Separating Yourself From Your Parents In ED Recovery

Family based therapy seems to be a huge trend right now in eating disorder recovery and treatment. My treatment plan that I received from the ERC is family based. When I see my physiatrist, my mom joins in. My parents are supposed to be doing all of my portioning. My parents and I meet for family therapy. And while this might work wonders for some adolescents, I have noticed that this whole “family approach” definitely has had some major drawbacks.
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For me, I noticed that I began to recover for my parents. After following this mindset for a year or so, I realized that this quasi-recovery state was not maintainable nor was it healthy. Yes, I was eating my meal plan and maintaining a healthy weight. But at some point, I will have to recover for myself.

Screen shot 2015-08-03 at 8.24.40 AMAt some point, I want to be an independent and functional adult. In order to do this, I need to learn how to eat for my body and my energy, not to please anyone else. While I am still trying to figure out how to recover for myself and eat for my body and my enjoyment, I have made some progress and thought I would share some tips.

  1. Ask your parents if you can make dinner for your family. Try challenging yourself and make a meal that sounds good and fun. Listen to your thoughts as you make the food and try to not restrict foods or adjust recipes to make them “safer”.
  2. Get outside of the house more and see your friends! Challenging myself to more spontaneous activities and meals can be anxiety-provoking, but each time it makes me a little bit stronger.
  3. Get away from your family for a week or so. In July, I went to Georgia for a summer camp all by myself. This was a great way to challenge myself because I was on my own and could have “gotten away” with more eating disorder behaviors than I would have at home. This was a great challenge, especially for those who are thinking about going off to college or living on their own soon.
  4. Tell your parents that you are feeling this way. They do not want to baby you and will probably respond well. Especially if you have been in recovery for a while, they will probably be supportive of your freedom.

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I know it’s scary to take more charge of your recovery. It can increase your guilty feelings because instead of just “eating because you have to” you are “eating because you deserve it”.

Have you ever felt like you are eating simply for your parents? How do you eat for yourself?


8 thoughts on “Separating Yourself From Your Parents In ED Recovery

  1. This is a great post and something I struggled a lot with my first time in recovery. I felt like I needed my mom there all the time right beside me. It took me moving out for a few years to finally start to learn how to do things for me and not to please others.

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  2. Em, great post! I can relate to a lot of what you wrote. There are many times where I feel like I am just eating for my parents. While this may be ok at a certain stage of recovery, it is not maintainable. Eventually you need to be able to love and value yourself enough to recover for you. I think the steps and suggestions in your post are great and really helpful. For me, I kind of feel it out. If I’m not feeling confident in my recovery or having a day with a lot of thoughts, I will utilize my family’s help and support. If I am feeling good and like I want to recover for me, I will try to be more independent. 😊 thanks for sharing this with us! 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I so agree. I feel like eating for whatever reason you have at first is great, but once you’ve been at it for a while, you realize that it’s not maintainable to just eat for outside influences. Thanks for your advice ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I totally agree with you Em. I think the helicopter parents can be a hindrance in recovery. You learn to resent them and never learn how to do things yourself. I think when parents have the control, Ed gets really sneaky and good at lying. The combination of teenage rebellion (normal) and ED (not normal) is a recipe for disaster.
    I believe that parents need to encourage their children to assume some of the control over food and trust them (sometimes) to do things themselves. Great post! 🙂 ❤


    1. I so agree with what you said about the mix of teenage rebellion and EDs.No matter how well-behaved and “good” the teenage is, there’s a natural want to rebel against your parents. Thanks for reading and the lovely comment!


  4. I struggled for YEARS to convince my mom to give me my independence when it came to meals. I doubt I was ready for it, so I am a bit glad she didn’t succumb to my demands. However it was never fun to be served food in such an unintuitive way. I wish I could have been more compromising in the food choices I wanted to make so I could work WITH my mom instead of against her. I am so glad that those days are over, but I sure wish I had had you tips at the time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely! I feel like there is a fine line regarding the freedom that someone in recovery should be given. It makes it easier to “give in” to your ED, but it also can be helpful. I’m sure it varies on a person by person basis too!

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