Top 10 Eating Disorder FAQs

Hi and 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. An example of a high-risk environmental factor is weight loss or being underweight. 

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.

Family Based Treatment and/or:

– 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! On diagnosis, we always recommend supporting your loved one with Family Based Treatment as first-line evidence-based treatment for eating disorders. However, Eating Disorder help is readily available. ANZAED is a good place to find an eating disorder professional clinician.

Some sufferers 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’, the sufferer feels powerless to eat and often blinded as to the seriousness of their illness. Sufferers, 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.  Evidence shows that eating disorders can last an average of 2 to 8 years and beyond.  Early diagnosis and action are key to a shorter recovery time!

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, which operate in every state and territory and, during COVID, are being delivered monthly 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 sufferer with an eating disorder.

Become a member of EDFA for $25 per year (Australian Carers Only)

EDFA is a proud not for profit, predominantly volunteer run organisation. 

We invite you to be part of a revolutionary peer support group making positive changes in the Eating Disorder space. Strength in numbers means we are able to affect change and have the collective voice of the carers recognised.

We provide opportunities to connect with other parents and carers who share your experiences… helping you to feel less alone and isolated.

Yearly membership is just $25.

Membership gives access to:

 – Access to a range of resources in our Member Only section of the website including Educational Recordings, Member Recommended Clinicians and Services, and more.

 – Over 70 support groups and education sessions per year. including;

 – monthly state-based strive carer support groups

 – twice monthly education sessions

 – monthly sibling support group

 – monthly national strive ARFID carer support group

 – quarterly strive support groups for carers of people with  Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder, as well as a group for male carers

 – discounts to eating disorder events and conferences. 

 – daily online support through our strive Australia Facebook page and the opportunity to connect, share, learn and ask questions is another benefit of being part of our EDFA community.

Your membership helps EDFA with ongoing costs of running a not-for-profit organisation, and importantly, shows Government that families value, need and believe in this type of lived-experience support. Strength in numbers helps EDFA lobby as the collective voice of carers for  better services, treatments, access to expert clinicians and specialised ED units, to help our loved ones in their recovery journey and to acknowledge the impact of an eating disorder diagnosis on the entire family unit

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