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« Personal Note from Sandee Nebel: How Do You Connect? | Main | Staying present, staying connected »

10/15/2010

Feature Article: Friends, friendships and families

We've been talking this month about connecting, and I raised this question on Twitter: In the days of social media and mobile apps, do you feel more or less connected?
 
Recovering from an eating disorder requires a lot of support - whether that's a kind word and listening ear, or making changes to family eating rituals or where you meet for coffee or a meal. Because food and eating have gotten so "out of order," virtually every aspect of life is affected.
 
Having lots of friends online doesn't necessarily help us feel more connected. We may not have the kind of deep bond with these friends where we feel safe to speak honestly about our personal challenges with food, weight and eating disorders.
 
That's the difference between friends and friendships: friendship is a deep, intimate connection over something in common, the feeling that you're not alone, knowing that someone has your back, someone you can laugh and cry with.
 
It's important to cultivate those supportive relationships. In some cases, you can actually turn those friendships into something more - you can create the supportive family that you need.
 
For example, one place that families sometimes connect is around the table at meal time. Research has shown that children who spend time connecting with family over a meal have better grades and less instances of substance abuse and eating disorders.
 
But in today's busy households, that may not happen. Others in the home may have school and business activities, social commitments.  It seems like everyone is on the go.
 
Whether it's a child or adult who has the eating disorder, that situation can lead to more solitary eating - often choosing unhealthy, fast options - and can create a sense of shame and secrecy around eating.

Here's how to create the feeling of family, even among strangers in a fast food restaurant: When you do choose to eat at one of these places, eat your meal inside instead of in your car. You can create a sense of connection with the other diners and turn your meal back into a social ritual.