break easily and heal slowly)
 – Constipation or abdominal (gastric) distress
 – If you are female, your periods may stop (or not start).

If you suspect your child has an eating disorder, and need eating disorder help, contact your GP, or ANZED for an eating disorder professional clinician.

Treatment options should be discussed with your health professional to find what’s best for you. Common treatments for eating disorders include:

 – Family Based Treatment

– PFT (Parent Focused Treatment)

– TBT-S (Temperament Based Therapy with Supports)

– CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)

– DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy)

– EFFT (Emotion Focused Family Therapy)

– IPT (Interpersonal Therapy)

– Psychodynamic Psychotherapy.

There is no one answer to this! We recommend working with your treatment team to use evidence-based treatments to help support your loved one to eat.

Some people with eating disorders will need a clinical day program or hospital treatment. Other treatments can be effective for sufferers who are further along in their journey and/or if their illness has become chronic.

When the ED mindset becomes stronger than the ‘healthy self’, people with eating disorders feel powerless to eat and are often blinded as to the seriousness of their illness. Both the person with the eating disorder, parents and carers all need eating disorder help.

Parents and carers can be pivotal in helping their loved ones push forward in their recovery by supporting them in their prescribed treatment modality.  

In addition to carer support, nutrition and medical treatment, to recover and stay well, sufferers must also make changes in their thinking and behaviour. Psychological treatment is an essential part of treatment for everyone with an eating disorder. It provides a chance to find out what triggers a person’s eating problems and to work out how to deal with them.

Have a look at our Top 30 eating disorders member-recommended books here.

Every recovery journey is different. Eating disorders can last for many years

EDFA helps support siblings by offering monthly online sibling support groups in a safe environment. Watching a sibling disappear due to an eating disorder can leave children feeling helpless, scared, angry, guilty, lonely and sad. Siblings may develop behavioural issues, withdrawal, anxiety, depression and long-term mental health issues. Validating how difficult things are for siblings, checking in on them and having one-on-one time just for them can help them manage the tough times.  Giving siblings resources can show them they are not alone and their feelings matter.  Counselling or therapy can be helpful to give siblings the skills to cope.

 Caring for a loved one with an eating disorder can be an exhausting, overwhelming, isolating, devastating, frightening and frustrating journey.   

EDFA provides eating disorder help….online support for parents and carers for the long haul through its strive carer support groups – these are being delivered three times a month via Zoom, led by trained volunteer facilitators with lived experience. strive stands for Support, Teach, Reassure, Inform, Validate and Empower.  

strive carer support group meetings provide a safe environment in which parents and carers can connect, learn, share and support each other.  EDFA also provides closed and moderated EDFA strive Facebook pages in each state and territory of Australia, in a safe and supportive online environment.   Parents and carers of people with eating disorders can connect, share information and experiences, learn and feel validated, supported and less alone.  Self-care, lived-experience peer support and additional psychological support can be valuable for carers to be able to go the distance in caring for a loved one with an eating disorder.