Posted by: cindy | July 20, 2008

How Can I Help Someone With Eating Disorders? Part III

  1. Remember there is no single cause for an individual’s eating disorder.  Don’t blame yourself.  Your job is to be supportive.  Looking for reasons and blaming the past is counterproductive.  Blame only hinders the healing process making the eating disordered person even more guilty and ashamed.  Eating disorders are very complicated and causes are always a combination of individual, family and cultural factors.
  2. Share your thoughts, feelings and frustrations (without discussing the person) with others who are involved.  Also talk directly to the person with the eating disorder without laying guilt or blame.  Admit that you sometimes feel angry, frustrated, helpless or afraid.  Showing these feelings gives her permission to feel or express her feelings.  Realize the importance of patience and that recovery is a gradual process.
  3. Be a good role model around food and when discussing food or weight related issues.
  4. Take care of your own social and emotional needs. If you are exhausted (emotionally or physically), you won’t be able to provide emotional support.
  5. Compassion does not mean being manipulated by the person.  Require that the person be responsible for his or her behavior and deal with the consequences of it.  Don’t be afraid to upset her.  She needs to learn to deal with frustration, diappointment and anger.  Avoid urges to protect the person from the natural consequences of her behavior.  Pain caused by consequences may be necessary for recovery.
  6. Remember the person has an eating disorder, but don’t let the person’s identity get too wrapped up on that.  Refrain from speaking of “the anorexic” or “the bulimic”.
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