Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about Adult Eating Disorders

I diet and I think about food and my body weight a lot but I’m not sure whether I have an eating disorder. What should I do?

My doctor told me my weight is normal. Does that mean I can’t attend an eating disorder program?

Weight alone is not the only sign of an eating disorder. Those with serious eating disorders often have a normal weight from various patterns of restrictive eating, binge eating, and purging through self-induced vomiting or exercise. If you are concerned, seek help.

How do I know which treatment option is right for me?

When the program contacts you, you will get detailed information about the treatment program. A treatment team member will offer recommendations based on severity of illness, your individual situation, and informed consent.

What if I’m not sure whether I want treatment?

It’s common for people with eating disorders to feel uncertain about change. You can still investigate treatment options. Once you receive a referral, you can learn more about your condition and treatment without any obligation to continue.

What is meal support?

Those with eating disorders often struggle to get the sufficient variety and amounts of foods needed for balanced nutrition. Meal support involves eating a meal in a group setting. Treatment team members eat with participants and guide group members through pleasant meal conversation. During challenging meals, team members help group members overcome their fears and finish their meal.

What can I do while I wait for treatment?

  • Learn more about eating disorders through available educational resources
  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy workbooks for eating disorders can be helpful but are not a substitute for treatment programs.
  • Attend all scheduled appointments with your doctor or health care provider.

I’m worried about my adult child. How can I get them into treatment?

  • Learn more about eating disorders through educational resources.
  • Talk to your child about your concerns.
  • Offer your help to make a doctor’s appointment for a referral to a treatment program. Encourage them to learn about eating disorders through educational resources, attend a PEDPRP workshop, or learn about treatment programs in Manitoba.
  • Assure them treatment programs are voluntary. Once a referral is received, they will have an opportunity to learn more about their condition and treatment options without any obligation to continue

Frequently Asked Questions about Child & Teen Eating Disorders

How do I know if my child or teen has an eating disorder?

Early signs of an eating disorder may include:

  • Changes in eating habits like dieting or fasting, avoiding certain types of foods, or eating in secret. Sometimes people will wear baggy clothes to hide weight loss or wear extra clothes for warmth.
  • Changes in activity levels, like excessive exercise not previously part of regular activities.
  • Children and teens are in a developmental growth period. Weight loss or not gaining weight when growth is expected is a key feature of eating disorders.
  • Delayed puberty.
  • Changes or interruptions in menstrual cycle.

My child is preoccupied with weight and dieting but their weight is normal. Should I be worried?

Those with serious eating disorders often have a normal weight from various patterns of restrictive eating, binge eating and purging through self-induced vomiting or exercise. If you are concerned, seek help.

What should I do if I think my child might have an eating disorder?

  • Take your child to their family doctor for an assessment. Be sure to tell the doctor about your observations and concerns.
  • Contact Child and Adolescent Mental Health Centralized Intake at 204-958-9660 to make a referral to the Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders Service for your child’s condition and need for treatment can be assessed.

What if my child refuses to attend appointments?

Eating disorders can have serious physical and psychological consequences. Untreated, they can become chronic with lifelong implications for health and well-being. It’s common for those with eating disorders to deny they have a problem; they are often ambivalent about or resistant to receiving treatment. We encourage parents and caregivers to treat this illness seriously and act as you would with any other illness threatening your child’s health.

Purging, by making oneself throw up or by using laxatives, are dangerous behaviours that require medical attention.

How can I access the Child & Adolescent Eating Disorders Service?

Who can I call to learn more about the program?

Contact Child and Adolescent Mental Health Centralized Intake at 204-958-9660

What happens after a referral is sent to the Child & Adolescent Eating Disorders Service?

Once the referral is received, a comprehensive assessment at the Child & Adolescent Eating Disorders Service will be scheduled. It includes:

  • a family interview
  • an individual interview
  • a nutritional assessment

At the end of the assessment, treatment recommendations will be made based on each individual case, severity of illness, the family’s treatment preferences, and informed consent.

What is the treatment philosophy of the Child & Adolescent Eating Disorders Service?

Our treatment goal is to promote balanced eating and activity and to restore psychological and physical health. Our approach is evidence-based and multidisciplinary. It acknowledges the biological, psychological, social and cultural issues related how eating disorder develp and are maintained.

Frequently Asked Questions about Treatment

What is community-based treatment? How is it different than hospital-based programs?

Community-based treatment:

  • is offered in a community setting like a health care clinic or agency instead of a hospital
  • is less intensive than hospital based treatment
  • often includes weekly group therapy, individual counselling and dietitian support

Hospital-based programs provide a higher level of support and treatment. These can include:

Day programs for those with eating disorders who need more intensive therapy and structured meals and support while eating.  People attend the program during the day (Monday – Friday) and return home on evenings and weekends.

Inpatient treatment involves 24 hour care in a hospital. It is often needed when someone is medically unstable from an eating disorder.

How do I know if community-based treatment at the Provincial Eating Disorder Prevention and Recovery Program is right for me?

Community-based treatment may be appropriate if you:

  • are medically stable
  • don’t require intensive treatment like a day program to provide structured meals and eating support (the program does not provide meals or eating support)
  • are engaged in your own care and willing to work to improve your own wellbeing, including changing eating behaviours on your own or with the support of family or friends

We consider everyone interested in our program on an individual basis. While we work with people at various stages of recovery, there may be times when we delay program admission and so other issues – like medical stability, restoring weight  (inpatient or day treatment may be necessary), substance misuse issues, self-harm or other mental health issues – can be addressed first.

If you’re not sure which treatment program is right for you, please contact the Provincial Eating Disorder Prevention and Recovery Program.  Our counsellors or nurse practitioner can help you decide.

I live in rural Manitoba. How do I get help?

While most eating disorder treatment programs are in Winnipeg, there is help for those living in rural areas. Both the Health Sciences Eating Disorder Programs and the Provincial Eating Disorder Prevention and Recovery Program offer consultation, education and support services to rural health care providers.

Please call the Provincial Eating Disorder Prevention and Recovery Program toll free at 1-888-947-1517 to learn about treatment and support options in your region.

I am a man. Can I attend Women’s Health Clinic?

Yes. The Provincial Eating Disorder Prevention and Recovery Program at Women’s Health Clinic is open to all genders.

My child is 16 years old. Can teens get treatment at the Provincial Eating Disorder Prevention and Recovery Program?

Our group-based treatment is most appropriate for adults. We recommend teens get treatment through the Child and Adolescent treatment Program at Health Sciences Centre. They offer age-appropriate treatment, including family-based treatment – an essential part of the recovery process for teens. Your 16 year old is welcome to attend Provincial Eating Disorder Prevention and Recovery Program workshops.

My health care provider told me I need to lose weight. Can you help with this?

Our program does not support dieting or pursuing weight loss because they can lead to disordered eating. Having a large body or higher weight does not mean you have an eating disorder.  No one can determine health or diagnose an eating disorder just by looking at someone’s body size.  We believe people of all shapes and sizes can have a healthy relationship with food and body.

Through our program we work to end weight discrimination and to challenge the cultural obsession with weight loss and thinness. We promote balanced and mindful eating, life-enhancing physical activity, and respect for diverse body shapes and sizes.

If you are concerned about your relationship to food or your body, click here (link to symptoms list) to learn more about eating disorders. You can also contact the Provincial Eating Prevention and Recovery Program to discuss your concerns.

When are the treatment groups the Provincial Eating Disorder Prevention and Recovery Program?

Our treatment groups generally meet during the week and in the evening. They usually start at 5:30 or 6 p.m. and last 2 to 2.5 hours.

I don’t have an eating disorder. Can I still attend workshops?

Yes. Provincial Eating Disorder Prevention and Recovery Program workshops are open to everyone ages 16 and older wanting support to reach a balanced and peaceful relationship with food and body. Many who attend our workshops don’t have an eating disorder but want to improve their body image and relationship with food. Health care providers like dietitians and counsellors are also welcome to attend workshops to enhance their knowledge in these areas.