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Session 2

Parents and Carers – Disordered Eating

Session 2

Strategies

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Possible consequences of irregular eating patterns

Psychological:

Cravings, especially for sugar and carbohydrates

Anxiety

Loss of hunger cues

Increased risk of developing an eating disorder

Physical:

Low blood sugar

Low energy

Nutritional deficiencies

Benefits of regulating eating patterns

Regular eating gives structure to eating habits so that eating can start to become a regular part of life again.

Regular eating also maintains a steady metabolism and prevents the body from going into ‘starvation mode’ in which the body stores energy from food.

It helps to combat delayed, infrequent or unstructured eating and reduces binge eating.

Regular eating helps the body to:
  • Stabilise blood sugar levels.
  • Reduce tiredness and increase energy levels.
  • Increase concentration.
  • Prevent dizziness and other physical symptoms.
  • Reduce irritability and improve mood.

What can I do to help with irregular eating patterns?

Establishing regular eating habits is a fundamental intervention for anyone experiencing disordered eating patterns. Regular eating is the foundation upon which other positive changes in your loved one's eating habits will be based.

Support your young person to eat roughly every three hours, taking the form of three meals, breakfast lunch and dinner, and two or three snacks per day. This can be modified as needed later on.

Regular eating gives structure to eating habits so that eating can start to become a regular part of life again. It helps to combat delayed, infrequent or unstructured eating and reduces binge eating. It stabilises blood sugar levels reducing tiredness, dizziness and increased irritability. Regular eating also maintains a steady metabolism and prevents the body going into starvation mode in which the body stores energy from food.

Tips for regular eating

Help the young person to plan their meals and snacks for the day. Meals and snacks should take precedence over other activities.

Encourage the young person to stick to the plan and avoid eating between meals and snacks.

If the young person is tempted to purge or use laxatives, support them to learn ways to ‘surf the urge’, such as distraction or removing themselves from the situation, to avoid these behaviours.

The hot cross bun model

The hot cross bun model shows how thoughts, emotions, physical feelings and behaviours all interact with each other in one situation. In some cases, a vicious cycle can be formed, with unhelpful behaviours triggering negative thoughts.

Thoughts

Behaviours

Emotions

Physical sensation

The hot cross bun model

Changing one section of the 'hot cross bun' cycle can help to create changes in other areas. You can support a young person to think about their feelings and emotions using this model.

Thoughts

Behaviours

Emotions

Physical sensation

What can help?

Encourage your young person to speak to someone that they feel most able to talk to, share how they are feeling and what has been difficult for them.

Help them reach out

This might be a friend, another parent or carer, or perhaps a professional such as a CAMHS worker or GP. They will be able to help them to think about how to get the right support.

You may feel disheartened if your young person chooses to share this with someone other than yourself. The important thing is to support them to open up.

Sometimes communicating how we feel can take some practice.

Here are some ideas you might suggest...

Encouraging them to have some quiet time to identify and reflect on their feelings.

Finding the right time to communicate
with their trusted person. This could be at a set time each day or each week so they are not distracted or busy whilst talking.

Finding ways of communicating that feel comfortable for them e.g. writing
things down or sending text messages.

Planning ahead – agreeing on ways they might communicate how they feel when they are overwhelmed.

Suggest they send a text message when
distressed to their trusted person.

Agree on a particular ‘code word’ or ‘emoji’ that they will be able to use to express how they are feeling.

Taking the first step...

01

Think of some ways they might be able to speak about their feelings or difficulties.

Who might they speak to?

02
03

Where would be best to do this?

Will it make it more comfortable doing this in person or perhaps over the phone?

04
05

Do they need to write some notes beforehand to help them?

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