Helping a Friend Who Has an Eating Disorder
Like those with other health conditions, eating disorder sufferers often seek treatment with the encouragement of loved ones. Are you concerned about someone’s relationship with food, their body image, or behaviors that indicate the likelihood of an eating disorder? There are tips recommended by the National Eating Disorders Association for helping a person you care about. You’ll find them at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/.
The first and most important recommendation is to learn as much as possible about eating disorders. Skipping this step is why many interventions and discussions focused on convincing someone to get help—for any behavioral/health problem—end in disappointment. Why? When you have accurate information, your responses to any naturally defensive statements are more effective, educational, and helpful. This facilitates your loved one’s ability to self-diagnose. Shame and stigma reduce quickly. Less defensiveness is observed, emotions may be calmer, your loved one is likely to listen more readily, and the acceptance of help is more likely.
Beyond this key step, rehearse what you want to say. Set a private time and place to talk. Be honest, direct, and use "I" statements, not accusations (i.e., "I have noticed..." vs. "You must/need to...".
Learn more about the steps to helping a loved one or a friend at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.
Keith Stein |