As parents, we do everything that we can to keep our children safe and healthy. We make every effort to provide them with the life that they deserve and will allow them to grow and flourish into successful adulthood. Despite our best efforts, our children will experience their own lives, thoughts, and feelings. They will have their own challenges and make their own decisions. It is an unfortunate fact that when many parents discover that their daughter is suffering from an eating disorder, they immediately blame themselves. I should have done something different, I should have seen the signs. Should I have been a better parent? Eating disorders are very complex and are often hard to identify.

Eating disorders are triggered by many different things and no two people are the same, no two eating disorder stories are the same. Join us today as we review some of the things that you can do to help your daughter from developing an eating disorder.

1. Understand Eating Disorders

Adolescents often use eating disorder behaviors as unhealthy coping mechanisms. It’s usually related to attachment issues or possible trauma. The important thing is to seek help from a professional if you think your daughter may have an unhealthy relationship with food.

Another important part of understanding eating disorders is to understand that withholding or limiting intake (anorexia) and binging and purging (bulimia) are not the only eating disorders that your daughter may suffer from. Overeating, constant focus on intake, and a deep emotional attachment to eating are other forms. Vegetarianism and veganism, while not eating disorders, can lead to the limiting intake that has the potential to become an eating disorder. Focusing on caloric intake and refusing to eat certain types of food, to the point of extreme compulsiveness is also indicative of an eating disorder. Learn all about the different signs of an eating disorder here.

2. Practice Open and Honest Communication

Again, it is important to understand that a lack of communication is not likely the reason that your daughter is at risk for developing an eating disorder. However, keeping open, honest lines of communication open between you and your daughter may help her confide in you more and allow you warning signs or signals before her fixations become a disorder. Listen for subtle cues of distress that may indicate ulterior motives behind their actions, and investigate if something seems off.

As parents, we know you do the best to raise your child and will find it difficult not to take the blame and try to figure out what you did or did not do that led your daughter to an eating disorder. But, remember this is not about you, it is about your daughter and now is the time to get her help and support her in her recovery. Contact us at Canopy Cove for more information about helping your daughter recover from an eating disorder.

Stay tuned for part two of this two-part series.