Advertisement
Family life

It's Eating Disorder Awareness Week in Canada

Eating Disorder Therapist, Kyla Fox, shares what behaviours to look out for and how to prevent them at home

It's Eating Disorder Awareness Week in Canada

iStock

February 1st-7th marks Eating Disorder Awareness Week in Canada. This week is deeply meaningful to me, as I suffered for so many years of my life with pervasive and intrusive rules and rituals around food and my body. When I recovered, I made it my mission to become a therapist and to build a centre for recovery, both of which I would have wanted for myself all those years that I suffered alone.

I've now done this work for almost 20 years and am a mother raising two daughters (aged 7 and 8). It's so important for me to speak out and bring both awareness and clarity to this complex mental health issue impacting so many Canadians.

author Kyla taking a photo of her two daughters Credit: Kyla Fox

Most people who suffer from eating disorders are highly competent, functioning, capable, talented, intelligent kids and parents. They attend school, do extracurricular activities, work daily, raise kids and achieve extraordinary things.

This is also why they commonly go unnoticed - eating disorder behaviours are often camouflaged behind all the accolades, behind the messages promoting health, wellness and fitness, and behind the ability to keep on going.

What to look out for that you may not have considered as disordered eating

Remember, eating disorder behaviours start off innocently, with good intentions, and provide relief. Over time, they become rules and rituals that cannot easily (if at all) be broken.

  • Shift in eating choices towards being "healthy," or eating "clean," or being "picky," eating only a few items
  • Exercising consistently to become "healthier" or to get "fit"
  • Not eating as often or at all in front of others. Instead, they've: "eaten already," "are too busy studying," "had a big lunch with colleagues."
  • Food disappearing, wrappers being found, and unable to calmly talk about/be asked about it
  • Mood is dysregulated
  • Preoccupation with how they look
  • Isolating from things that once made them happy and fulfilled
  • Sad, irritable, agitated, short-fused
  • Unable to adapt well when change occurs, particularly around food/body/routine
  • Shift in weight
author Kyla fix taking a photo in a mirror in a restaurant Credit: Kyla Fox

How to address and prevent these behaviours at home

Talk about what you see

Don't hide away from what you're noticing with loved ones. Because eating disorders live in secrecy and silence, talking openly about what you see brings the behaviours out to the forefront. If you struggle to know what to say, write it down and read it aloud. This is a great way to deliver what you want to when nerves are high.

Make a daily point to share your feelings with your kids

Advertisement

Have them do the same. Inviting emotional conversations allows for feelings to be safe and heard. Eating disorder behaviours are maladaptive coping mechanisms that stem (often) from not knowing how to/feeling unable to express feelings safely and then trust in being supported.

Notice your own food/body talk

Things like, "That is bad to eat, "That is not healthy," "I need to make up for what I ate this weekend," "No sugar," "I hate how I look in my jeans," "Did you see how they look now since the holidays?", "finish your plate". Put a stop to it.

author Kyla's daughters eating croissants Credit: Kyla Fox

Have family meals as a regular part of the week

Come together regularly and eat the same thing (unless allergies exist). This is a powerful way to create safety and ease with food. It also models that coming together around food isn't only about the food itself and connection and togetherness.

Throw out scales and ditch diets

They don't work and only make people feel worse about themselves (if not immediately, eventually). Let's measure what matters - kindness, honesty, trying your best, getting good sleep, laughing (to name a few!).

Fostering a safe and regulated relationship with food and the body is vital to having a positive self-concept and a life without an eating disorder. Learning to accept ourselves, be good to ourselves, and to LIKE ourselves is a real gift. We all deserve this.

Advertisement

Author:

Kyla Fox is an Eating Disorder Specialist, survivor, and advocate who reframes the ways that we think about and treat eating disorders. Kyla, herself, struggled with an eating disorder and an over-exercise addiction in her late teens.

In her quest to find help, she experienced large care gaps and fundamental flaws in the treatment and recovery approach, preventing her from getting the help that she needed.

So it became Kyla’s mission to become the therapist she would have wanted in her own recovery. Kyla is a Master’s-level clinician with degrees from both the University of Toronto in the Masters of Social Work program and an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s Studies.

In February of 2012, after 10 years of private practice, Kyla established The Kyla Fox Centre, a first-of-its-kind eating disorder recovery centre, now fully virtual since COVID. Kyla, and her multidisciplinary team, treat those directly affected by eating disorders, along with supporting families, parents, and loved ones.

Advertisement

The centre provides individualized care that spans the spectrum of intensive outpatient treatment all the way through to long-term maintenance. Every day, Kyla and her team are saving lives.

With such deep and varied experience in the field, Kyla is regularly called on by Canada’s top media outlets as a special commentator on a broad list of topics, including eating disorders, self-esteem, women’s health, body image, pregnancy, body confidence and more. For more information, please visit www.kylafoxcentre.com.

Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with your baby's development, get the latest parenting content and receive special offers from our partners

I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Kyla Fox is an Eating Disorder Specialist, survivor, and advocate who reframes the ways that we think about and treat eating disorders. Kyla, herself, struggled with an eating disorder and an over-exercise addiction in her late teens. On her quest to find help, she experienced large care gaps and fundamental flaws in the treatment and recovery approach, preventing her from getting the help that she needed. It, therefore, became Kyla’s mission to become the therapist she would have wanted to have had in her own recovery. Kyla is a Master’s-level clinician with degrees from both the University of Toronto in the Masters of Social Work program and an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s Studies. In February of 2012, after 10 years of private practice, Kyla established The Kyla Fox Centre, - the first of its kind eating disorder recovery centre - now fully virtual since COVID. Kyla, and her multidisciplinary team, treat those directly affected by eating disorders, along with supporting families, parents, and loved ones. The centre provides individualized care that spans the spectrum of intensive outpatient treatment all the way through to long term maintenance. Every day, Kyla and her team are saving lives. With such deep and varied experience in the field, Kyla is regularly called on by Canada’s top media outlets as a special commentator on a broad list of topics, including eating disorders, self-esteem, women’s health, body image, pregnancy, body confidence and more. For more information, please visit www.kylafoxcentre.com.

Advertisement
Advertisement