The Maudsley Method for Weight Loss?

February 19, 2011 at 6:02 pm 7 comments

I don’t know how many people have heard about the Maudsley Method for treating eating disorders. The first time I really explored it was when I read the book Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown. This story details how her family dealt with and treated her oldest daughters anorexia. You may be wondering why I’m talking about anorexia on a blog devoted to the issue of obesity, but as I read this story and then researched this method in greater depth I wondered how it could be applied to those who struggle with overeating as an eating disorder.

First let me explain the Maudsley Method. This approach has 3 phases that are designed to help an individual gain control over their eating habits. In the first phase titled “Weight Restoration” the dangers of sever anorexia (such as malnutrition, hypothermia and cardiac dysfunction) are emphasized as parents learn to re-feed the individual without being critical. (In the Maudsley Approach eating disorders are very much described as an illness, not purely individual choice). This stage will continue  until the individual has accepted parental feeding habits and has begun to steadily gain weight. In the next phase titled “Returning Control of Eating Back to the Adolescent” the family transitions and gradually allows the individual more agency (as in deciding whether they will have an apple with peanut butter or a protein bar for their afternoon snack) and more control over their own diet. This stage can be long and intense and is not considered complete until the individual is back at a health weight for their age and gender. Phase three, “Establishing Healthy Adolescent Identity”, involves identifying  the impact that anorexia has had on the individual and establishing a new individual identity that does not have to be associated with anorexia.

Now that you’ve lived through that whole explanation, I want to ask you how you think this could be applied to individuals who overeat and need to lose weight. The idea from the Maudsley Approach that is the most appealing to me is the idea of family help and coordination in the efforts to overcome the eating disorder. I think that this applies to weight loss too ( I mean, I can’t say no when my husband is eating ice cream and asks me if I want a bite). Weigh in America, how can we utilize the family structure to combat the problem of overeating and obesity? How can we help ourselves use this type of an approach to lose the weight and live a more balanced lifestyle?

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Entry filed under: Maudsley Method, weight, weight loss.

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. aklallatin  |  March 8, 2011 at 5:54 am

    I think this approach can be used in treating obesity because the first stage will involve teaching the dangers of being obese, the second stage will be learning to incorporate healthy food into their diet, and the last stage will be creating an identity that does not involve being obese. Often stage 2 seems but the hardest but I think stage 3 can be even harder. So many people identify themselves with their weight that it would be hard for them to identify themselves as skinny.

    Reply
  • 2. ccharding  |  March 15, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks for the info about the Maudsley Method. Interesting that Agency,is an essential part of any ‘plan’! Be it the Lords plan or a public health issue! Thanks for the awesome blog, will enjoy it in the future if you continue it (hint hint!0

    Reply
  • 3. Tarab  |  March 17, 2011 at 12:18 am

    I enjoyed reading this post! I had never heard of the Maudsley Method before and I’m gonna pass it on to others I know. Thanks!

    Reply
  • 4. Joe Wilkinson  |  March 31, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Indeed, very informative blog with great ideas.

    Reply
  • 5. corywennerholm  |  April 2, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    agreed. thanks for the info

    Reply
  • 6. amandawadmancooper  |  April 5, 2011 at 3:15 am

    This post really got me thinking. I had never heard of the Maudsley Method before but I really think there is a lot of value to it. I think step three is often overlooked in other treatments. The idea of teaching the individual to reevaluate who they are outside of their eating disorder is essential in recovery, otherwise the individual always feels their eating disorder is part of their identity.

    I think this method could be very easily adapted to an obese person. In the first step the parent could help by determining healthy choices and portions and then in step two giving their child the control. I think a unique challenge to applying it to obese people would be that often times the parents have similar habits which would make it difficult for them to be the most helpful.

    Reply
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