Posted by: cindy | July 19, 2008

How Can I Help Someone With Eating Disorders, Part II

  1. Try to be objective, calm, and caring in discussing the individual’s behaviors that concern you.  Avoid offering simple solutions to the person like “just eat and you’ll feel better”, or “don’t throw up anymore”.  If it were that simple, there wouldn’t be a problem.  Do not try to control the disordered eating behavior.  You can’t make it stop.  Threatening, punishing, blaming, or monitoring will only lead the person to become more secretive.  Eating disorder is an attempt to solve unseen emotional issues.  Accept the person for who she/he is.  Make it clear to them that your feelings don’t depend on their weight, shape, size or eating habits. 
  2. Don’t comment on weight or appearance.  Comments on anyone’s weight or appearance reinforce the cultural pressure to be thin at all costs.  Rather than focusing on outward appearance, learn to notice and appreciate her personality, thoughts, opinions, and inner feelings.  The eating disordered person needs to value all aspects of herself and tune-up to an inner sense of self rather than continue to rely on external measures for self esteem.
  3. If a person is in acute medical danger or when dealing with minors you must exercise responsibility and authority.  Trying to CONVINCE them they need treatment may not be an option.
  4. Try to maintain as normal and healthy lifestyle as possible.  It’s important for you and the person with the eating disorder not to structure your life around the eating disorder.
  5. As much as possible, try not to allow your like to be disrupted by discussions (arguments, threats, bribes, guilt, or blame) concerning issues of weight, eating and food.  Do not buy food soley to satisfy the eating disorder person nor allow her to dictate menus or mealtimes.  Household chores involving food should be negotiated.
  6. Encourage the person with the eating disorder to take responsibility. Allow them to participate in treatment decisions.  Don’t shield the person from the consequences of having an eating disorder.  Seek consultation from a qualified professional.  The prognosis for recovery is always better when the eating disorder is identified early on.  Be certain to see a professional that specialized in the treatment of eating disorders.  If your loved one has weight loss, vomits, abuses laxatives or any physical complaints, she should see a physician.
  7. Try to stay patient.  The physical, psychological, behavioral, social, and cultural rehabilitation of a person with an eating disorder takes time.
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