Eating disorders (ED) involve dangerous eating behaviors that harm the body and hinder people from receiving adequate nutrition. Binging and purging habits as well as long-term food restriction have serious medical repercussions, including heart attacks, digestive disorders, and bone loss.
Psychotherapies (such as talk therapy) and certain medications can provide invaluable assistance. If you or someone you know is struggling, read the following article or some tips.
1. Be Prepared for Resistance
Watching someone close to you damage their body through disordered eating behaviors such as strict dieting, binging and purging can be heartbreaking, especially when they try to convince you there’s no issue at hand. But it is crucial that we remain firm and objective while remaining impartial, without engaging in accusations, blame shifting or confrontational responses.
Be prepared for strong reactions when approaching someone with an ED (www.helpguide.org/eating-disorders/helping-someone-with-an-eating-disorder.htm); they could deny its existence, become angry and even strike out against you. Remain calm while communicating your concern.
EDs are at their core about painful emotions and internal conflict – not food – and therefore treating those issues is paramount for recovery. EDs often develop as an attempt to manage life’s pressures and challenges. Treatment (which you can click here to learn about) aims to restore nutritional needs while building constructive ways of managing emotions.
Eating disorder treatment often requires a team of professionals, including medical doctors, psychologists, nutritionists and dietitians, nurses and sometimes physical therapists. Nutrition counseling provided by registered dietitians is often essential in creating balanced meal plans and setting dietary goals; psychotherapy also plays a significant role in treating EDs by helping individuals recognize and address negative thoughts or emotions that lead them to disordered eating behaviors.
2. Take Care of Yourself
EDs are serious mental illnesses that can have dire, life-threatening health repercussions. When someone close to you suffers from one, your own wellbeing will also be at stake; learn how to look out for yourself while remaining an effective support system.
Encourage them to visit a doctor if they haven’t already. Help them make an appointment and offer to go with them; once there, teach them about all available treatments such as outpatient (once weekly therapy or intensive outpatient ED treatment).
In some cases, people need inpatient hospital or residential treatment programs which combine housing and eating disorder treatment services; furthermore, finding local groups for family members of those living with EDs may provide invaluable support and hope as family counseling can help in most cases. It’s never a bad idea to have more loved ones involved.
3. Be a Good Listener
People living with an eating disorder tend to be highly critical of themselves and their bodies, often feeling overweight or somehow being flawed in some way. This can cause them to restrict food or engage in behaviors that undermine recovery efforts. Family and friends need to help these individuals realize they’re not fat or unhealthy – encourage body-positive activities such as yoga, exercise or hobbies like knitting or embroidery that bring pleasure.
Avoid discussing weight and food at length as this will only lead to arguments and power struggles between you and your loved one. Instead, focus on their feelings and emotions as a way of improving their well-being.
Raising an alarm about an ED can be challenging when you fear you’ll say the wrong thing or alienate a loved one. But it is crucial to speak up when warning signs surface; psychotherapy remains the preferred approach when treating EDs; but this takes time as healthy coping skills must first be developed and then overcome the Contemplation Stage of an ED.
4. Be a Good Supporter
Assisting someone you care for who has an eating disorder requires being an effective advocate and supporter. By offering additional aid and encouragement for professional treatment for their eating disorder, you may help their recovery journey significantly faster. There are various things you can do to assist, including encouraging them to seek assistance for it.
EDs are more than simply unhealthy eating habits; they’re often used as a way for individuals to cope with emotions such as anxiety and depression. If someone you care for seems anxious or depressed, offering support and encouragement could make a big difference in their wellbeing.
As part of your support, it can also be useful to act as a positive role model by eating healthily and not making comments about dieting or body positivity that can trigger eating disordered behaviors in those you’re helping. People suffering from EDs will require different forms of treatment.