How to Help When You Think Someone You Love Has an Eating Disorder
Eating disorders are scary. They’re scary for the person suffering and for those who love them. If you’ve witnessed someone close to you struggle with an eating disorder, chances are you’ve felt powerless at one point or another. The good news is, there are many resources available to support you and those dealing with eating disorders. It’s difficult to know how to help a friend or family member onto the road to recovery. Don’t let fear of saying the “wrong” thing stop you from saying anything at all. Even if your loved one doesn’t respond to your concern, they still receive the message. Ignoring the problem may aid in the individual’s denial of the eating disorder severity. So, go out on a limb and let them know you think it is a BIG DEAL.
Here are some tips on how to help a friend with an eating disorder:
- Express concern about rapid weight loss, eating patterns or whatever you may be noticing.
- Maintain an open, non-judgmental stance
- Let them know you’re available for support.
- Offer to take the first step in seeking help with them
- Compliment them on things other than their appearance.
- Be caring, but firm. Don’t accept denial or rationalization.
- Provide some written information and resources on eating disorders
- Approach them individually – group “interventions” can be overwhelming and cause individuals to feel attacked or judged.
It’s important to note that there’s only so much you can do to help someone with an eating disorder. At the end of the day, the person suffering needs to access help. However, if you become increasingly concerned, seek guidance from a health professional and/or let the individuals’ closest family members know what’s going on.
Adapted from: National Eating Disorders Association website/Resources