Summertime can be a very difficult time of the year for those who are in recovery from an eating disorder, and/or struggle with any type of negative body image thoughts. Wearing shorts, tank tops and bathing suits can be difficult. Having to go to cookouts and outdoor functions where there is food can be stressful. As a parent it can be hard to support your child during the summer, a time of the year where you want to vacation, plan day trips, go to the beach, relax and enjoy the beautiful weather….. and they want to be able to do exactly the same!! So how can you support your loved one who is struggling during the summer? Here are 10 tips to help you!
1. If there is an outing or a cook-out, pack food you know they will like so they are not trying to figure out what to eat at the party.
2. People with an ED sometimes have difficulty eating in front of others. Find a quiet place away from everyone to eat. Or take a break and sit in the car to eat.
3. Consider scheduling their meals before and/or after a party or a gathering. That way you, and they, can just enjoy the event rather than stressing about their ED while they are there.
4. Don’t emphasize or bring any attention to how much they are or are not eating at a party. This can be addressed after the event is over. Adjustments can be made at the next meal or snack.
5. ZERO body talk, good or bad! Don’t make any comments about your body, theirs or anyone else.
6. With no school, scheduled vacations and events, summertime is usually a less structured eating schedule. ED thrives off of this and will take advantage of it any chance it gets. Try to keep to an eating schedule for consistent structure, not allowing ED any chance to win.
7. Sit down with your loved one and make a list of things they would like to do that is not ED related. They live with this voice in their head everyday and most likely get a little annoyed by us parents constantly talking about it! Having a chance to do something different and not talk about ED at all will give you both a much needed break.
8. Lead by example… if you yourself struggle with diet culture or poor body image, jump out of your comfort zone. Maybe wear something to the beach or a gathering that you wouldn’t normally. Show them every body is beautiful and to love themselves for who they are.
9. Realize it might mean at times making sacrifices such as where you will be vacationing, going out to eat, having ice cream, etc. will need to be made in order to be able to support them. As hard as it might be to make those changes to plans, try not to make them feel bad about it. Just make the changes and go with the flow. In the end the time spent together is what really matters.
10. Have lots of patience, this is a hard time of the year for them. Listen, and communicate with them. Check in on them, ask them how are they feeling, ask them how you can help support them throughout the summer?
Enjoy your summer and time spent together. Although at times it may feel like it, this will not last forever!