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.

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).

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!  Upon diagnosis, we always recommend supporting your loved one with Family Based Treatment as first-line evidence-based treatment for eating disorders.  

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 online sibling support groups in a safe environment and sibling resource packages for members.  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

EDFA is a proud not for profit, 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.

Members will receive a welcome pack, including information sheets, introductory discounts on selected Eating Disorder books, discounts to Eating Disorder conferences and events, free access to monthly statewide strive support groups, bi-monthly national education sessions and daily online peer support through the private strive FB groups.

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