How to help a friend with an eating disorder - Eden Center

How to help a friend with an eating disorder

It can be hard to watch someone you love struggle with an eating disorder, especially if they are in denial about their condition. However, when it comes to long-term recovery, friends and family play a crucial role in helping people with eating disorders. 

Whether your friend has anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or another type of eating disorder, there are many ways that you can help them to come to terms with their illness and seek treatment. This is what you need to know. 

Learn about eating disorders

Many people hold misconceptions about eating disorders which can make the process of helping a friend with their illness much more difficult. Avoid saying something that could trigger an episode of unhealthy eating behaviors by finding out as much about eating disorders as you can. 

Read books, watch online videos and join forums that are specifically designed for friends and family of people with eating disorders. 

If you think someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder take the Eden Center for Eating Disorders quiz today.

Be honest 

When you sit down to talk to your friend about your concerns, make sure that you are open and honest about how you feel. Focus on specific behaviors that you have witnessed and use “I” statements such as “I have noticed you don’t eat when we go out to dinner” or “I am worried about how much you exercise.”

Do not use accusatory language, as this can make your friend or family member become defensive. 

Discuss treatment plans 

Although the mention of treatment may result in a negative reaction, it is important that you encourage them to seek professional help. If your friend does feel ready for anorexia treatment or whichever treatment is suitable for their specific eating disorder, you need to act fast as they may change their mind or start to withdraw from the process. 

Getting timely and effective treatment dramatically increases a person’s chances for recovery, so the sooner you can get your friend to seek help, the better. 

Tell someone 

Even if your friend has asked you to keep their condition a secret, it is important that you share your concerns with someone else. Whether you believe that your friend’s life is in danger at the moment or not, eating disorders can escalate very quickly, and you do not want your friend’s eating disorder to become so severe that they need to be hospitalized. 

You could choose to speak to their parents, a healthcare professional, or a faculty member. 

Look for resources together

If your friend is not ready to get professional help, you may want to look into some credible sources of information and advice online. Some national eating disorders non-profit orgnizations in the United States include The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness and Families Empowered and Supporting Treatment of Eating Disorders (F.E.A.S.T). 

Eating disorders are on the rise in the United States, as are admissions for anorexia treatment, so if you suspect that your friend is struggling with any aspect of eating or their weight, you must not ignore their unhealthy behaviors. 

Yes, it can be hard to talk to a friend who you think may have anorexia, bulimia, or another eating disorder, but your intervention could mean the difference between life and death. 

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Our admissions process starts with a phone call. We are here to listen and gain understanding of what you are experiencing; and how we can help. We will share with you our treatment process and the services we offer. After completing our free and confidential assessment, we will determine if we are an appropriate fit for you. We are here to help. Call for a free and confidential assessment today.

At Eden Center for Eating Disorders, we want you to know that we do understand. We want to listen, and we are here to help. Not because it’s our job, or because we are just providing a service – but because we care. We won’t judge, we will listen, act, and fully support you.

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