Friends and family are extremely important aspects of our lives. After all, it is they who are always there to support us in all we go through, be it good or bad. Some of these situations include issues with our relationships, our work or even our health. Below are thus a few tips you can use to help your friend with an eating disorder.
1. Know the symptoms
There is a wide range of eating disorders out there, a few examples being bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating. All of these are caused by different types of factors and they may all be exhibited through various signs and symptoms. The first step to helping a friend is identifying that they have an eating disorder in the first place. This will be possible by educating yourself with the signs and symptoms of these eating disorders and after identifying what they are suffering from, try to help them accordingly.
2. Be supportive and loving
In order to help your friend, you have to make them feel that you still love them despite what they are dealing with. The last thing that they would need is getting another hit on their self-esteem and confidence which can easily happen if you start to act differently around them because of their disorder. Be supportive, listen to them and be kind. Do not judge or be harsh towards them but instead try to understand what they are going through as much as possible.
3. Avoid talking about weight around them
Almost all eating disorders stem from issues dealing with weight. Most of them feel that they have too much weight even when they don’t. They thus end up going to extreme measures to avoid gaining any more weight. This is thus an extremely sensitive topic around them and it is one that you must avoid at all costs, even when hanging out with your other friends. Moreover, do not comment about your own weight since this will only add to their insecurities.
4. Do not force them into anything
It can get difficult trying to understand why a person will not eat or why they eat too much. Whatever the case, it is not your place to try and manipulate or coerce them into eating better. You need to be patient and understand that this is not something that can be treated overnight or by a pep talk. It requires therapy, medication in some cases, and all the support and love that they can get from their friends and loved ones.
5. Encourage them to get help
When they speak to you, listen to them and be as encouraging and as supportive as you can. In the same token, gently ask them to consider getting professional help like from a doctor. Remember not to be pushy or harsh, but just remind them that this might be good for them and that you have their best interests at heart. It might not happen immediately you tell them, as it might actually take some time before they agree to do so, but just keep being there for them.