How to Support A Family Member, Friend
or Significant Other Who Is Struggling.
It is difficult to see someone you care about struggle with an eating disorder. While they may not react positively, it is important that you express your concern and offer to help. Be persistent. The sooner you address the issue, the better.
How do you go about talking with someone you suspect has a problem?
Have this conversation in private.
Allow plenty of time for both of you to express your feelings.
Be empathetic and understanding. It is important to try to help your friend or loved one feel accepted and understood. Asking for help is not a weakness.
Remain calm and speak from your own observations and experience. Use “I” statements, and focus on the underlying issues, not the behaviors.
Be prepared with information about resources for treatment.
Ask your friend or loved one to consider going to one appointment, and offer to accompany him or her.
Do not argue. Rejection is not failure. Be persistent by communicating your feelings.
Accept there is a limit to what you can do for another person. Remember that your friend or loved one can refuse treatment.
If you believe his or her life to be in danger, seek immediate help from a professional. The professional will be able to recommend a course of action.
How do you help someone in treatment?
Avoid blaming the eating disorder on someone or something.
Do not demand that the individual stop the behaviors.
Don’t bribe, punish, or reward the individual to control the eating behavior.
Verbalize your own experience and feelings.
Hug your friend or loved one; demonstrate unconditional love.
Do not focus on physical appearance.
Stay away from any topic related to weight.
Do not facilitate special treatment of the individual. This will only hinder the individual’s recovery.
Do not monitor the individual’s behavior.
Maintain the family’s normal eating patterns.
Be firm, consistent, and accept your limitations.
Set rules. Do not try and become a substitute for professional care.
Click on the links below to be directed to their website.
Academy for Eating Disorders
Anorexia Nervosa Association of Disorders
Binge Eating Disorder Association
Eating Disorder Coalition
Eating Disorders: A Guide To Medical Care
Eat Right – Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
FEAST (Families Empowered & Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders)
Global Foundation for Eating Disorders (GFED)
Help For People Struggling With Eating Disorders During The Holidays
Hynes Recovery Services
International Association of Eating Disorder Professionals
Multi-Service Eating Disorder Association (MEDA)
National Association of Anorexia Nervosa & Associated Disorders, Inc.
National Association for Males with ED’s
NEDA Parent Tool Kit
National Coalition of Girls Schools
National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC)
National Health Information Center (NHIC)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)
National Institutes of Mental Health
The Something Fishy Website on Eating Disorders
Student Eating Disorder Awareness Guide