“My husband has no conception of it. He knows a little bit about that I had an eating disorder and that I’ve yo-yo dieted and things like that, but he really doesn’t understand the mental processes that go behind it, and the constantly being, I’m going to say obsessed.” ~ Ruby, mother of one.

Family and loved ones are an essential area of support for individuals who have an eating disorder or are in recovery from an eating disorder during pregnancy or postpartum. However, it can be challenging to know exactly how best to support your loved one. This page is designed to provide you with resources to help you navigate that complex relationship.

Talking with a person who has an eating disorder might look different than other conversations. For instance, using words that directly reference appearance can be triggering for those with eating disorders. It has been shown that women with eating disorders spend longer time focusing on words that deal with appearance in comparison to women who do not meet the criteria for an eating disorder (Myers, Ridolfi, & Crowther, 2015). Learn More

Conversations with People and Their Eating Disorder

Recognizing Body Shame & Fat Talk

By Elizabeth Claydon

Body shame comes in so many forms and can manifest itself internally or externally. With the many nuances involved in body shame, I thought it time that it was broken down into a more easily-understood graphic depicted above. Learn More

Many women who are recovering from an eating disorder or still have an eating disorder are very concerned about their children picking up on their behaviors or modeling their eating. Additionally, given the complicated relationship that someone has with food whether they have an eating disorder or are recovered from one, it is challenging to figure out how best to talk about eating and weight with children. Learn More

Creating a healthy relationship with food for your child

Weight Gain Distribution

Weight gain and body shape changes can be very daunting during pregnancy especially for women who have an eating disorder or eating disorder history. However, it can be helpful to understand how the weight is attributed to the baby and how it is distributed. Being able to connect that weight gain specifically to the baby or pregnancy components can help the woman reframe the weight gain positively. Learn More

It can be frightening when you are confronted with the possibility your loved one or family member has an eating disorder. However, it is important to remember that they are probably frightened too, and that this is when they will need you the most. The following recommendations are related to how to help for eating disorders in general and then a few specific to eating disorders and pregnancy. Learn More

How to help a loved one

Relevant Blog Posts

Terminology for Mental Health Professionals

Terminology for Mental Health Professionals

Terminology for Mental Health Professionals

By Hattie Rowe
West Virginia University

As medical knowledge increases, so does responsibility. We are continually enlightened of more sensitive ways to approach conversations with patients. People with eating disorders can be sensitive to others and the vocabulary directed towards them (Kuipers, G., den Hollander, S., van der Ark, L.A., & Bekker, M. 2017). Research has shown that people who have eating disorders focus more on appearance-related words (Myers, Ridolfi, & Crowther, 2015). Staying up-to-date on positive and person-oriented terminology for patients is a responsibility for all who work with individuals who have eating disorders.

The following terms have been proposed by researchers and professionals as more appropriate terms to use in conversation with patients who have eating disorders.

References:

Kuipers, G. S., den Hollander, S., van der Ark, L. A., & Bekker, M. H. J. (2017). Recovery from eating disorder 1 year after start of treatment is related to better mentalization and strong reduction of sensitivity to others. Eating and Weight Disorders, 22, 535–547. doi: 10.1007/s40519-017-0405-x

Lilienfeld, S.O., Sauvigne, K.C., Lynn, S.J., Cautin, R.L., Latzman, R.D., Waldman, I.D. Fifty psychological and psychiatric terms to avoid: A list of inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases. Frontiers in Psychology. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01100

Media Resources. Retrieved from https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/media-resources/

Myers, T. A., Ridolfi, D. R., & Crowther, J. H. (2015). Reaction times to appearance-related or non-appearance-related word choice among women with and without eating psychopathology. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 39, 204–214.
doi: 10.1007/s10608-014-9653-5

Nielsen, E., Padmanathan, P., and Knipe, D. (2016) Commit* to change? A call to end the publication of the phrase ‘commit* suicide’. Wellcome Open Research, 1:2.
doi: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.10333.1

Puhl, R. M., Peterson J. L., Luedicke J. (2013) Motivating or stigmatizing? Public perceptions of weight-related language used by health providers. International Journal of Obesity. 37: 612-9. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.110

Spencer-Thomas, S. (2018). Language matters: Why we don’t say “Committed suicide”. International Risk Management Institute, INC.
Retrieved from https://www.irmi.com/articles/expert-commentary/language-matters- committed-suicide

Weissman, R. S., Becker, A. E., Bulik, C. M., Frank, G. K. W., Klump, K. L., Steiger, H., … Walsh, B. T. (2016). Speaking of that: Terms to avoid or reconsider in the eating disorders field. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 49, 349–353.
doi: 10.1002/eat.22528

Options for Weighing

Options for Weighing

Options for Weighing

Since weight and body image concerns are areas of concern for pregnant and postpartum women with eating disorders, it’s important to know the options around weighing whether you’re a patient or a clinician. Clinicians make these decisions around weighing on a case-by-case basis or have a conversation about weighing preferences at an early prenatal appointment. Patients may want to review this list to determine what options they feel most comfortable with and then engage their clinician in a conversation about their preference. (more…)

Weight Gain Distribution

Weight Gain Distribution

Weight Gain Distribution

Weight gain and body shape changes can be very daunting during pregnancy especially for women who have an eating disorder or eating disorder history. However, it can be helpful to understand how the weight is attributed to the baby and how it is distributed. Being able to connect that weight gain specifically to the baby or pregnancy components can help the woman reframe the weight gain positively. (more…)

Shifting the Eating Disorder Voice During Pregnancy

Shifting the Eating Disorder Voice During Pregnancy

Shifting the Eating Disorder Voice During Pregnancy

By Hattie Rowe
West Virginia University

Major changes in life can be stressful for anyone. But for women who have struggled with eating disorders, adapting to changes may look more difficult. People who suffer from an eating disorder have unhealthy coping strategies related to their body. Whether these life changes induce stress or excitement, adjusting to something new can elicit anxiety at the unknown. (more…)

Family & Loved Ones Quotes (all names are pseudonyms to protect the women’s real identities)

My husband has no conception of it. He knows a little bit about that I had an eating disorder and that I’ve yo-yo dieted and things like that, but he really doesn’t understand the mental processes that go behind it, and the constantly being, I’m going to say obsessed.

~ Ruby, mother of one

I even told my mom, like you will never say that to my daughter. Ever. I do not want you saying anything like that to her. My mom, even to this day, still makes comments like, “Well, it’s a good thing she’s a skinny baby because she could be more active that way.” It’s like, you know, she’s got fat cheeks, she’s got fat thighs now, I’m happy.

~ Ruby

Fortunately, my husband, when they were second grade and third grade, my husband, because I was making like bizarre food. He completely took over food. He brought in chips. He normalized food for my girls. I think that probably saved them, considering that my own biological mother had an eating disorder and then I did. I had one.

~ Ann

Watch a webinar from the National Eating Disorder Association