If you know someone who is struggling with an eating disorder, you will probably want to help them as much as you can. Anorexia, bulimia, or any other form of eating disorder can make someone’s life difficult as well as the lives of those close to them.
You have given two big steps identifying something is not right and searching for advice on how to help them best. Let’s focus on what you can do next!
Ways of helping someone with an eating disorder
1. Learn about eating disorders and the types.
To give the right help, you first need to know more about the condition. Here is some information that might help you – Types of eating disorders. Don’t hesitate to look different resources, websites, books, experts, etc.
2. Let them know you are there.
Making sure they know they have your support can motivate a big change in their behaviour.
3. Be non-judgemental.
Creating a safe space to talk between the two of you will encourage them to open up about their feelings. You may get to know the reasons why they are suffering from this.
4. Don’t make assumptions.
Don’t forget you are there to listen and to support them with their condition. Don’t act like you know the reasons why they’re suffering, this could possible lead to them shutting down and making them stop seeing you as a supporter.
5. Be patient with them.
Patience is an important factor when it comes to helping someone with an eating disorder or any mental health condition. You can feel helpless or angry because you’re not able to put an end to this situation. You have to remember it can take them a long time to realise their own condition and that they need to seek help. They are dealing with a range of emotions that they have never experienced before.
6. Don’t talk about their body.
Commenting on someone’s appearance might be triggering, no matter if your comment is positive or not, it can have a negative effect on their mental health. Avoid these types of comments even if you think it would help, you don’t know how they might feel.
7. Include them.
Whether it is to go shopping, go for a walk, or socialise, encourage them to come with you. Leaving someone aside because they’re not in a good condition, can affect the way they feel. Try to avoid situations that involve food.
8. Don’t comment on their food choices.
Try to leave stress aside as much as possible when it comes to eating times. Let them eat what they can and feel at that moment. These comments can turn eating times into a very difficult situation, making it easier for them to just avoid them.
9. Share other peoples’ experiences.
It can be really helpful to talk about other peoples’ battles, especially when they feel ready to start recovering. There’s a lot of mental health advocates that have experienced eating disorders and share their recovery process on social media.
10. Encourage them to get professional help.
Seeing a doctor can be scary for them, but it’s important that there’s a professional helping and tracking their recovery. If they want, you can support them going together to doctor appointments.