Even if you don’t have a problem with your appetite, for those with eating disorders, eating food is a challenge. The recovery process to eliminate and face the disorder head-on is not easy. But if you have family or friends who have an eating disorder, here are some ways to help your friend or family with an eating disorder.
How to Help Someone with an Eating Disorder
Of course, it is not easy to help people with eating disorders. But you have to fight and try your best for your friends or family. At least you helped them in their struggle with eating disorders.
Confident in Your Role
Your role as a friend remains the same. If you want to be part of their support system, treat them honestly and sincerely. Ask what they need from you. It’s important to remember that you want to be their friend, not appear as an “expert”. They are not looking for an “expert” from a friend. If you do too much preparation maybe this can backfire. It could be like they are being tutored, even though that is not your intention.
You have to be open
Never make assumptions. When you manage to get them to hang out and talk, say something like, “Hey, I’m thinking about you and can’t wait to see you. Let me know what I can do to help you. You can call me any time.”
Listen and Respect Their Process
Be a good listener and don’t comment too much. This is the best way to communicate with a friend or family member who is recovering. Of course, you have to be yourself, but also respect the process they are going through. For example, when you are at a restaurant, make sure they are comfortable spending time around you. Do not act strange and tend to overdo it (by ordering a lot of menus) that could offend them.
Avoid risky topics
Talk about body-shaming or discussion about calories and diet is a “trigger” for anyone. It’s not just limited to people struggling with eating disorders. If the discussion has already occurred, try to change the topic of conversation. Don’t act like you’re their therapist. Change the topic of conversation to something else so that the situation can be comfortable again.
Stop Acting Like A Therapist
In many ways, you are their friend and that means accepting them with or without illness. Straying away from the role, trying to be the “expert” can make them feel uncomfortable. This can be dangerous and can destroy friendships. If they are struggling with food or are getting emotional, do it as before. Say “Hey, what’s wrong? How can I help you?”
Change a Healthier Atmosphere
If you see a friend struggling to eat, ask if you can help. Do simple things that can make the atmosphere more conducive and healthy. For example, showing them a cute puppy video from @9gag or a food blogger’s culinary journey video — seriously. It’s simple but it can distract them from their anxiety.
And most importantly: Don’t force them to eat or show your frustration in front of them. If you notice that this behavior occurs frequently and start to worry, you might say: “Hey, I noticed that when we go out you don’t order food often. I don’t want to be your therapist — but as a friend, I’m worried and want you to feel better. Is there anything I can help you with?”
Focus on Their Feelings
Most importantly, avoid talking about other people’s bodies. For example, talking about someone who has successfully dieted. Also, don’t tell them, ‘you look healthy,’ or you look really good,’. This is a bad thing you can do, because for those who have this problem being healthy can be associated with obesity. Instead, say things like, “Wow, you look really happy”, “You look happy.” Like that.
You can try these ways to help someone with an eating disorder. By doing this, hopefully their eating disorders will be cured.