If you suspect that a friend or a loved one has an eating disorder, you may want to offer help, but don’t know how. You may also be worried that they might refuse help or afraid that you’ll say things that can only hurt them. These concerns are just normal, but you shouldn’t let them stop you from offering help and support.
Learn more about eating disorders, so you’ll understand better what sufferers are going through. This can also help you prepare for dealing with their concerns or talk to a loved one if they respond with denial or anger. Know that people with such disorders feel extreme guilt, anxiety, shame, and may not know that they have a problem.
Find a Caring Environment
When voicing out your concerns, find a place that supports open conversation. Treatment centers for anorexia nervosa note that it is better to approach a loved one in an environment where they feel safe and comfortable. Be sure not to comment on their body shape and appearance. Instead of criticizing or lecturing, explain to them why you are concerned and how much you care for them.
Mind How You Talk
While you may have good intentions, shaming or blaming them won’t help. The same is also true for offering solutions like, “All you need to is eat”. Use “I” statements when offering advice like, “I am worried about you”. Note that eating disorders are complex mental illnesses, and simply telling them to change their attitudes and behaviors will not help.
It is normal for people with eating disorders to deny that they have a problem or refuse help. Continue to offer support and don’t give up. Sometimes, it may take time for them to open up or talk about their worries. Always let them know that you care and you will be there to support or when they need someone to talk to.
Apart from these tips, you should also encourage professional help and treatment. Note that early diagnosis have can reduce the severity of the illness and improve chances of long-term recovery.