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eating disorder things to note

Things to Note When Supporting Someone with Eating Disorder

May 6th, 2022

Eating disorders are abnormal eating habits that may impact one’s health and entire life negatively. Several factors may cause eating disorders, like obsessive-compulsive personality traits, poor reaction to stress, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, poor body image, and a high level of perfectionism.

Symptoms of Eating Disorders

When someone has an eating disorder, they tend to:

  • Eat obsessively
  • Skip meals erratically
  • Follow overly strict and unreasonable diet plans
  • Starve themselves
  • Misuse food supplements
  • Dislike their weight and body shape

Although there’s no known root cause of eating disorders, some eating disorders are peoples’ ways of dealing with their emotional issues, like poor body image, and mental health disorders like depression or anxiety.

They are also usually accompanied by overly critical thoughts about their weight and body image. This leads to a dangerous cycle of overeating or undereating.

Things to Note When Supporting Someone With an Eating Disorder


If you’re not experiencing an eating disorder, it might be difficult to understand a friend or family member who is. However, it’s near impossible to help them overcome it if you can’t communicate with them.

To help you understand and support your loved ones who are dealing with eating disorders, here are some things you should keep in mind:


1. Communication is key:

Communication is key, but understand that it’s not a walk in the park. Most people with an eating disorder are afraid to ask for help. This is usually due to low self-esteem and depression which make them feel unworthy of help.

If you notice any symptoms of an eating disorder in a loved one, don’t wait for them to come out of their shell and talk to you about it. Reach out to them and allow them to express themselves.

It may take a while for them to come around, but be relentless in your efforts. They may just be too scared to talk about what they’re going through and ask for help, so make it easier for them. Do not allow your loved ones to suffer in silence.


2. Patience and kindness go hand in hand:

Sometimes, it might be difficult for them to admit that they have a problem. If this happens, don’t get frustrated and lash out at them. This may make them retreat into their shell and that is, by all means, a bad move.

Be kind and gentle. Reassure them of your undying loyalty, support,.and willingness to be there for them.

When they are ready to speak up, remind them that they are not being judged, and do not judge them. It’s not about you; it’s about them — their feelings, why they do what they do, and how they can be better.


3. Do away with ultimatums:

Except the person in question is a child, you should understand that the decision to become better begins with them.

Simply put, even though you have their best interest at heart, don’t be pushy. For instance: don’t try to force an anorexic person to eat. Good intentions, wrong application.

Doing that might just let them become more secretive or resentful towards you. Force or ultimatums will not solve anything. They should take their time. And you should be there every step of the way, cheering them on!


4. Encourage them to seek professional help:

It’s one thing to seek help; it’s another to seek help in the right places. As much as you love your wife or brother or friend, you’re not a therapist or nutritionist. The best you can do is support them and encourage them to seek help in the right places.

Besides, eating disorders are more complex than most people realize. No matter how kind, supportive, and patient you are, only a doctor is in the best position to help your loved one.

Hence, you should take/accompany them to a primary care clinic to see a doctor who will ascertain the situation and recommend possible treatment options.


5. Do not generalize:

Since the root cause of most eating disorders is more mental than physical, the treatment options may differ from person to person. Whatever works for your loved one, stick by them.


Eating disorders are not ailments to take lightly. “Love yourself” speeches don’t cut it, either. They’re usually more complex and require the attention of a medical doctor who you can find at a community health care clinic in your neighborhood. Don’t forget to contact us ASAP if you have further questions about eating disorders and how to deal with them.


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