How do I talk to my friend who has an eating disorder?

August 31
Status: 10 tokens - Active

My friend just recently came out with an eating disorder. How can I support her without offending her?

4 Answers:

Tinkerfort avatar

I would suggest that you choose a quiet time and place where there are few distractions, where it feels safe for you to express your feelings and concerns, and where your friend who may have an eating disorder feels safe to respond. 

Try to express your concerns not only in terms of weight and food, but also in terms of how you have noticed that your friend's behavior and moods have changed. This may help your ill friend to see that her eating behavior, whether it is restricting her intake or binging and purging, is affecting her in multiple ways, not just in her food intake. Eating disorders are not just about weight and food, they affect all areas of the sufferer's life, including her relationships with friends and family.

Do encourage your friend to seek professional help. Your friend may find this process embarrassing or difficult, but reassure her that professional help is the most effective way to treat eating disorders. Offer to help your friend find the right kind of support, and perhaps accompany her to their first appointment, if she decides to meet with a specialist. People trained specifically to help those with eating disorders can offer unique treatment strategies based on individual circumstances.

CDiddy7 avatar

If a friend or relative has an eating disorder, such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, you will probably want to do everything you can to help them recover. You're already doing a great job by finding out more about eating disorders and how to try to support them – it shows you care and helps you understand how they might be feeling.

Getting professional help from a doctor, practice nurse, or a school or college nurse will give your friend the best chance of getting better. But this can be one of the most challenging steps for someone with an eating disorder, so try to encourage them to seek help or offer to go along with them.

Also, instead of asking a friend what she ate today, you might ask her about her thoughts on food, weight, and looks. Of course, just like with the outward signs of an eating disorder, these probing questions only allow you a glimpse at what may be going on — if you’re able to see any truth at all. So you must use discernment and wisdom in helping them out. I hope you find this helpful.

Lifeisgood avatar

If you have a friend who has an eating disorder, it can be challenging to know how to talk to them about it. Here are some solutions that you can take to approach the situation in a supportive and helpful way:

Educate yourself: Before you talk to your friend, it is important to educate yourself about eating disorders. Learn about the different types of eating disorders, the symptoms, and the potential health consequences. This will help you understand what your friend is going through and how you can best support them.

Approach them with care: Choose a time and place where your friend feels comfortable and safe to talk. Let them know that you are concerned about their well-being and that you are there to support them. Be sure to approach the conversation with empathy, understanding, and without judgment.

Encourage them to seek professional help: Eating disorders can be difficult to overcome alone. Encourage your friend to seek professional help from a therapist or doctor who specializes in eating disorders. Offer to help them find resources and support them throughout the process.

Avoid commenting on their appearance: People with eating disorders often have distorted body image and may take comments about their appearance in a negative way. Instead, focus on their well-being and offer support.

Listen without judgment: Allow your friend to talk about their feelings and experiences without judging them. Be there to listen and offer support, and avoid giving unsolicited advice.

Offer healthy activities: Encourage your friend to participate in healthy activities like yoga, hiking, or meditation to help them focus on their mental and physical health.

Check-in regularly: Eating disorders can be a long and difficult process to overcome. Check in with your friend regularly to see how they are doing and offer ongoing support.

Remember that recovery from an eating disorder is a journey, and it takes time and effort. Be patient and supportive of your friend throughout the process. If you are concerned about your friend's immediate safety, do not hesitate to seek professional help or contact a crisis helpline.

DivyangDhyani avatar

First of all, it's great that you want to support your friend who is dealing with an eating disorder. Here are a few tips for how to support your friend in a sensitive and respectful way:

  • Be a good listener: Let your friend talk openly and honestly about how they are feeling without judgement. Show that you care by actively listening to them and offering a supportive ear.
  • Encourage professional help: Let your friend know that you care about them and that you want to support them in getting the help they need. Offer to help them find a therapist, nutritionist, or other healthcare professional who specializes in eating disorders.
  • Avoid commenting on their appearance: Comments about appearance, even well-intentioned ones, can be triggering for someone with an eating disorder. Instead, focus on positive qualities that have nothing to do with their appearance.
  • Be mindful of food-related activities: Eating with someone who has an eating disorder can be stressful and triggering for them. Be mindful of activities that may involve food, and offer alternative ideas for spending time together that don't involve food.
  • Respect their boundaries: It's important to respect your friend's boundaries and not pressure them to share more than they are comfortable with. Let them know that you are there for them whenever they are ready to talk.

Remember, supporting a friend with an eating disorder can be challenging and it's okay to seek additional resources and support for yourself. Consider reaching out to a mental health professional or support group for guidance on how to best support your friend.

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