Wendy & Casey, RD, CSSD, CEDRD-S
It can be helpful to brainstorm with your child and other family members what conversation topics are positive to talk about and
which ones to avoid. This helps the home become a place of serenity in the face of an eating disorder—a safe zone, protected from the messages your child and your family are inundated with in the outside world. This will also give your family a chance to talk about other things: politics, sports, school, and friends (swipe for some ideas)! For that reason, it can be helpful for you and your family to decide on ground rules for family-time conversation.
Mealtime is typically chaotic and stressful for a child with an eating disorder, so it is especially important to avoid talking about weight, shape, and body image during meals. Again, such comments create tension and stress, and remind your child about their desire to want to lose weight and eat less.
Positive food talk, such as saying how yummy something tastes, is generally safe to say and models “normal” eating. However, negative food talk should be discouraged at the table and beyond. Remarking on how “fatty the steak is” will only make the meal
harder for your child. Other seemingly harmless comments like “Oh, I’m so full!” or “That dessert looks delicious, but I really shouldn’t” should be avoided entirely. It is helpful to imagine how your words will fall onto your child’s ears. And if there is a question about whether they can hear what you’re about to say, don’t say it. Again, silence is golden here.
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