Support groups for people with an eating disorder

The National Eating Disorders Association is a non-profit organization that supports individuals and families affected by eating disorders. They work to spread awareness about the illness through education, and also teach prevention strategies to parents of at-risk children and adolescents. The organization campaigns for better access to quality mental health treatment for people with eating disorders. Their established hotline can serve as a resource for families trying to encourage a loved one to enter treatment. It can also be helpful to patients who are currently undergoing treatment and need assistance. Call them at 1-800-931-2237 or visit their website at http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.

The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) was established as a resource for patients and family members seeking help with an eating disorder. The ANAD can help people with an eating disorder connect to support groups, find outpatient treatment centers, and assist in finding a psychiatrist, therapist, and dietitian. They may be helpful if you need to find and vet inpatient or residential treatment facilities. Call them at (847) 831-3438, or visit their website at http://www.anad.org.

The work of the Academy for Eating Disorders (AED) centers on research. Their goal is to find and implement the latest effective treatments for people with eating disorders. They also provide an array of resources, videos, and information to help families dealing with an eating disorder. The AED can also help connect people with professionals who may be able to help with treatment. Call them at (847) 498-4274 or visit their website at http://www.aedweb.org.

What self-support techniques can aid recovery from an eating disorder?

Professional treatment can help you learn and practice the following coping skills:

Acknowledge your weaknesses. A history of disordered eating behaviors can leave a person unable to accurately judge whether or not they have a problem. They may also not be able to determine if they are at a healthy weight. Learning to trust your doctor or another support figure can help you understand where you are with improving your physical health and reaching a healthier weight.

Boost your self-esteem. Invest yourself in activities that interest you. These activities are often rewarding and fulfilling. These activities may include becoming involved in a social group or charity organization. They may also include learning a new skill or going back to something you once enjoyed.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Avoid things that may trigger negative feelings about your body. Social and media portrayals of what’s considered physically attractive may encourage disordered behaviors.

Stick to the plan. Even if you’re not feeling hungry, resist the urge to skip a meal. The same is true for a therapy session. Sticking to the plan will help you avoid slipping back into unhealthy behaviors.

Don’t surround yourself with people or groups that encourage unhealthy behaviors. If your circle of friends does not understand the problems you face, or if they engage in similarly unhealthy behaviors, they may not be the best source of support as you try to heal. The same is true for websites or groups that advocate or glorify eating disorders, which can trigger unhealthy behaviors and set you back in your recovery process.

Identify troublesome scenarios. During talks with your therapist, you can identify situations that are more likely to spur unhealthy thoughts behaviors. You can develop a plan of action if you find yourself in those situations.

Seek out positive role models. Many people who struggle with eating disorders have been able to rise above the illness to live healthy, normal lives. These are the people you should aspire to be, not people who represent unhealthy images of what people “should” look like.