How to Support Someone with an Eating Disorder
Updated: Feb 11
· Listen and be patient. Take the time to listen to the person with an eating disorder. Avoid criticising them, making assumptions or trying to persuade them to make changes. People with eating disorders are often already highly self-critical and it can take time for them to acknowledge they have a problem with eating and accept that they would benefit from seeking help
· Reduce blame. People are not to blame for developing an eating disorder, often various factors can contribute to their development. If individuals with eating disorders sense that others think they are to blame this will only lead to more self-hatred and hopelessness about recovering
· Things to avoid talking about. People with eating disorders often place too much emphasis on eating, weight and shape. Therefore, it is important to move the focus away from these by steering away from talking about food, weight, shape and diets in their presence. Try to model healthy eating and exercise patterns
· Educate yourself. Read reputable resources on eating disorders to improve your understanding of them and ability to empathise with the struggle people with eating disorders are facing and debunk any incorrect assumptions
· Reduce stress during meal times. Meal times are often highly distressing for those with an eating disorder, therefore it is good to minimise other stressors as far as possible. Avoid commenting on what they are eating or adding any pressure
· Ask how you can best help. One of the best ways to ascertain how to help someone with an eating disorder is to simply ask them.
· Support their self-esteem. People with eating disorders often lack self-esteem and can withdraw from social activities. To support them in improving their self-esteem provide praise, avoid criticising them, continue to invite them to engage in activities (non-food related ones e.g. going to a restaurant) even though they may often decline such invites
If you would like help on supporting a loved one with an eating disorder please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or kindly complete the webform. I offer therapy in-person in St Albans/Hertfordshire and online.