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    My mother has an eating disorder but won’t admit it. I myself struggle with disordered eating (binge eating), so it’s so hard to when I try to recover- to have her right there triggering me with her starving herself. I try to tell myself that Beauty is from within, but when I have my mom who blatantly doesn’t believe that, it’s really hard to have confidence in myself. Does anyone else have a mother like this? How do I feel good about myself and not get triggered when I don’t measure up to her “standard” (not eating and being impeccably thin)?

    Hi Manonymou123,

    You’re asking really good questions with no easy answers. But the good news is that there are some answers (although they’re by no means easy). Off the top of my head a few things come to mind. One thing is that it might be very worth while to try one of several 12-Step groups. One group I would suggest is Overeaters Anonymous (OA). This group might help you with your own Binge-Eating Disorder. There was a famous therapist named Bowen who stated a principal: If we work on one part of a system (i.e. ourselves) eventually the entire system (i.e. the family structure) changes. By taking care of your own Binge-Eating Disorder, your mother might end up getting help for her eating disorder as well. You might also want to check out Co-Dependents Anonymous (CODA), which is a 12-Step group for people who are enabling (or enabled by) other peoples behavior. Lastly, you might want to consider, if you aren’t already, seeking out therapy to help you identify and work through some of the issues of addictive eating and co-dependency.

    Hope this was helpful,

    Binyamin Klempner

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    Topic Author

    Thank you so much, I really appreciate you taking the time to really answer my question. Should these programs be orthodox ? (Are there even? I’m not sure)…

    Hi Manonymous123,

    In theory, all 12-Step fellowships/programs have no religious affiliations. In other words, all people, from all religious backgrounds, from all walks of life are welcome. There are no dues or fees to join an 12-Step fellowship. The only requirement being a desire to recover from addiction. That having been said, there are things that do come up in 12-Step meeting that I find uncomfortable such as individual members speaking about their religions. Also the fact that many 12-Step meetings have traditionally taken place in church basements because this is where they could find a free place to host a meeting. When these things happen at a meeting that I’m attending I try to pay no attention to the place or statement but rather simply focus on the meeting and the reason I’m attending…for my recovery. Be that as I may, I have also attended 12-Step meetings in Yerushalyim were everyone in attendance was Orthodox like myself. Feel free to reach out to me if you want to discuss this further.

    All the best,

    Binyamin Klempner, LMSW

    Binyamin Klempner

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    Your situation sucks, there is no other way to put it.
    Struggling and watching some else struggle is extremely triggering. OA is not the answer. OA will tell you to start cutting food out of your diet which will likely increase fat phobia and make you feel horrible. 12 step programs are great just not for disordered eating. Binge eating disorder is quite serious. I would recommend reading up on it. A lot of it stems from restricting. Also, are you in therapy? What does your therapist have to say?
    For me finding a dietitian who treats it through Relief was the way to go

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    Malka Katzenstein

    It’s difficult when someone in you life is struggling with an eating disorder, and even harder when that’s also triggering for you. It’s important to create boundaries between what is your mother and what is you. You can choose not to discuss your eating with her even when she brings it up, and remind yourself that her struggles are her own and while you can give her love and support, you don’t have to take on her actual struggles.

    Remember that an eating disorder is not logical. You say that you tell yourself that beauty comes from within, and that’s great! But then you also write that it’s hard to feel confident about that when your mom clearly doesn’t believe that. Again, it’s important to know that that is her struggle, not yours. Hopefully you can see the beauty within you that she is having a hard time seeing in herself. Repeat it as a mantra and try to do things for yourself every day that make you feel beautiful and special. Journaling can be a great tool.

    Have you considered working with a therapist or a coach? Often being aware of what sets off your disordered eating patterns can help change them and give you some tools to maintain some distance from your mom’s disorder.


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    Bracha Kopstick

    Hi manonymous123

    This is such a difficult situation to be in, as you want to recover, but have a constant trigger for your own eating disorder behaviour.

    Beyond “beauty being within” focusing on your positive qualities beyond your appearance (skills, talents, accomplishments, etc.) can help with building your confidence.

    Additionally, a therapist can be very useful in helping you create boundaries with your mother and building your recovery tools, and a dietitian specializing in EDs can help you with your own recovery. As mentioned previously, OA and restriction is not the way to go with treating binge eating.

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    Soshy Adelstein


    Late answer here.. First off be proud of yourself for wanting to heal from binge eating and finding food freedom in a world that is steeped in diets and diet culture. I always like to remind clients that in order for you to have peace with food you have to create sort of this protective barrier around your relationship with food. Meaning, no bad messaging is allowed inside. I would start with a simple conversation with your mom or anyone else in your life that does not make you feel incredible about your recovery.

    It can go something like this:

    Mom, I wanted to let you know, I’m working on making peace with food and no longer want to engage in any talk about restriction or diets.

    See what happens from here. Sometimes you have to repeat this sentence over and over again but eventually people do get it. And, if they don’t you can always excuse yourself from the conversation.

    Hope you’re doing well!

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