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Raising Mentally Healthy Kids with Michelle Nietert

Sep 14, 2021

In the last episode of my series with clinical therapist Ashley Ariail about understanding healthy eating and eating disorders, we’re discussing what happens after your child is diagnosed with an eating disorder and what’s typically involved in a treatment plan. Ashley also walks through different types of beneficial behavioral therapies and offers some practical questions and resources you can use to keep your child focused on their values for long-term success.

Key points from our conversation:

🧬 Research is still being performed to determine if there is a genetic component to eating disorders, but we do know they can be mediated by environmental factors such as modeling appropriate eating habits and positive self-talk.

🩺 An eating disorder diagnosis rarely comes without an additional diagnosis of anxiety and/or depression. After your child has been diagnosed, their care team will include a doctor, counselor, and dietitian to address each condition. It’s not all about eating, it’s about mental health.

🧠 Treatment plans focus on control through various methods like cognitive behavioral therapy to reshape thoughts that aren’t rational or dialectical behavioral therapy to address mindfulness, intercommunication skills, distress tolerance, and emotional regulation.

🤝 If you’re the parent of a child with an eating disorder, externalizing the disorder can be helpful in recognizing it as an internal conflict, not a character issue. Focus on connective behaviors, not corrective.

👤 Kids with eating disorders often have an externalized identity instead of an internalized identity.

✝️ For treatment to have long-term success, you must replace the passion the person had for disordered eating with something else. Many people find spirituality or the belief in something bigger than themselves to be effective motivators.

🔎 Acceptance and commitment therapy involves determining your values and repeated assessment if your behaviors are aligned with those values.

Resources mentioned:
Children’s Health – Childhood Eating Disorders Treatment
FREE empathetic listening printable
Life without Ed
Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder
Skills Based Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder
The Secret Language of Eating Disorders
8 Keys to Recovering from an Eating Disorder

You can find more resources about mental health, parenting, and coping with anxiety at

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