The Eating Disorder Recovery Podcast

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August 28, 2016  

JD Ouellette on Parenting a Child Through an Eating Disorder — Part Two

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Parenting a Child Through an Eating Disorder

This podcast is the second part from my conversation with inspiring Eating Disorder Advocate JD Ouellette on resources available and lessons leant from parenting a child through an eating disorder.

JD’s daughter became ill with Anorexia at age 17, and Family Based Therapy was a crucial part of her recovery. In this episode, we delve more into the dangers and complications that speciality diets pose to the recovering sufferer, the role of the entire family and the importance in getting Dads involved in treatment, and so much more … including chickens!

Follow @JugglingJenn on Twitter.

Topics discussed in this podcast:

  • FBT (Family Based Therapy) resources and methods
  • Online help for parents and where to go to learn more
  • Understanding eating disorder behaviour in your child
  • How parents can prepare mentally to treat a child with an Eating Disorder.
  • The role of families in Eating Disorder Treatment.
  • What to look out for if you suspect your child is suffering from an eating disorder
  • Vegan diets and Eating Disorders
  • Dangers associated with recovered sufferers acting as Eating Disorder Therapists
  • The importance of Eating Disorder Advocacy and Storytelling

Links to resources mentioned in this podcast:

FEAST

USCD Eating Disorder Center for Treatment and Research 

ED Bites by Carrie Arnold

Laura Hill’s TED Talk

The Venus Fly Trap and the Land Mine: Novel Tools for Eating Disorder Treatment

Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown

August 21, 2016  

JD Ouellette on Parenting a Child Through an Eating Disorder — Part One

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Parenting a Child Through an Eating Disorder

 

This podcast features inspiring Eating Disorder Advocate JD Ouellette on parenting a child through an eating disorder.

We discuss resources available and lessons leant from parenting a child through an eating disorder. JD’s daughter became ill with Anorexia at age 17, and Family Based Therapy was a crucial part of her recovery.

Topics discussed in this podcast:

  • FBT (Family Based Therapy) resources and methods
  • Online help for parents
  • Understanding eating disorder behavour
  • UCSD Eating Disorder Resources

Follow @JugglingJenn on Twitter.


Links to resources mentioned in this podcast:

FEAST

USCD Eating Disorder Center for Treatment and Research 

ED Bites by Carrie Arnold

Laura Hill’s TED Talk

The Venus Fly Trap and the Land Mine: Novel Tools for Eating Disorder Treatment

Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown

August 14, 2016  

Using Fear and Stress Management Techniques to Recover from Anorexia

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I explained in the last podcast how I used information from the FEAST website on Family-Based Therapy to kick start my own inner mealtime matron. That was probably the single biggest initiative for me in my recovery — establishing that my eating disorder was not “me”, which let to being able to foster a healthy hate of Anorexia, and develop an inner voice ordering me to eat.

But that is not the whole story. Eating disorders are dreadfully multi-faceted, so recovery tools and approaches have to be so also.

In this post, I’m going to explain how I used knowledge about the parts of my brain that control fear, to overcome the fight-flight response to eating.

I explain how I used research into phobias, fear, stress, and techniques to overcome the stress fight-or-flight response to understand what was going on in my brain to cause me to have such a fear response to food.

 

Remember, you can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes and Google Play so that you get each episode automatically. If you have an idea for a topic you would like me to discuss, then email me or reach out on twitter. @Love_Fat_

August 7, 2016  

How Family-Based Therapy Helped this Adult Recover from Anorexia

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Last week I recorded a podcast with Dr. Lauren Muhlheim on the subject of adults with eating disorders. We touch on Family -Based Therapy there. You can listen to the podcast here, and in this post I will be referencing it.

PSA: This episode contains a swear word! Listen at your own risk 😉 

About halfway through the conversation we get to talking about Family-Based Therapy (FBT) and the role that this evidence-based form of treatment that is usually used with children has in treating adult sufferers of eating disorders. Lauren asked me about my own story about using FBT to recover, and I tell a little, but I wanted to elaborate on that here.

Before I say anything more, I need to make it clear that treating ones own self for a serious mental illness is not optimal. I was desperate and I had no other resources. The whole point of advocacy in the eating disorders world is to push for resources to be available for people with eating disorders so they don’t have to self treat. That said, the principles that I applied to my own recovery can help you even if you are receiving professional treatment elsewhere — at least that my opinion. Remember, I am not a professional, I am just someone who worked out on my own how to treat my own Anorexia.

Family-Based TherapySo here’s my story:

I’d been suffering Anorexia for almost ten years, but I had only just began to understand that I had an eating disorder. Anorexia is particularly nefarious in they way that it disguises itself as the sufferers own thoughts and will. The nature of the disease is to not allow the sufferer to know there is a problem, but that’s another story in itself.

So, at this point I understand I have an ED, and I am starting to look for help, and all I can find are psychoanalytical approaches that tell me I must have been abused as a child, or I must absolutely hate myself, or for whatever underlying and hidden reason I am actually doing this to myself in order to gain control on my life of whatever. Bull Shit.

I knew even then that I wasn’t doing anything to myself, and I had begun to mistrust the thoughts in my head telling me not to eat and to exercise more. I had also begun to distrust the fight-or-flight response I had been having towards food for so many years. Long story short, I knew that something was up with my brain, and that whatever it was was not my doing — consciously or subconsciously.

So I start Googling eating disorders. And I come across this FEAST website that is a resource for parents of children with EDs. On that website is a forum, and I create a username and start reading. Fuck. I mean. Fuck. The stuff on that site. You’ve got parents who are terrified and watching their own children starve to death. You’ve got parents who have lost children to ED. You have parents who have successfully used Family-Based Therapy to treat a child with an ED, and you have everything in between. The anonymous nature of the forum means that this is a place where parents don’t need to hold back. They can openly grieve, rage, and unleash their frustration at their child’s illness. It’s raw.

I read a lot. Initially when I read about FBT and the process of practically force feeding children who are at risk of starving to death my own eating disorder had a fit. It told me that was cruel. But a part of me knew it wasn’t. A part of me knew it was the only thing that was going to help these children in the long run. As I continued to read about the horrific mealtime tantrums that these parents were dealing with six times a day every day I could see both sides: I was the child, but I was also the adult wanting the child to get better.

Those days reading FEAST taught me the following:

  1. I understood that a parent could love their child but simultaneously hate their child’s eating disorder. This planted the seed for me that the two things were separate.

    Much of the parent-to-parent support for parents new to Family-Based Therapy was teaching that parent that the tantrums that were directed at them every mealtime was not thier child — the tantrums were the disease. In order to not allow those tantrums to rip them apart and make them think that their own child hated them, it was crucial that they understood it was the disease talking and not the child.

    TL;DR: It is okay to hate the eating disorder. The ED is not your child. You can hate the ED and still love your child.

  2. You can hate your eating disorder and still love yourself.

    Huge. This single realisation was the biggest turning point for me. As I read the hate-rage towards EDs that the parents on this FEAST forum had I absorbed it. I recognised all those ED behaviours in my own self and I was able to HATE them. Because the forum had taught me that my ED was not me, I as at full license to hate it.

    I cannot stress this enough: I had to allow myself to hate my eating disorder in order to find the energy and motivation to get rid of it.

  3. Learning about how Family-Based Therapy is used to treat children I was able to take the framework and apply it to my own self.

    Life stops until you eat. I would make myself sit at the table and tell myself you are not leaving until you have eaten it all. Even if it takes hours. No matter what else you had planned to do today, you don’t get to do any of it until you have eaten this meal.

    Was it easy? Fuck no.

    Many a time I slammed my chair back and left that table with food still on my plate, but I only got a couple of feet out of the kitchen before the “FBT voice” said: If you leave that food Anorexia has won. I hate Anorexia right, so that thought of letting it win would send me straight back to the table to eat the rest.

  4. Food is medicine.

    FEAST drummed this into me. I think that it’s tattooed onto some part of my brain somewhere. I still think it every day for good measure. I made that my moto. I made it my mantra. I repeated it over and over to drown out the ED voice telling me to obsess over calories or exercise.

    After some time, I turned that into “Fat is Medicine” in an attempt to help myself redefine my more feared nutrient in my head — and that is what lead me to the book that I wrote: Love Fat.

Not ideal. Sometimes I wonder how on earth I did that. How the fuck did I fight my own mental disorder?

But I did. Treatment from an ED professional who knows the score is optimal for recovery, as nobody should have to do it they way that I did. But my story can be used for adults who want to continue their own treatment once the initial help has been given. Know that your ED is not you. Find a healthy hate for your ED and a passion to get rid of it. Know that every single mouthful of food is a win for you. Equally know that every plate that you walk away from is a win for your ED. Be brutal with yourself if you have to do that in order not to let your ED win. Ever.

Your ED is not you.

Food is medicine.

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