How can you support someone with an eating disorder? And what can you say without being perceived as wrong? In last week’s blog post, we went through what kind of stupid comments our followers had heard about eating disorders. We asked what they wanted to hear instead and intend to share our compilation of the answers with you today.
What can you do as a relative?
It can be very heavy and difficult to see a loved one suffer from some form of eating disorder. It is difficult to know how to help, and here it is very important to keep in mind that you are not meant to cure the person but your role is to exist as a support. Also remember that it means a lot that you show that you see the problems – it can help the person get better.
If you notice that someone you know starts talking and thinking a lot about food and weight, starts avoiding and stops eating things, skipping meals or exercising unusually much, this may be a sign of an eating disorder. Then you should talk to the affected person without adding any guilt or shame. A person with an eating disorder can be easily affected by comments and perceive things wrong. Therefore, it becomes extra important for you as a relative not to talk about topics that can be triggering. Instead, ask how the person is feeling and avoid talking about food, weight, body and exercise. Your task is to be there as a support and therefore you should not point out or decide on any current food intake or weight. Prove to the person that you are there, no matter what.
If you are unsure of what you can say, take a look at some good comments written by our followers:
Show your support:
- I’m here for you, you can always talk to me. I will never judge you.
- You’re not alone. I’m here if you want to get well, we will do this together.
- It can take time and it’s ok. I will be here no matter how long it takes.
Show that you really care:
- We support you in this
- How are you feeling today?
- You deserve to feel good
- “You look happier” instead of “You look more healthy”
- Is there anything I can do to make it easier for you? I am listening to you.
- “You’re good as you are” – Remind the person of the good things, see the person without the eating disorder
Show that you believe in the person:
- I can see that you are trying
- I believe in you, don’t give up. You will be free from this!
- Everything will be okay, we will take one step at a time. You are so strong.
- I don’t know how you feel, but I understand that you think it’s really hard.
Remember that those who have eating disorders need professional help to get well. You as a relative can not alone get someone to recover from an eating disorder. Do not forget to take care of yourself as well and your wellbeing. Sign up here if you want access more material or receive newsletters about our parental support and community. If you have more thoughts or questions then check out our forum. You can also access strengthening exercises there.
Take care! // Mehrnosh