Back to School!
As summer comes to a close, many of us are preparing to send our children back-to school. It’s common to experience “the jitters” as we adjust to a new daily routine, but that anxiety can be enhanced if you’re sending a loved one in the midst of eating disorder treatment to a college far from (or even close to!) home.
No matter how confident you and your child feel in their recovery, the unexpected changes of this transition can be triggering. To make matters more difficult, research has found that disordered eating tends to “increase during the first year of college and is predicted by prospective dietary restraint and concerns about weight gain.” Here are some tips to help you and your young adult understand and prepare for the challenges ahead:
- Meet with your treatment team and discuss your continuation of care. Remember that it’s easier to start with too much guidance and structure than to add it back in after getting off track.
- Discuss possible triggers so you’re not surprised if/when they show up. Develop coping mechanisms so you’re ready to handle these situations in a safe and healthy manner.
- Make time for self-care! Find some activities to help you handle stress, like meditation and journaling, hiking on a nearby trail, or attending yoga class.
- Work with your dietitian to discuss meal options. Make a plan for regular meals and snacks that nourish your body.
Eating disorder recovery must be maintained, particularly during major life changes like college. Taking these precautions ensures that your loved one can thrive during this new chapter in their life!
Frequently Asked Questions
What can you do to support a loved one with an eating disorder?
Learn as much as possible about eating disorders so you understand what you are dealing with. Educating yourself will help you know what questions to ask to choose the appropriate solutions-oriented treatment for your loved one.
What are some clues that your child could be struggling?
They may sit at the table with you and say they ate at a friend’s house or they will take dinner to their room. Other signs include — going to the bathroom often, especially after eating, excessive exercise, slipping grades, social isolation, behavior change, hair falling out, skin changes, sullenness, and food rituals.
How do we not neglect our other children?
Make a conscious choice that the eating disorder will not be in control of the household. Choose to make time for the other children, even if it means finding others to be with your ill child.