What should you do if you notice a change in your grandchild’s eating habits?
The first thing to do is to talk to your child (the parent) about your concerns so that you can share ideas to help your grandchild and collaborate on a course of action.
If your child, who is now the parent, experienced eating issues, chances are they will already be vigilant when it comes to their own child and may be taking steps to address the problem.
It has been proven that early intervention can lead to a more positive outcome so it helps to be familiar with the early warning signs:
• Going on an unusually strict diet
• Making excuses to avoid mealtimes
• Avoiding eating in front of others
• An aversion to certain foods previously enjoyed
• A sudden interest in the calorific content of food
• Excessive exercise
• Wearing baggy clothing to hide weight loss
• Change in disposition; hostility
Helping someone you love help their child
• Seek guidance from The Butterfly Foundation, an organisation dedicated to helping individuals and families deal with eating issues.
• Ensure you have a plan of action in terms of working together in the grandchild’s best interests, so that if your child needs a break and you are taking care of your grandchild, the rules apply in both households. This will help prevent your grandchild playing you off against each other.
• The most important thing to remember is to not lose hope.
• Don’t wait for your grandchild to ask for help but don’t push them either. Unconditional love, as simple as it sounds, is most effective
• Try to catch them out. People with eating issues dislike themselves enough already and when people are unsympathetic they have even more reason to keep it hidden.
• Watch them eat. It draws attention to the problem and makes the person feel like they can’t eat because that’s what’s expected.
• Pretend nothing is wrong – this only serves to feed the eating disorder.
• Give up on them. You never know what is around the corner that will help them make the shift towards recovery. If you give up it sends the message that they should too.
Come from a place of love and compassion and try to stay open so that if your grandchild chooses to open up to you, you can be there for them.