Eating disorder recovery is tough, and parents and loved ones often want to send thoughtful gifts for the person who is working so hard to get better. Like any illness, it’s nice to be thought of!
Here are some ideas for gifts that may be appropriate when your loved one has an eating disorder. Of course, use your best judgment considering their individual condition.
In general, gifts during eating disorder recovery should not be food or food-oriented. For example, even if you find the coziest socks with donuts on them, go for the cactus or plain design instead. It may or may not be triggering, so it’s better to be safe.
When I asked people who have/had eating disorders what they most wanted, the most common answer was comfy, cozy socks. The benefit of socks is that they are (almost always) one-size-fits all, and weight gain won’t change the way they fit. Also, they are a nice, comforting way of showing you care. And they’re cute!
Eating disorder recovery is deeply vulnerable, which may be why so many people seek tactile safety in comfy, cozy things. A soft, luxurious blanket can be used both to keep warm and create a tent of safety when they’re feeling particularly low.
Scents can be incredibly calming, and an aromatherapy with some soothing scents can be a wonderful gift for someone in eating disorder recovery. There are a bunch of great options, both for diffusers and oils. This offers a great way to provide comfort when you can’t be there in person.
Sometimes when you’re going through a dark time in life, it can be nice to light a candle. It can be scented or unscented, and serves as a reminder that you care even when you can’t be nearby.
Sometimes it can be hard to know what to do with yourself when you’re in recovery. Lots of times the person isn’t supposed to exercise, but they want to do something with their time and energy. Coloring can be a nice, soothing activity that passes the time and gives your loved one something nice to do. There are thousands of options for coloring books. just avoid the food ones or any that show people in case there is any potential for body comparison (for example, people in swimwear).
Recovery is a time of self-discovery. It can be therapeutic to track this self-discovery in a nice journal. There are so many beautiful options for journaling, so I’m sure you can find something that fits your loved ones’ unique personality and style. Be sure to send a writing utensil that makes them feel inspired to write about their experiences!
Slime or Putty
Slime or putty can be a great way to self-soothe, and is frequently requested as a fun, child-like way to relax. You can order some gorgeous custom slimes online, or even find them at your local Target. Silly putty and even Play Doh can be nice, too. The main goal is to do something with your hands. Not that some slimes are designed to look like cupcakes or other food items – avoid those.
Another great tactile toy is a “Squishy,” which has replaced the old-fashioned stress ball and is much cuter. There are tons of styles. Just consider that you may want to avoid the food item squishies. There are a lot of adorable donuts, ice cream cones, and more, but when someone is in eating disorder treatment it’s probably better to go with the animals.
There’s a lot of darkness in eating disorder recovery, so it’s nice to have something bright and twinkly to remind you that it’s going to be OK. Fairy lights are a sweet gift that can instantly brighten anyone’s day.
Bath & Body Gifts
Luxurious bath and body gifts usually smell nice and feel like a treat. They can be a good gift choice for someone in eating disorder recovery because it can encourage them to treat their body with love and affection. Just avoid any food scents like “cupcake” or “vanilla ice cream,” which may not be great choices for eating disorder recovery.
Flowers are a go-to gift anytime you want to brighten someone’s day. And they’re a great choice for eating disorder recovery since they show you care and can be sent virtually anywhere. Just remember that sometimes there are optional add-ons like chocolate, which may not be appropriate during eating disorder recovery. In general, just stick with the flowers and skip the food.
Don’t Forget the Wrapping!
Even the simplest gift is elevated in gorgeous wrapping. Beautiful gift wrapping can make your loved one feel more special and loved, which is the whole point!
It’s nice to send a card – in fact, that may be all you need to send to let them know you’re thinking about them! In general, try to find cards that express a sentiment more in line with “hang in there” rather than “get well soon.” Many people in recovery have mixed feelings about recovering, so it can add unnecessary pressure to send the traditional “get well soon” card. A blank card works, too! Just write a nice note saying how proud you are of them and how much you love them.
I hope this gives you some good ideas as you consider a gift to let your loved one know you’re thinking of them!
If you want to learn more about how you can help your child recover, please reach out for parent coaching. I’d be glad to help!
Ginny Jones is on a mission to empower parents to raise kids who are free from eating disorders and body hate.
She’s the editor of More-Love.org and a Parent Coach who helps parents handle their kids’ food and body issues.