Eating Disorders: Why Logic Doesn't Work When Talking To Your Anorexic Child

When you talk to your anorexic child you may try to use logic. The problem is she is not able to think logically right now. She is under the influence of the eating disorder and it impacts her ability to think clearly.

How often do you find yourself in this kind of circular argument with your anorexic daughter?

Mom - "You need to put butter on your potato."

Daughter - "I am not putting butter on it, it will make me fat."

Mom -"A little butter is not going to make you fat."

Daughter - "How do you know? You don't know as much about Trans fat as I do."

Mom - "It would take a pound of butter for you to even come close to gaining weight!"

Daughter - "Do you know how many calories are in butter?"

And the circle goes around and around. It is a no win and I'm sure you already know that. When we know this, why do we continue trying to talk rationally with someone who is anorexic?

I think it is because we don't know what else to do. We want her to think the same way we do and she just doesn't. She can't. She does not have enough nutrition in her to think clearly.

The reality is the only thing you can do is re-feed her until she gains enough weight to think logically again. The only way to do that is to sit with her until she eats more than she wants to eat. No arguing, negotiating, pleading.

You use a very limited repertoire of responses. You might say, "Food is your medicine. You have to eat to get better." "I know this is difficult but we have to do it. Take 3 more bites. We won't move on until you finish." As much as you can don't use logic; be firm and compassionate and support her in eating one bite at a time.

Do you want to learn more about eating disorders?

If so, download my free e-book "Eating Disorder Basics for Parents" here

Lynn Moore educates, coaches, and consults parents on how to help their adolescent with eating disorder behavior. She will help you figure out what kind of help you need and what you can do to help your child.

This information is not a substitute for consultation with health care professionals. Each child's health issues should be evaluated by a qualified professional. Never read one article and try to implement what you read without more research and help; either from a coach or therapist.

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