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.
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.
At 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.
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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?