Turkey

 

Yes, it’s already December and I’m still concocting a various array of T-Day leftover meals. The latest- and hopefully the last turkey creation!- curried turkey potpie was a hit, but with one plate empty at the table.

Life for our family, once again, is on temporary halt to regroup, realign, and reaffirm former, as well as new recovery priorities-goals; and up the ante a bit to get beyond the bump-in-the-road our daughter is experiencing wrestling free (though as of late, resembling more acquiescence) from the dangerous clutches of anorexia.

Leftovers…

Ironically we were in this familiar territory the same time last year. And as a parent, when you’ve seen how far your child has come through his/her ED recovery, how hard the fight gets fought, seeing and knowing they can do it; it feels like suddenly your footing on that long arduous climb is becoming loose and weak. You’ve been tossed back down, the wind has been knocked clean out — “GASP!” Some confusion sets in, frustration, even some anger– “Damn you friggin’ (I use a word with a bit more gusto and power) ED!” It’s time to take action, as most of us know, eating disorders love the waiting-game, the delay, the postponing… we’ve already been there too.

Adolescence is a time of rapid growth and development, and a body taxed with an eating disorder at this time cannot do fully what it was meant to do normally unhindered. The reports regarding bone density and calcium loss within eating disorder sufferers are not new but it is a necessary reminder of the severity of this illness and why treatment should not be delayed, since significant changes do take place before decreases in bone structure become evident, and some of these changes can be permanent after a certain age.

Leftovers in this scenario can also be remembered as requiring 100% full nutritional support and adherence- without question, without exception. This time of year brings forth both a welcoming joy towards celebration with family and friends, but as well an unwelcome increase of stressors and worries that pose some unique challenges for those with eating disorders.

There has been a wide variety of posts and informational resources in this regard which is fantastic. One incredibly busy and committed individual interviewing as of late is Dr Cynthia Bulik, who is the director of the UNC Eating Disorder Program prompting:



Keep your support team on speed dial and call them at any time during or after a party. Talking relieves the pressure. You’re not overburdening them. They will undoubtedly have stories to share, too.– Potlucks are your friends. Don’t hesitate to take a food you prepared that feels safe enough to you so that you will have at least one manageable entrée.– Lavish holiday spreads don’t have to be the enemy. If faced with one, channel your inner Boy Scout or Girl Scout skills and be prepared! Before stepping in line, and before getting a plate, evaluate the options. Mindfully consider which foods you’ll sample, portion sizes and whether you feel comfortable trying a “feared food.” Make a decision and stick with it!– If your treatment team has given you a meal plan stay on track so you aren’t starving when you get there.– Listen with your heart, not your head. Hear the happiness and caring in a person’s tone when they tell you that you look “so much better.” They are saying they care about you. Don’t let the eating disorder lead you to misinterpret those words in a way that deprives you of hearing that people really care about you.— Get Real! People too often have a fantasy about how “perfect” the holidays are going to be. When family members fail to live up to unrealistic expectations, it might be tempting to restrict or overeat in an effort to feel better temporarily. Try to anticipate some of the possible emotional traps in advance so you can cope (and maybe even laugh) when you encounter them.– The well-known HALT slogan works for any type of recovery. Don’t let yourself get too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. This is especially important over the holidays.– ‘Tis the Season to Forgive, so forgive yourself if you have an eating slip.– Try your best not to skip appointments with your treatment team. It’s an important time to stay in touch with people who can help.

 

Dr Bulik also continued with an “Eating Pressure” interview recently conducted by CNN worth viewing.

And there is an equally interesting qualitative study: “Total Control? Eating Disorders and Emotional Responses to Food” conducted by the University of Adelaide in Australia with the result podcast and interview available from CQ University’s International Program of Psych-Social Health Research Dept that looks at emotional responses to images of food presented to adults with eating disorders, and using the qualitative methodology to further measure and explore issues of self-control, food fears/responses, CBT-cognitive behavior therapy as a means to help adjust maladaptive ways of thinking and behaving. I think this could also be extremely beneficial to younger ED sufferers as well, and crucial for helping them deal more cohesively with their “fear” foods that many times get downplayed or ignored within many treatment programs by only having the patients eat the foods, or avoid them altogether in their meal plans.

And yet more leftovers, as lastly I found BBC’s-Radio4 All In The Mind Segment by Claudia Hammond insightful in regards to the variations in some residential programs and getting additional perspectives from patients who are going through the program, their personal thoughts and views. The “partnership” message from the Phoenix ED program in the UK director, Dr Thompson was also welcoming to hear in having patients play a significant role in their treatment and recovery process along with more collaborative and balanced strategies. The numbered tables that residents eat at are something quite interesting as well, with Table 1 being a level requiring most support and moving towards Table 3 with more independence, and thusly Table 2 being 50/50. I think to me what stands out is the ability to remain open to making changes and being creative in strategies, and not simply applying practices to ED care and treatment that simply don’t always work for the individual patient.

So while I’m still musing over Thanksgiving tidbits and at the same time putting up the Christmas lights and bringing out the boxes of holiday decorations, we’ll keep fighting and rallying behind our daughter to continue to move forward within her next level of recovery. Regaining some ground lost with deeper learning and strength gained (we all make mistakes and have setbacks- with or without an eating disorder!) We know we’ll get through this together and once again her place at the table will be filled when she is ready… until then leftovers may be on the menu for awhile.

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