Instructions for Meal Support Helpers

Dear helpers,

Thank you for agreeing to act as meal support persons. The putting together of meal support teams is a practice that has been an important part of the treatment for many young eating disorders sufferers for over 30 years. In encouraging you in your gift, allow me to provide a few ideas that may make the meal support activity easier.

Basic Concepts:

  1. Eating disorders are very resilient and incredibly difficult to cure. There is nothing that you will do or say in good faith that will “make it worst”. This disease process has a life of its own and like a train; it just keeps on rolling pretty well regardless of what others say.
  2. As a helper, you will not cure this for the sufferer. Getting rid of this disorder is a long struggle with many phases. In the end, it is a combination of interventions that wins the battle with the main ingredient being “I am willing to let my body decide how much I will weigh, my only responsibility is to eat well when I am hungry”.
  3. The eating disorder, “ED” is fed by a desire to be trim or thin. This is the untruth, the idea that one can decide on one's body shape. The genes do that. To try and control is to hurt yourself.

Basic Rules for Being a Meal Support Person:

  1. Your role is not to get a person to eat more. Your role is to accompany a person in a meal. The only reminders you can give is (a) “yes this portion is normal” and (b) “chew your food well to allow your body become aware of the food in a healthy way”.
  2. For the rest, just be a good parent or friend and talk about positive things unrelated to food.
  3. Start and end your meals together and give it about 45 minutes.

Some Approaches

One approach to meal serving (when the therapist gives the go ahead) is for the meal partner to serve two plates. The sufferer then will chose one of the two plates and then you both sit down.


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