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Amaryllis October 15th, 2011 06:28 AM

Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
Maybe it's a friend, a family member or just someone you see that looks extremely ill. Eating disorders are hard to understand for people who've never had one, hell, people with eating disorders find it hard to understand.

Having help and support during and through your eating disorder/s is invaluable. It makes recovery so much less painful and lonely, it gives you someone you can lean and rely on when your world is falling apart(as well as your hair).

1. Be well informed. Before doing anything, you've got to know what you're dealing with here. It isn't just about wanting to be beautiful or skinny, body image isn't everything. You need to understand that you can't simply say, "Just eat", "Stop bingeing" or "Just be healthy". Eating disorders aren't that simple.

Here are some helpful websites:

- Something Fishy I basically owe part of my life to this website. This is the most important link you and the person with the eating disorder will need.
- Understanding Anorexia, Bulimia and Binge Eating
- Eating Disorders in Teens I don't think this really shows why but it does give you all the warning signs. I will further elaborate on the causes later in the thread.

Eating Disorder Books - How It Feels:
- Wasted by Marya Hornbacker It's quite graphic. A glimpse inside the minds of anorexics and bulimics. I strongly recommend it.
- Massive by Young Picador Written from the daughter of someone with an eating disorder, she later develops one, too.
- Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield An easy read, every page is a drawing. Doesn't so much focus on why but you can see what it does to a person.
- Monkey Taming by Judith Fathallah A book with all the insane things compulsive over exercisers and those with eating disorders. She goes to a mental hospital for teens and meets self-harmers and the like.

2. Approach with empathy. A lot of people lack this. Empathy is the most important part of helping anyone. Telling them to eat and saying "You're beautiful, why can't you see that?" or "Why are you so skinny?" or "Are you anorexic?" isn't going to get you or them, anywhere. Here are a couple tips on how to talk to them:

- Talk to them privately. Eating disorders aren't things they will want to announce out loud for the entire world to hear.
- Keep it to yourself. Unless s/he wants you to tell someone. Don't. However you should gently encourage him/her to tell.
- Prepare to be brushed off and lied to. When people asked me if I had an eating disorder, I told them I just had a magical metabolism.
- Listen. You have 2 ears and 1 mouth, use them in proportion.

3. Be positive and optimistic. Give them compliments. Remind them of good traits they have that don't have to do with how they look. Keep pushing them forwards, no matter how many times they fall back. Let them know it is possible and that you are there for them through better or worse.

4. Express your concern. Instead of focusing on how s/he's becoming "no fun". Say how worried you are for his/her life. How miserable s/he seems and how much you care.

5. Don't comment on anyone's body size. Don't say how this type of slim is good and s/he should aim for that. Don't say this or that person's fat. Don't talk about anyone's weight loss or gain. Take weight and size out of the equation. Hell, don't even say how ugly or pretty someone is. You gotta show him/her that looks don't matter.

6. Avoid calories, healthy eating and exercise. Don't focus on food and exercise. Don't talk about calories, healthy eating or whatever it is. You'll be adding fuel to the fire. If you exercise, don't do it in front of your friend. Often, it is extremely triggering.

7. Set a good example. Eat normally, like you always do, if you eat normally. Help them through. S/he may have a hard time eating in front of people but urge them to, slowly. S/he may eat very slowly, not finish his or her food or chop it up into little piece or attempt to hide it. People with eating disorders have some weird habits. Be gentle and give them time. It takes effort and time to recover from an eating disorder. Urge them to take that extra bite or stop if they're binge eaters but do not force or push.

8. Encourage them to seek help from professionals. This is extremely important. Recovering all on your own with no professional help is very hard to do. If they trust you enough, you could even offer to go with him/her for the first session. However, you should respect your friend's choices.

9. Don't jump in the wagon. Do not, I repeat, do not, develop an eating disorder. Do not start counting calories and competing to be thinner. This will only make it worse. Skinny isn't worth the consequences. Eating disorders aren't worth the hell you will put on your mind and body and that of those around you. They are not coping mechanisms. This leads me to another, do not compare your bodies. Body comparison only makes things worse. Don't say "She's pretty than her." or anything along those lines.

10. Always be there for him/her. When I had my eating disorders, no one talked to me. It was absolutely terrible. No one spoke to, sat with or even looked at me. It couldn't be any worse. True, I was a walking black hole but I wanted someone to help me, so, so badly. I just wanted a friend or at least, for people to act like I still existed. Support and friendship is priceless. It makes the road to recovery so much easier and less painful. No matter how they push you away, stay with them, even if you don't talk about their eating disorders, stay with them. They need it.

Well, good luck. You can also link your friend to this Guide to EDs - Recovery and What to Expect. And tell them this: Life is what you make it. Always has been, always will be.

Kaius October 15th, 2011 07:21 AM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
This has helped me so much to read Z, thank you :) My girlfriend has an eating disorder and at times I feel completely lost as to what to do. Its distressing to watch but its even more distressing knowing you can't help as much as you want to.

Amaryllis October 15th, 2011 08:31 AM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kaius (Post 1475895)
This has helped me so much to read Z, thank you :) My girlfriend has an eating disorder and at times I feel completely lost as to what to do. Its distressing to watch but its even more distressing knowing you can't help as much as you want to.

I'm glad it's helped, Aaron. If your girlfriend's who I think she is, I really, truly, strongly believe she'll be okay. She's so kind, lovely, tough and empathetic. She'll be okay. Just stand by her through it all. Nothing's worse than being alone when you need support. Oh, another thing, encourage her to speak up instead of keeping it inside. Most of the time we learn to squish every bit of pain we feel into our eating disorders. And if she's a perfectionist(we tend to be), show her she doesn't need to be perfect.

She's your girlfriend so there's that connection between you. Just don't give up on her.

Donkey October 15th, 2011 12:41 PM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
http://profile.ak.fbcdn.net/hprofile..._8355665_n.jpg

Angel Androgynous October 15th, 2011 12:53 PM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
Z, congratulations on this sticky! You are such a big help... you deserve every stick particle of it... and so much more. :P <3

Amaryllis October 15th, 2011 07:17 PM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Angel Androgynous (Post 1476098)
Z, congratulations on this sticky! You are such a big help... you deserve every stick particle of it... and so much more. :P <3

Awwwww Ida. You know, you're the kindest, sweetest, nicest, bubbliest, most optimistic and cheerful person I have ever met. You're just such a ray of light. Thanks sweetheart. Wifeyz forever and PW4LYF! :3

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rafiki (Post 1476078)

it took me about 3 minutes to understand that picture lol. And holy bloody ecking crap!!! You changed your username! I like it xD so manly.

AppealToReason October 15th, 2011 08:19 PM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
Grats on another sticky, Z.
Your helpful threads & posts are greatly appreciated.

StoppingTime October 15th, 2011 08:22 PM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
Amazing work on the sticky. Anything I've ever read that you've written is very helpful. You do an amazing job here.

kklondike February 17th, 2012 09:13 PM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
OMG thank you so much. my bff suddenly dropped like 35 pounds over the summer and i was so worried! of course, being stupid I did exactly what i shouldn't have: told her to "just eat" and sometimes try to force her. This helped me a lot on what to do :)

nicnicolas1 February 21st, 2012 08:15 PM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
make sure they know how much you care research hat they have and talk to them about it

rijames99 November 8th, 2015 12:08 PM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
Why in a topic about "eating disorders," do you only address undereating and not include overeating, which is a much larger and more significant problem in our society?

Tim987 May 23rd, 2016 06:57 AM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
Thank you so much i have a friend and shes getting help and has an eating plan i really needed to learn more about how to help her she was doing it alone without me

swiftshadowolf January 16th, 2017 12:28 AM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
I too have a friend with an eating disorder, anorexia to be exact. I try to understand what she tells me about her experience but it all seems kind of alien to me. I understand some parts of what she says but others I just don't get at all. I would lover to be able to understand what she is going through fully because all I want to do is help her out. I hate seeing her cry.

hayley2003 September 9th, 2017 04:08 PM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
i am kinda curious about this stuff. there is a girl at school who i think has some kinda eating problem, she is super skinny, kinda looks like a ghost or something.

Sere September 10th, 2017 09:47 PM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by hayley2003 (Post 3569924)
i am kinda curious about this stuff. there is a girl at school who i think has some kinda eating problem, she is super skinny, kinda looks like a ghost or something.

Just fyi this could be someone who is simply skinny, you should ask about it if you can but don't just assume that they have an eating disorder. I looked and still somewhat look like a ghost/skeleton and I do not have an eating disorder. Try to find out if she has a problem and help her if she does :)

Melinda2002 November 24th, 2017 12:45 PM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
Very good list about how to deal with eating disorders.
It is sometimes very hard to realize that we have a problem we have to deal with.

Eric Rom December 18th, 2017 01:26 AM

Re: Helping someone with an eating disorder
 
@Amaryllis

Thank you for this list. But I feel that one way to really motivate someone is to show them stories of people who have done it. Like before and after pics, etc. They have a great impact.
Probably even sharing the progress on Instagram will attract many supporters who will motivate you ufrther.


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