In this BIT: Eating Disorder Specialist Kyla Fox shares her advice on how to have a healthy food relationship, how to eat healthy, improve your body image, and all in all, combat disordered eating.
Kyla Fox is an Eating Disorder Specialist, Survivor and Advocate who reframes the way that we think about and treat eating disorders. As someone who struggled with disordered eating during her teen years, Kyla experienced the large care gaps and fundamental flaws in the treatment and recovery approach that prevent patients from getting the help that they need. In this BIT, Kyla shares how teens can better their body image, and how parents can support their children in maintaining a healthy relationship with food. Now, as a Master’s-level clinician with degrees from both the University of Toronto in the Master of Social Work program and an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s Studies, Kyla has been filling that gap with her realistic and innovative approach to eating disorder management, treatment and recovery, and the creation of her outpatient treatment clinic, The Kyla Fox Centre.
Kyla Fox: I suffered for so many years with an eating disorder – quite acutely in my late teens/early twenties – but was actively disordered eating for the majority of my life prior to that.Treatment was hard to come by; wait lists were long, and the professionals I met with weren’t well-versed in treating eating disorders. It was a very scary and lonely experience for both me and my family. Moreover, during my recovery, I made it my mission to become the therapist and build the treatment centre that I would have wanted and needed for myself.
1. Be around people/environments that make you feel seen.
2. Get on a team sport or join some community involving movement! This is so helpful in redefining being active as FUN. It allows for connection with others, feeling supported, and learning new skills. Being in our bodies in this way supports mental health, which supports positive body image.
3. Start each day with breakfast. Then eat regularly (meals and snacks) throughout each day thereafter. This supports nourishment in a regulated way, which is so important for feeling good in our bodies.
Myth: Eating disorders are about people wanting to be skinny.
NOPE! Eating disorders are not exclusively about food and the body. However, they do manifest in food and the body, so both of these aspects must be actively addressed in treatment. Eating disorders are rooted in much deeper issues—biological, social, psychological, genetic—which then manifest in food and the body.
Myth: If you just eat or stop eating you’ll be fine.
Truth: NOPE! The harmful patterns of restricting, binging and purging are far more complex to break and require a ton of hard work, commitment, and support to “just eat” or “stop eating”.
Myth: Eating disorders are not a big deal.
Truth: NOPE! Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health issue.
1. Parents must first recognize their own body image issues and pay attention to how they outwardly communicate about and describe these feelings in front of their teens.
If a parent is criticizing their own body or dieting, it sends a powerful message of lacking acceptance, which their teens will absorb.
2. Be a safe and reliable place for teens to share feelings. Welcome emotional conversations and don’t judge, LISTEN.
3. Engage in family meals together. Make coming together around food safe and consistent.
Body talk is sensitive. Period. It’s tricky to avoid triggering resistance and defensiveness because of this sensitivity. I always feel that if parents can come from a place of curiosity – wanting to learn from their teen about what they’re experiencing vs. knowing/fixing/being right – this can open up space for trust and sharing.
Our body is the home of our life. Because of this, appreciating it, LOVING it, and treating it well, allows us to be happier overall.
The Kyla Fox Centre is on the brink of solidifying some really powerful partnerships with top addiction centres and medical centres! This will allow us to provide eating disorder treatment to so many more people who are suffering.
My family. My girls. Being a mother has filled my heart in ways I never imagined possible. And yoga – it saves me every day.
People wouldn’t necessarily know this about me or think this of me, but I have a lot of anxiety (I always have). It can be very debilitating. So, I have a little mantra I tell myself when anxiety creeps in: “Fear is only an idea. It’s not real. Don’t let fear win.”
Curry! I love warm, delicious food in a bowl. It feels so soothing and nourishing to me. I spent a lot of time in India on my own in my early thirties and learned so much about their cuisine and traditions.
We hope that Kyla Fox’s tips give you a small bit of happiness and remind you to like your body, maintain a healthy food relationship, and treat yourself with love.
Find Kyla here:
For more happiness check out our Mood Boost page.
Featuring quick videos created for teens by teens.
How to eat healthy? See Kyla Fox’s advice on how to eat healthy in this BITS post.