I had the pleasure to attend a Eating Disorders conference on Friday given by the Maudsley Parents Organization. They are a wonderful group who believe in the family-centered approach to eating disorder treatment. http://www.maudsleyparents.org/welcome.html
The Maudsley Approach
The Maudsley approach can mostly be construed as an intensive outpatient treatment where parents play an active and positive role in order to: Help restore their child’s weight as expected given their adolescent’s age and height and overall growth pattern; hand the control over eating back to the adolescent, and; encourage normal adolescent development through an in-depth discussion of these crucial developmental issues as they pertain to their child.
I think there are many pros and cons to this method based on my experience working with eating disorders. I think this method works well for some clients, and not so well with other clients. I think it depends on the client, the family, and the environment in which the eating disorder is living in. However, it’s so important to remember that families are never at “fault” for eating disorders and always involved in the treatment of an eating disorder. A client’s treatment team will include a therapist, a Registered Dietitian, a psychiatrist, friends, and family.
Take-away points include:
- Eating disorders are illnesses, not choices.
- Eating disorders are serious biologically based mental illnesses, included by genetics, neurobiological, and environmental factors.
- 50% of all mental illness is identifiable by age 14.
- Early identification and treatment is KEY for the best chance at full recovery.
- Families and healthcare professionals working together create a cery powerful team to defeat eating disorders.
- 116 pediatric eating disorder articles were published in the year 2000. 3,367 articles were published in the year 2010.
What can parents do to help?
- Eat regular meals/snacks and have the recommended amounts from all food groups. Do not label food as “good” and “bad”.
- Respond to the body’s signals of hunger/fullness
- Create a positive environment for all meals/snacks
- Eat family meals together when possible
- Take the time to relax, enjoy food, and feel and recognize satiety
- Children will restrict or binge when adults model this behavior
- Don’t “diet”- kids pick up on this even when you don’t think they do
- Separate self-evaluation and appearance
- Help children understand that normal changes happen with puberty
What can schools do to help?
- Develop policies to promote wellness and healthy eating so children meet their needs
- Have a cafeteria and a lunch break for all students (**this is a huge problem for some schools)
- Students should have enough time to eat and enjoy their lunch
- Emphasize a positive body image environment in gym class
For more information on this method, please visit http://www.maudsleyparents.org
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Jennifer is a Registered Dietitian and the owner of Eat With Knowledge in Nyack, NY. She is on a mission to help people heal from diets, and find peace and balance with their food choices. She leads a team of dietitians who support the philosophy, “Feel Fabulous about Food!”
Start your own healing by downloading her Free Stop the Cycle of Binge Eating guide or her Free Hunger – Fullness Scale.