How to Help Someone with an Eating Disorder
Updated: 5 days ago
When someone we love and care about is struggling with an eating disorder, all we want to do is help. But how? This is a question I find a lot of parents and family members ask, as well as teammates and coaches. Eating disorders affect not only the individual struggling, but also those around them. I am here to help guide you through steps for supporting your loved one through the journey of recovery.
First things first is to educate yourself about eating disorders. Which, considering you are here, I think you are on the right track! Check out our last blog post “What is an Eating Disorder” for more information. This will help you understand what they are going through and provide you with the ability to be compassionate when communicating with them.
Supporting a loved one is hard. It can be extremely taxing on your own mental health. Therefore, it is very important to practice self care of your own and possibly even seek your own professional help from a therapist. This also provides a great example to your loved one, that it is okay to get help from a professional.
Use Empathy and Compassion
An eating disorder is based in emotions and needs to be addressed from an emotional perspective. It is important to approach the conversation with a genuine concern, rather than judgment. Express your own feelings using “I” statements and let them know you are there to support them through the difficult journey of recovery.
Be Mindful of Language
Avoid using phrases like “Just eat”, or commenting on their appearance. When addressing concern, express the concern around their well-being, instead of their weight or appearance. Avoid using numbers or talking about calories, as well as discussing food. Stay focused on the support you can offer and encourage them to seek professional help.
Encourage Professional Help
Encourage them to seek professional help from a therapist, dietitian, psychiatrist, and/or a doctor who specializes in eating disorders. Recovery is not easy, in fact, it is the harder option most of the time. Reinforce that they are strong for reaching out for support and that you will be alongside them for support throughout the process.
Supporting someone who is struggling with an eating disorder is not an easy thing to do. It requires patience, empathy, and understanding. Being a support often requires you to have your own support network and healthy coping skills, so don’t forget your own self care! If you know someone who is struggling, please feel free to reach out to us at Serendipity Counseling Services. We offer a free 15 minute consultation to see if we would be a good fit and answer any questions you may have about the recovery process. Email us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the form here.