In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, February 22-28, Rebecca Wagner
, PhD, staff psychologist on Menninger’s Professional in Crisis Program
and coordinator of The Clinic’s Eating Disorders Services
, offers ways for parents and other adults to model healthy eating for children and adolescents, including:
Eat a balanced meal; follow the plate method: choosemyplate.gov.
Eat in moderation; manage your portions.
Listen to your body for cues of hunger and satiation.
Eat a variety of food and experiment with new foods.
Keep conversation light and casual. Try not to focus on food; avoid talk about calories, weight and body image.
Eating Disorders Services at Menninger
The number of patients participating in Menninger’s eating disorders track ranges from four to 18. The programming is modeled after an intensive outpatient program, offering supported meals three times a day followed by "sit time." Staff assist the patients with meal planning twice a week, DBT skills twice a week, body image twice a week, as well as groups on food and feelings, perfectionism, process of change and relapse prevention. In addition, there are weekly clinician- and patient-led process groups.
When fewer patients are participating in the track, staff and patients have the opportunity to work on specific situations and participate in exposures at the grocery store and restaurants and with fun foods like desserts.
The majority of track participants struggle with co-occurring disorders, but as they focus on the most urgent area in their life, it is common for an existing eating disorder to "become louder," says Dietitian Kimberly George, RD, LD, MS. "Our patients struggle with restricting, binge eating, emotional eating, purging and overexercising. Our programming is designed to keep them safe in the hospital in order for them to participate in their unit activities" to regain their health and mental health.