Teenage Anorexia—An Insider’s Perspective (Part 2)

girl with therapistYesterday Jessica Bonish (a recovering anorexic) shared with us all sorts of anorexia recovery strategies. She was so full of useful information, that we couldn’t help but make this a two-part interview. Below are Jessica’s tips on how to live a healthy life without sacrificing recovery.

1) Now that you’re recovering from anorexia, how do you maintain a balance between maintaining a healthy lifestyle and not triggering anorexia?

It’s hard, it’s a daily battle…I do get triggered, but cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques help. When faced with ads promoting unhealthy weight loss I consciously tell myself “this isn’t for me.” Overtime you can change your thinking but it takes patience and persistence to get there.

2) What is your approach to health information these days?

I am conscious of the source and if I’m having a day where the eating disorder voice is strong, I will avoid it altogether. Working with an expert in nutrition (my dietitian) really helps because I can trust her to weed through all the bogus info out there and provide me with expert advice.

3) Do you have any tips for how to lose weight and get healthy without putting oneself at risk for an eating disorder?

It’s really hard…our society is so obsessed with losing weight and people get so focused on that, as opposed to just focusing on eating a healthy diet, consuming more fruits and veggies and being more active. If you try to lose weight, you will inevitably put it back on. Instead, focus on healthy lifestyle changes and the weight loss will come naturally, overtime.

4) How can myWholeLife be mindful in providing guidance to help people live their healthiest lives?

Providing nutritional advice is helpful but there has to also be a focus on balance. Let people know that there are someday foods (such as desserts) and everyday foods and it’s okay to have a cookie or cake on your birthday or a pizza with your friends.

5) There are a lot of parents reading this right now. Do you have any tips for them?

Yes, you need to know that if you’re obsessed with food and your weight, your kids will be too. You also shouldn’t force your children to finish everything on their plate, because this makes them lose touch with their bodies natural hunger signals.  Promote healthy eating, but also balance — it’s okay to have dessert once a week. Finally, talk to your kids about healthy body image and never comment on how much they weigh.

If they have an eating disorder, support them and try to understand that eating disorders are complex, there are many psychological aspects at play, and they are not just about food. Never yell at them for not being able to ‘eat normally,’ and don’t be afraid to admit to them if you don’t know what to say or do in a certain situation. Finally, read up on eating disorders to better understand where your teen is coming from.

*Jessica has kindly allowed us to share her email and you can feel free to message her directly with any questions you might have: jbonish@gmail.com

**If you or your child is recovering from an eating disorder, working with a physician is essential. For added support book an online consult and coaching session with one of our nutrition experts – they can help by addressing the nutritional aspects of recovery. http://www.mywholelife.ca/book-an-online-consultation/

Books Recommended by Jessica:

  1. “Life without Ed,” by Jenni Shaefer

  2. “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Eating Disorders,” by Angie Best-Boss

  3. “A Parent’s Guide to Defeating Eating Disorders,” by Ahmed Boachie and Karin Jasper very helpful.