Family Life: How Eating Disorders Change Everything

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are not only physically demanding they also can negatively affect your social life and emotional well-being. Setting unrealistic standards or feeling depressed and lonely are common factors associated with an eating disorder. There are a number of known eating disorders; the three most common types are:

  1. Anorexia nervosa – those with anorexia restrict the amount of food they eat, sometimes eating nothing at all.
  2. Binge eating – those with binge eating disorder consume large amounts of food in a typically short period of time.
  3. Bulimia nervosa – those with bulimia consume what are often high calorie foods and then proceed to purge (vomit) what they have eaten.

Eating disorders can be very disruptive, not only to the person struggling with the disorder, but also to friends and family members. When someone has an eating disorder, it can become easy (for parents especially) to forget about the other important people in life and focus all of their energy and attention on the eating disordered person.

An eating disorder is a very important condition to treat, but it should not put a permanent hold on your life. It is very important for family members to find a healthy balance between caring for their eating disordered child, sibling, parent, or wife and living their own lives. If one of these two things is given too much attention, something or someone will be neglected, causing an already stressful situation to worsen. When eating disorders begin to affect not only the life of the eating disordered person, but also those around them, eating disorder treatment at an eating disorder treatment clinic is even more important to find.

Families and Eating Disorder Development

Many people blame a person’s family environment for the onset of an eating disorder. It is true that the family plays a very important role in the physical and psychological development of a child. Values that have been emphasized in the family, affect how a person learns to think of themselves. Eating disorder treatment at an eating disorder treatment center can be very helpful in improving overall well-being and self-esteem in a person.

No family sets out to build an atmosphere that encourages eating disorders; however, some families may provide this type of atmosphere more than others. Even among a family in which healthy eating is encouraged, eating disorders still take place. Families that follow strict eating rituals, rarely eat together, or constantly eat out, provide some of the unhealthiest environments to grow up in.

Parents that demonstrate poor coping methods or hinder their children from expressing their emotions may indirectly contribute to the onset of an eating disorder. Also, mothers who complain about their own weight or appearance or who criticize the looks of other people set a poor example of a healthy body image to their children, especially young girls.

While it is true that a person’s family and the atmosphere in which they live influences them a great deal, it certainly is not the only factor contributing to an eating disorder among a family member. Therapy offered at eating disorder treatment clinics addresses the underlying causes of a person’s eating disorder and helps them to sort out various stresses in life.

How are Eating Disorders Caused?

In what specific ways do parents and other family members inadvertently contribute to the onset of an eating disorder? The following are a few examples which may take place:

  • Constant exposure to dieting
  • A parent’s rude comments directed toward those with imperfect body types
  • Sexual abuse
  • Overwhelming responsibility placed on the child (e.g. emotionally supporting the parent)
  • Divorce or a bad relationship among the parents
  • Focus on healthy eating, banning of unhealthy foods
  • Criticism of physical appearance
  • Frequent television, internet, and other forms of media exposure
  • Lack of affection
  • Expectation of perfectionist behavior

In addition to each of these potential circumstances, eating disorders may result from certain genes inherited by our parents. Also, if a close family member suffers from an eating disorder, the chances of another family member obtaining an eating disorder grow much higher. If you or your loved one suffers from an eating disorder, seek eating disorder treatment at one of the many eating disorder residential centers available.

How Eating Disorders Change Families

When a member of the family develops an eating disorder, the dynamics of the entire family are thrown off balance. Emotions that may be felt are common to have but may cause additional stress in the home. The following are a few emotions that family members may experience when an eating disorder is present.

  • Overprotection
  • Guilt
  • Annoyance
  • Worry
  • Disappointment
  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Denial
  • Confusion

Family Therapy

Family therapy offered at an eating disorder treatment center is often very useful in helping a family properly support an eating disordered member. During family therapy sessions, a therapist will often show the family members how to specifically deal with the disruptions caused by the eating disorder and teach them more about the disorder.

Dysfunction among the family is another key component addressed at family therapy. Forming solutions and determining roles in the home may help to relieve this dysfunction and ease the stress brought into the home through the eating disorder. If you attend eating disorder treatment at a bulimia help center, anorexia nervosa treatment center, or another type of eating disorder treatment clinic, family therapy is often provided in addition to other therapy types.


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2 Responses to “Family Life: How Eating Disorders Change Everything”

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    Hi there! This blog post could not be written any better!

    Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept preaching about this. I am going to forward this article
    to him. Pretty sure he’s going to have a good read. Thank you for sharing!