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Eating with Your Anorexic: How My Child Recovered Through Family-Based Treatment and Yours Can Too Hardcover – December 15, 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

For parents of a child with an eating disorder, the most crucial question is "What do we do now?" In this poignant, informative book, Laura Collins shares how she and her husband discovered the answer for themselves--and most significantly--for their anorexic fourteen-year-old-daughter. It is a chronicle of how they applied a home-based treatment method known as "the Maudsley approach," a nontraditional but highly effective way to treat a disease that is well known but largely misunderstood.

When, in the summer of 2002, Collins's smart, athletic, well-adjusted daughter stopped eating, she did what every parent is advised to do: get specialized help. So began her journey through a health care system that is rife with theories and that almost always "treats" the illness through hospitalization or treatment centers that isolate the child from the family--a family that is presumed harmful and made suspect by a range of unsavory stereotypes, from sexual abuse to excessive control to neglect.

With their daughter's health steadily declining, the Collins family came to reject theories that claimed their daughter had chosen her disease and was responsible for giving it up, as well as those that said it was caused by bad parenting--theories that are now largely being discredited. Ultimately, they adopted the principles of the Maudsley approach.

This innovative method avoids hospitalization by employing family-based treatment that presumes parents can help their child recover. With the support and guidance of experts, the Maudsley approach:

  • Equips parents to take charge of refeeding their underweight child
  • Recognizes that patients who eat and gain weight are more likely to progress toward ultimate recovery
  • Disregards the common assumption that parental or familial pathology is at the root of the disease
  • Delivers high success rates: researchers who followed up on their young subjects five years after treatment found that 90 percent had fully recovered--significantly more than those who receive individual therapy

By questioning the health care orthodoxy and learning about their daughter's disease, the Collinses helped her recover. This inspiring book tells you how they succeeded and offers a new approach to dealing with this deadly illness.

"Defeating anorexia nervosa is like climbing a sand hill: you can't rest until you get to the top or you will slide right back down again. Collins's book will inspire you on the climb and . . . increase the likelihood you will reach the top."
--from the Foreword, by James Lock, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, and Director of the Eating Disorders Program at Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford

This deeply moving, extraordinarily personal, and--most of all--helpful book chronicles one mother's journey alongside her teenage daughter's recovery from anorexia nervosa. A true story of pain, healing, and discovery, Eating with Your Anorexic is also the first book to introduce the Maudsley approach, the treatment method that restored her daughter's life. This nontraditional but highly effective home-based approach:

  • Focuses on enabling parents to refeed their underweight child at home, while they receive therapy as outpatients
  • Begins with getting eating and weight normalized before focusing on alleged causes and psychological issues
  • Rejects the once-popular theory that parental or familial pathology is at the root of the illness, and utilizes parents as a resource for recovery

Unwilling to turn their child over to strangers, and unable to accept the stereotypes that blamed either her or both of them for this deadly illness, the Collins family turned to the innovative, family-based Maudsley approach. Their story offers inspiration, information, and hope for others facing this ordeal.

About the Author

Laura Collins is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a number of magazines, including iParenting.com, Skirt!, Adoptive Families, Potomac Review and others.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (December 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071445587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071445580
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #82,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harold Marcuse on June 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
If you are a parent of a child who suddenly spirals into anorexia, you will be shocked and scared, and immediately seek the "professional help" everyone recommends.
However, professionals know very little about what causes the disease. As far as treatment goes, the only thing research suggests can help is "refeeding." The lead researchers on this in the US are James Lock and Daniel LeGrange (whose book "How to Help your Teenager Beat Eating Disorders" I also recommend, as other reviewers do). They present a more scholarly, balanced review of the range of "causes" and "treatments" than this book does, but they conclude that the "Maudsley" family-centered refeeding method has the best success rate.
Collins' book is a personal memoir advocating a family-centered Maudsley method. I feel fortunate, as a parent of a 12-year-old who spiraled into full anorexia within a 3-week period, to have found a professional who introduced us to this approach right away, sparing us some of the agony Collins went through dealing with blame-based "traditional" approaches that left her daughter thinner and thinner.
I read everything I could find on the web, and understood how little is known about anorexia's causes, but that family-centered refeeding is the most promising treatment. Frantic to understand more about "refeeding" between sessions with our professional, I purchased Lock/LeGrange's "How to" book. The crucial information about HOW to refeed is relatively thin, so I turned to this book for more help with specifics on HOW to break the non-eating cycle. HOW do you get a child who thinks food is harming them to take more and more bites of it? Pages 85-92 are the crux, but they are still vaguer than I wished. The motto-principles on 169-173 are good guidelines.
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Format: Hardcover
In her vivid memoir, Collins empowers parents to re-feed their starving child. Anorexia nervosa is the last serious mental illness widely blamed on parenting. But, like autism and schizophrenia, experts now realize that anorexia is a neurological disorder. Triggered by low body weight, neuroendocrine changes in appetite regulators make eating difficult, and other brain changes lead to denial of starvation and restless activity. These odd changes probably helped Pleistocene foragers to migrate when food was depleted. Now these archaic adaptations result in illness and death. The only cure is weight gain, but many parents, thinking that they are somehow to blame, back off just when their child needs them most. Collins' gentle, loving resolve shows how families can help their anorexic recover.
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Format: Hardcover
My granddaughter is recovering from Anorexia. I heard about this book and, since it sounded like what my children were doing with their daughter, went to the nearby bookstore to pick it up.

When I took the book to the counter, the young lady at the register looked at it and then read the fly leaf and part of the intro (a slow day at the book store). Then she told me that she wished there had been books like this when she was sick with Anorexia. She told me her parents would be arrested today for what they did when she was a teenager; they gave her marijuana to stimulate her appetite and get her to eat. It worked, she said.

Well, there's nothing in "Eating With Your Anorexic" about marijuana, but there is a lot about eating.

The story the author relates is exactly what my children encountered; therapist after therapist telling them not to make their starving child eat. This seemed crazy to me then and it seemed crazy to Mrs. Collins also. Rather than watch their girl starve, the author and her husband began using a therapeutic approach called the Maudsley Method in which the parents work as part of the cure and support their child in re-feeding. Here's the best part though---she got better.

I cannot imagine what the previous negative reviewer was thinking. She claims that Mrs. Collins believes that simply making the sufferer eat would cure anorexia. She never says that. What she says, in chapter after chapter of lovely prose, is: that she and her husband refused to believe that they caused their daughter's disease; they didn't believe that an adolescent sufferer could "choose" to get better and that they refused to watch the child they love starve.

I've seen Mrs. Collin's methods work first hand with my own grandchild. This book is an inspiration for any parent who believes they can help their child recover in a safe, secure, supportive home environment.
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Format: Hardcover
One of the worst days of my life was the day my daughter was diagnosed with anorexia. And I'm convinced that all that saved her life, and my sanity, was stumbling across a copy of this book in our local library. I read the whole thing standing in front of the shelf, crying, and then went home with a new plan. Today, two years later, my daughter is healthy and happy and in full recovery (at least now). The information Laura Collins provides in this book is priceless--and it's not disseminated by the medical profession. For parents who are overwhelmed, grieving, and scared, this book is a lifeline and a lifesaver.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found myself nodding in recognition on almost every page of this book. The advice, the real life examples, and the message of hope - that we parents are our children's best chance at success - are indispensable. We are still in the thick of our battle with ED. But the "Stockdale Paradox" is in full effect: I have faith that we will prevail, regardless of the difficulties. AND at the same time we must confront the most brutal facts of our current reality, whatever they might be. Thank you for this gift, Laura!
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