Many loved ones and friends often struggle with knowing what to say to someone who is struggling with an eating disorder. Eating disorders are very complex and they cannot be ignored.
Recovery from an eating disorder begins once it is identified and the underlying issues that drive the eating disorder are addressed and the person finds healthier ways to cope.
Here are a few tips to help support someone who is struggling with an eating disorder:
- DO try to listen and support your loved one in making appropriate decisions that help them recover or stay recovery focused.
- DO ask questions, LISTEN and express your concerns.
- DO try to have meals with them and eat balanced.
- DO know that the nature of an eating disorder is secretive.
- DO understand they will have ambivalence about recovery.
- DO help them research and find recovery centers and express that you hope they don’t want to stay in their eating disorder.
- DO as a caretaker or supportive friend, take care of yourself and find time to speak to someone professionally if you also need an outlet.
Although many people have great intentions of helping someone recovering from an eating disorder, here are a few tips to try and not engage in:
- DON’T every give up on them. The person has to want recovery for themselves.
- DON’T ignore the eating disorder and think it will just go away.
- DON’T threaten your loved one or bribe. For example, “If you gain “x” amount of weight, we will buy you a new car.” Natural consequences are ok. For example, “You won’t be able to play soccer if you aren’t medically stable.”
- DON’T comment on their weight ever!
- DON’T try and sneak extra foods into their diets or be manipulative with their food.
- DON’T try and “fix” the issue. Remember recovery is a process and it takes time.
- DON’T talk about dieting or skipping meals yourself.
- DON’T blame yourself, have guilt on what may have caused the eating disorder