Mom Discovers When to Be Tough With Anorexia

Some Parents Find Success Stopping Anorexia

"The consequences you might set with an adult child that might be ill and you've been down many roads with are different than the consequences you might set for a 13-year-old, whose been sick for three months," said Jennifer E. Wildes, an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

In children younger than 17, Wildes said therapists can teach parents how to keep their children on "refeeding" plans to increase their calorie count. When the child doesn't eat, Wildes said parents have to form a unified, consistent and reasonable front and not back down.

She said families might run into trouble swaying back and forth. "Parents might say earlier in the week, 'You'll be grounded for the rest of your life if you don't eat!' and Saturday she's off to prom with no change in behavior," said Wildes.

Wooten agreed, and has recommended families take away cars if their teenage daughters don't follow eating plans.

But no matter what the age of the child, experts say separating the person from anorexia is a useful tactic. In part, it finally worked for Troscianko.

Emily Troscianko, 28, says she feels she's been through the worst of her struggle with anorexia.

"To the extent that parents can separate the illness from the child, that can be helpful -- you can love the child but not the anorexia," said Wildes.

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