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No matter to what extent your loved one is living with an eating disorder, it is only natural that you want to provide ample support. Helping somebody with an eating disorder is never easy, but your words and actions may be life-saving. If you find yourself in a situation where a friend or loved one is living with an eating disorder, these tips may be helpful.
1. Remember that eating disorders are unlike many other health conditions
Unlike with a broken arm where you can put a cast on and heal, eating disorders require care from the inside out. It is not as easy as forcing an individual to eat more food and gain weight. This is a mental disorder, which makes many friends and family members frustrated.
2. You can be supportive without pushing your friend.
Keep in mind that there is no substitute for professional help. You are not there to provide your friend with dieting advice, nor are you intended to analyze your friend's behavior. It is not a good idea to press your friend to tell you what they ate that day, nor should you expect them to provide you with the details of their treatment. Sometimes you are more helpful just sitting and chatting about the events of the day.
3. Recommend professional help.
Not all eating disorders must be treated with inpatient help. If your friend shows concern about being forced to live in a hospital, you can always recommend outpatient treatment for anorexia.
4. You can eat in front of your friend.
Food does not have to be some taboo topic in your life simply because your friend is struggling with a disorder. You should not change your routine. In fact, you may actually be helping your friend by showing that food is a normal part of life. Just make sure not to pass judgement about food while you do it.
5. Take time for yourself.
It is essential for everybody to take time for self-care. You cannot help others if you can't help yourself. Imagine the spiel they give you on a plane ride. You must put on your own oxygen mask before you help somebody else put on theirs. The same applies to mental health.
Your number one goal should always be to just be a friend. You do not have to be a mental health expert. In fact, it may actually be more damaging to your friend if you try to act as if you are treating their condition. Talk with a health professional or click here for more information about counseling and therapy options.Share