New book about Anorexia Nervosa

The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network (SCHN) Eating Disorders Service supports families when their child is unwell with Anorexia Nervosa and works with parents to help their child recover from their eating disorder.

Two members of the SCHN Eating Disorders Service, Dr Andrew Wallis and Colleen Alford, who together have more than 30 years' experience working with children and adolescents with eating disorders, have written a book about Anorexia Nervosa.

The book, Help Your Child Start to Recover from Anorexia Nervosa, provides an accessible and practical guide to understanding Anorexia Nervosa and what is involved in the treatment and recovery process. In each chapter, parents are provided with accessible information and practical strategies to support their child and help them start to get better, physically, and psychologically. 

Who is it for?

This book has been specifically written for parents who have a child or adolescent with Anorexia Nervosa. Being able to access relevant, helpful information is very important but at the same time it can be overwhelming, particularly in those early days following diagnosis. Help Your Child Start to Recover from Anorexia Nervosa aims to equip parents with the most important information, in an easy-to-read format with practical steps forward. We know that parents are very busy at the best of times, but even more so when their child is unwell, for this reason, the book has been written concisely and in plain English, taking only about 90 minutes to read cover-to-cover.

How does Anorexia Nervosa differ from other eating disorders?

Anorexia Nervosa is a restrictive eating disorder, and the food restriction and other weight control behaviours stem from an intense fear of gaining weight. The fear is so intense that it defies hunger and knowledge of the medical impact of malnutrition. Anorexia Nervosa is an ego-syntonic illness, meaning that it is difficult for the person experiencing Anorexia Nervosa to comprehend and acknowledge just how much the illness is affecting them. It's due to the ego syntonic nature of Anorexia Nervosa that parents usually need to be the drivers of change initially - taking on all food decisions, food preparation and supporting their child to eat the food that their body needs.

Are eating disorders becoming more prevalent in Australia?

It is estimated that over 1 million people in Australia have an eating disorder. Unfortunately the rates of people experiencing an eating disorder have increased dramatically during the COVID pandemic over the last two years. The pandemic has led to a great deal of uncertainty, anxiety, changes to routine, and reduced access to everyday supports and structures. All of these things have meant that children, adolescents and adults can be more vulnerable to developing an eating disorder.

What support/services does SCHN provide for children and young people with eating disorders?

SCHN provides a comprehensive eating disorder service including two inpatient services for children and adolescents, one at The Children's Hospital at Westmead and one at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick. Both teams also provide an outpatient service for patients who have previously had an admission. The outpatient service provides medical and psychiatric follow up, as well as therapy services. The SCHN Eating Disorder Service also includes the only specialist Eating Disorders Day Program for Children and Adolescents in NSW, a rural outreach service, a family group program and intensive therapy program. The SCHN Eating Disorder Service is staffed by a multi-disciplinary team including psychiatrists, paediatricians, junior medical officers, nurses, social workers, clinical psychologists and supported by occupational therapists, Youth Arts Program, pharmacists, dietitians, physiotherapists and teachers.

Where is the book available?

The book is available at The Kids Health Bookshop for $20.95 and there are discounts for bulk orders. Please contact The Kids Health Bookshop to place an order: https://kidshealth.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/help-your-child-start-recover-anorexia-nervosa-practical-guide