What do you do when your loved one has an Eating Disorder? If you are pro-active, concerned and caring, you might turn to the Internet to find books on the subject. One comprehensive, fantastic resource is the Gurze catalog. Found at bulimia.com and published yearly in print format, this catalog is full of books and their descriptions, blurbs of advice such as ‘Do I have an Eating Disorder,’ ‘Things To Do Instead of Bingeing,’ and ‘Online Resources.’
Many of the suggested books aimed at helping a loved one through the lengthy recovery process are targeted towards teenagers and their parents. Many books give advice on what you, as a parent, can do to facilitate a smoother, healthier recovery process.
What do you do, then, when your loved one is not a teenager, but instead a grown adult? Further dispelling the myth that eating disorders are an ‘upper middle class, teenage, white girl,’ disease, brings to light the lack of resources for adults, both in print format and in formal, inpatient treatment settings.
Partnered with the National Eating Disorder Association, (NEDA) more facilities are offering programs directly aimed at treating adult women and the roots of their disorders; which may be the same as a young teenagers, however, treatment is different, since teens aren’t financially responsible for a mortgage, have to make sure dinner is prepared for their family and on the table every night, as well as hold down a job.
One such facility is the Renfrew Center. With inpatient locations in Philadelphia, PA and Coconut Creek, FL; their Philadelphia location offers a TSAB program, or a program within their eating disorders program aimed specifically at women ‘Thirty Something and Beyond.’ It is in those small groups that that age group can talk about challenges not yet faced by their younger inpatient friends. How to deal with family dinners, when it is you, not your young daughter, that struggles with food issues. How to conquer work networking lunches; eating and giving a presentation at the same time, all while holding yourself together. Being able to go to work every day, and turn that paycheck into money for mortgage or rent, food for your family, instead of into money to fuel the disorder. Not only giving practical advice, this group also gives these women a safe haven, a way to connect with women their own age.
What do you do if your loved one cannot afford, for various reasons, to go to a facility that provides this option for adults? How do you help them? The myriad of books giving suggestions to parents on how to treat their children does not compute when your partner, your equal, is dealing with the same disease. There are few books, however, that attempt to tackle the issue of eating disorders in adult women. Less than that are books that address eating disorders in adult men, which is more common than people realize.
Change is happening, in the form of the FREED Act, the first ever bill in Congress that addresses eating disorders specifically. When this monumental bill passes, it will allow for education for professionals and greater treatment options for all who suffer, regardless of gender, age or income.