Eating disorders (ED) are sometimes described as an alternate personality that becomes more entrenched the longer it is allowed to function within the individual. In some respects this is true, as an individual is more likely to recover completely from an ED if effective treatment is started while the ED is still developing or the individual has not had the disorder for long.
Treating eating disorders is a multi-disciplinary activity. Research shows that the best results occur when the therapist, dietician, and physician work together as a team. In children and adolescents, the treatment team must also include the parents as well as school personnel. Since children spend a majority of their waking hours at school, support from the school staff is essential.
Just as each child is unique, so is his or her eating disorders. For adolescents who require weight gain as part of their treatment, it may be necessary for them to eat multiple times while in school. Accountability for this process can occur in multiple ways. Morning or afternoon snacks can mean the difference between weight gain or loss and engaging school staff in planning for this can be the difference between success and failure.
What to do for lunch can also be stressful for students struggling with eating disorders. For some students, the best option is having a parent eat lunch with them in a private setting. For others, eating lunch with a trusted teacher, counselor or other staff member may be the most effective. It may also take students with an eating disorder longer to finish a meal, and the school may need to help by allowing additional time for lunch.