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5 posts from August 2009


A personal note from Sandee Nebel


Today's feature article is about families. Specifically, we talk about how eating disorders affect every member of the family, not just the person who has a problem with food.

Each member of a family has their own unique issues and situations that happen to them. And then, in turn, whatever is going on for them ripples like waves through the rest of the group.

In my own family’s house, there is a lot of transition going on, with our second son heading off to college and a daughter getting used to being the only child at home. It's an adjustment for all of us.

Some of the simplest changes are the most noticeable, for example, it doesn't always make sense to eat at the big dining table when there are just three of us now. So we eat in the kitchen instead. It's cozy, informal and different from what we're used to.

So we're finding our footing on this new path, and getting used to our new roles and routines, and we're doing it together – as a family.

Best regards,

A personal note from Liz: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week


The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is an organization working to provide help, education and support for those affected by and dealing with eating disorders. NEDA facilitates many events and experiences in the eating disorder field, such as an annual conference that is actually coming up soon. "Reshaping Our Future: A Vision for Recovery, Research, Attitudes, and Action!" is taking place in Minneapolis, MN from September 10-12, 2009, and is open to people with eating disorders, their friends and family, as well as professionals. Visit for more information.

Each year, during the last week of February, NEDA works to bring attention to eating disorders through NEDAwareness Week. This year, I was asked to join the NEDAwareness Week 2010 National Committee. Each month, I teleconference with individuals in the eating disorder field from across the nation to brainstorm ideas for next year's event. As I enjoyed my experience with NEDAW last year as a guest speaker in local schools, I am very excited about the opportunity to expand the possibilities of what we can offer to the community in 2010. Please stay tuned for more information as NEDAwareness Week gets closer, and in the meantime you can contact me if you have any suggestions!


Feature article: I'm not the one with the problem, why would I have to go to therapy? Family myths about eating disorders

There are many common misconceptions that keep family members from wanting to participate in the healing process when someone they love is suffering from an eating disorder.Therapy appointments or support group programs take time and, in some cases, money. While a family member may genuinely love and support the person with the eating disorder, they don't want to disrupt their whole life and schedule to add in these new commitments.

Myth #1: Eating disorders only affect the person with the problem. Eating disorders are a family disease. So if you think that refusing to attend meetings or sessions will keep your life normal, neat and predictable, you will be very disappointed! Food and meal times are often a central part of every household, so it's not surprising the overwhelming impact that an eating disorder can have on everyone. As well, the stress of the situation and the underlying issues of the eating disorder itself will create a strain on all of the relationships in the family, not just with the person who has the problem with food.

Myth #2: The person with the eating disorder could stop the behavior themselves if they just tried hard enough. This is probably the most harmful myth, for two reasons: (a) It places unrealistic expectations and pressure on the person who is already facing a very challenging disease and (b) It keeps the rest of the family from taking responsibility for their own role in the person's recovery. It's not that you caused or can stop the problem, but by blaming instead of supporting you are certainly not helping.

Myth #3: Therapy and support groups are only helpful for the person with the eating disorder. According to a study by Al-Anon, a 12-step program for family members of people with addictions, 82% of respondents reported that their mental health and well-being was much improved by participating in the Al-Anon program ( A therapy or support program will give you tools to deal with the stressful situation you're in (see Myth #1), as well as other situations in your life.

Upcoming groups

We have two upcoming groups on the theme of family:

1 New! The FFEED Support Group (Family and Friends Emerging from Eating Disorders) is for family members, and you can download the flyer here.

2. New workshop! Family Matters is for individuals with eating disorders, and you can download the flyer here.

Other groups we are offering to our clients and the community:

Anorexia and Bulimia Recovery Group - next session begins September 1st and meets Tuesdays at 5pm (4 week sessions) (flyer here)

New!  Relapse Prevention Group for Emotional Overeaters - Ideal group if you have been in a group already and you're in the action or maintenance stage of recovery. This group will meet monthly on a Thursday evening from 7-9pm. Our first meeting is August 27th. It is almost full, so if you are interested, please print out the flyer here and contact Sandee Nebel, LMHC,at or by calling the office (407) 622-0202.

Overeating Recovery Group - next session begins September 3rd.  We meet on Thursdays for four weeks from 7-8:30pm. We take a look at the issues behind emotional overeating and get to work on solutions in this therapy group. An intake appointment is required for new participants. Fee is $120 for the four-week session. Facilitated by Tara Harvill, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern and Registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern. If you would like a flyer or more details, please visit or call the office (407) 622-0202.

We are working on more ways to be of service to you. Do you have ideas for groups that you would like to participate in? Please contact us on our website

Recommended resources

Here are just three books that will be helpful to family members of someone with an eating disorder and body image issues:

Andrea's voice – Silenced by bulimia, by Doris Smeltzer with Andrea Lynn Smeltzer
why she feels fat - Understanding Your Loved One's Eating Doisorder and How You Can Help, by Johanna Marie McShane, PhD & Tony Paulson, PhD
Reflections of me: Girls and body image, by Kris Hirschmann

As always, we are glad to make other suggestions for books that may be helpful to your situation in our sessions.