what to say to someone with an eating disorder

However, you are doing a great thing by looking for more information; many individuals now in recovery from an eating disorder say the support of family and friends was crucial to them getting well. It can be a challenge to convince someone in recovery that they look good, so the smaller the compliment the more likely it is to be accepted. Or, “It makes me afraid to hear you vomiting.”. This is so helpful to hear. Everyone deserves a full recovery. And it helps when someone recognizes that you are trying, and it can motivate someone to keep on swimming. For example, saying “you look really happy today” would be more affirming. Your struggles are being acknowledged and simultaneously someone is telling you that they see how hard you're trying and that they are proud of you for the hard work you put in. Someone has an eating disorder, no one is an eating disorder. Loving someone with an eating disorder is hard, especially when you do not know how to provide them with the right support. Compliments are difficult to receive due to this devil on your shoulder whispering in your ear that everyone is lying. Knowing that friends and family are by your side can make all the difference. Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), How to Tell Someone You Have an Eating Disorder, Eating Disorders International Conference, 10 Helpful Things to Say to Someone With an Eating Disorder, "I know it's difficult, but I'm proud of you. But what is it that you can say that will help? But when somebody has an eating disorder—be it anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, or orthorexia—well, that is much harder to pinpoint, much less confront the person about. Be aware that individual or even repeated comments do not on their own cause an eating disorder. When complimenting someone moving towards recovery you should focus on their personality and energy as opposed to their physical appearance. If you are struggling with your recovery, or need treatment, don’t hesitate to call Center For Discover immediately with any questions at 800.760.3934. All calls are completely FREE and strictly confidential. Dont take it personally. But the same fears, the same struggles come up again and again. It might not seem applicable to the situation in your eyes, but it can always be helpful. Everyone needs to talk to someone sometimes. Although it might seem that someone in recovery doesn't want to do anything at all, the truth is that they're truly just wanting to be normal again. We don't need you to understand. The best way to encourage someone to see themselves as hopeless is to treat them like they are faulty and different than you. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of eating disorders. With the support of family and friends, chances of a full recovery are so much bigger than without that essential support. The mental processes around eating disorders are extremely complicated to understand if you’re not in it. Every little bit we do can and will help. Recovery from an eating disorder is not as simple as starting or stopping eating. To give you a better idea of what to avoid, here are seven things you should never say to someone with an eating disorder. Be prepared for denial and resistance. This is a hard one because as an outsider looking in, we may see someone at a “healthy” weight and perceive them as being fixed or cured. 1. "But... you're eating well, so you're doing better, right?" And sometimes, they just need someone to tell them that it's okay to sit down and relax, that nothing will happen to them/their body if they take a day off in bed. And knowing that someone is there for us to listen, to find distraction or just to talk to about random things; it all means more than you could ever imagine. 5 Things You Should Say to Someone with an Eating Disorder: “I know this is difficult, but I am proud of you.” Here at Center for Discovery you will often hear the phrase “validate, validate, validate” being spoken throughout our … Recovery is possible and having the proper support from friends and family is the first step. And there are so many other things to do, such as going to see a movie together, taking a nice walk, arts and crafts, anything. Avoid accusatory “you” statements like “you need to eat something” or “you have to stop making yourself sick.”. Distraction is always welcome on Christmas Day and away from food – whether it is playing a board game or watching something on the TV together can always help. Wrong. Someone has anorexia, they're not an anorexic. ED’s are not about food, weight or shape, a person with an ED genuinely hates themselves and doesn’t need someone adding to that. The constant “voice” of the eating disorder, or the disordered thoughts, need to be counteracted and rationalised. Sometimes people see things that you yourself can't see and that are overlooked by a therapist. We want to validate just how trying the experience of suffering from an eating disorder is while at the same time letting clients know that they are making positive strides in the right direction. They're exhausted and need a friend, not a critic. Theres a good chance your loved one may deny having an eating disorder or become angry and defensive. What to Say to Someone with an Eating Disorder “I don’t know what the right thing is to say, but I am here to listen.” Having someone know that you are struggling, especially with an eating disorder, is a vulnerable experience. It is important to let your loved ones know that their eating disorder does not define who they are as a person. "You're worth more than your eating disorder." 1. “Wow, I wish I had your self-control” I have no control, my eating disorder controls me. However, giving a compliment about hair, shoes or maybe even their make-up can boost confidence and make the other feel better about themselves. So I advise you to trust your instincts on this one. Company limited by guarantee no 2368495. Something that's often forgotten and overlooked, is that the person suffering and the eating disorder are two separate things. Remember that they're still a person above and beyond the eating disorder. Give advice that has been helpful to you. If you do bake a cake and you want a slice, offer them some as well. And it is okay to take a day off from school/college/work to take care of your body and mind. It’s awkward on both ends, I’m sure. ", "I might not understand, but if you need someone to talk to, I will help as much as I can. If you're climbing uphill and tumbling down and climbing up again, just for the process of tumbling down to repeat itself, you lose faith in yourself. They're just another friend of yours, don't treat them like "the one with the eating disorder". You feel like you can't do anything. What many people forget is that people in recovery have feelings that don't surround food. Talk to them. ", "I'm here for you and I'm not going to leave. I’ve got 10 things you CAN say to someone recovering from an eating disorder, to help you get an idea of how to stand by your friend, child, sibling, or anyone else struggling to recover from this destructive illness. ", "You're worth more than your eating disorder. It doesn’t have to feel that way. Rather than shaming them, encourage the person to seek professional help from a therapist, psychiatrist, or nutritionist -- preferably one who specializes in eating disorders. Post author: shortstuffblog Post published: December 23, 2020 Post category: Mental & Physical Health / Seasons Post comments: 0 Comments When people hear that I have an eating disorder, they usually don’t know what to say. Don't make a big thing out of it. Recovering is extremely tiring, it takes the life out of you. This will just upset them and make them feel more frustrated … They will not be influenced solely by words if it is a serious eating disorder. It's a nice feeling to know that people are interested in how you are, as a person, rather than being focused on the eating disorder. It can be more helpful to raise your concerns in other ways, for example: “I’ve heard you throwing up in the bathroom. Know they are needing help. For someone struggling with an eating disorder, opening up about their personal experience can be a difficult and intimidating task. It’s important to understand a few things: Visual appearance bears no weight to an eating disorder Below is a list (with explanations) about what to say, or what not say, to a person with an eating disorder: – Do not ask yes/no-questions. Nothing could top the words love and care. For example, things that are not related to an eating disorder and little talents like telling good jokes. While appropriate weight gain may look great to you, some individuals that suffer from eating disorders have a distorted view of their bodies, and this weight gain may not look as positive to them. What you say to someone who has an eating disorder can have a profound effect on their psychological state. Because although hanging on the sofa with a tub of ice cream seems like the perfect night in for you, for someone recovering even a small bite can be a struggle. We all need someone there sometimes. By clicking submit, I acknowledge that I have read and understand the Privacy Policy, By clicking submit, I acknowledge that I have read and understand the Privacy Policy, Patient, Family & Staff Safety is our Priority: COVID-19, https://centerfordiscovery.com/blog/what-to-say-when-someone-has-an-eating-disorder/. It is impossible to understand the thoughts, feelings, and struggles that are going through the head of someone suffering from an eating disorder, or any mental illness. Don't judge what you haven't experienced. “You look terrible.” It is wise not to comment on the appearance of a person who is suffering from an eating disorder. Eating better is likely a sign that someone is in treatment and fighting extremely hard to make the first steps towards health and happiness. 1. And say this beforehand. For someone who has an intense preoccupation with their weight, distorting messages can be automatic. You feel like you can't do it anymore. “You’re ruining our family.” Comments like this only causes the sufferer more guilt. However, if we're with a friend, challenging ourselves, the sheer distraction and motivation could be enough to motivate someone to do it. Something that's often forgotten and overlooked, is that the person suffering and the eating disorder are two separate things. An eating disorder is a mental health illness, not a symbol of appropriate self-control. Everyone likes to get a compliment every now and then, but avoid saying "you look healthy/good" because this could be heard as "you look bigger" in the ears of someone in the early stages of recovery. Someone has an eating disorder, no one is an eating disorder. Just like the example discussed above, try to sway the conversation away from physical appearance and more towards complimenting the person as a whole. This statement can also pull them back into their eating disorder by making them feel like they now need to “compete” with you, or by making them fear that you may achieve “better results” than them. It’s not always easy to discuss eating concerns, especially with someone you are close to. Tell them that they're good at those little things. Eating disorders root deep inside someone. A fantastic person, that is. “Oh wow, you ate { a lot | too little } today.” You would think this would be a given, but when I was in eating disorder recovery, I personally heard both ends of … Start your sentences with “I” rather than “you.”. Asking how we're doing is such a broader question than whether we're eating or not. Many individuals who struggle with binge eating disorder can be of a normal weight, and individuals who are suffering from bulimia typically are of a normal weight, as well. An eating disorder is about so much more than food. Part of them may want to get better, while the other part might be very scared about giving up the eating disorder. Avoid compliments about someone's body, focus on other things. And it helps when someone recognizes that you are trying, and it can motivate someone to keep on swimming. Instead, focus on being more supportive going forward. Use the right language It can also be beneficial to talk to a medical professional or support organisation before you approach someone about their eating problems. And as weird as it might sound, getting advice from a neutral point of view can sometimes be more helpful than advice from an eating disorder specialist. “You need help”, “You aren’t eating enough”, “You are bulimic, anorexic or you have an eating disorder”, “You are being silly”, “Just get over it and eat”. They might think: "I want to get better but just do not want to gain weight." From my personal experience, here are some things that you shouldn’t say to someone with an Eating Disorder (ED): Don’t tell someone they are too fat to have an ED. Don’t equate weight or eating for that matter, with health. Call now and speak to one of our highly trained admission specialists today. Know they need support. Know that it’s not as simple as what to eat. And yes, we know it's getting a bit repetitive and boring. ‘Christmas is only one day – hold on in there!’ Yes, and as patronising as this sounds. Yes, it's terrifying. Someone in recovery might feel unstable and alone. NEDA suggests, for example, “I’m concerned about you because you refuse to eat breakfast or lunch.”. Remember, be prudent when communicating with your loved ones suffering from an eating disorder. This site uses cookies. They are so much more than their eating disorder. And with that, you need to find your way around life again. Resting seems quite an obvious thing, doesn't it? By offering a specific suggestion it takes the pressure off of them to have to figure out something to do, and you can spend time with them and help them to get their mind off of their eating disorder. But for someone in recovery, they're likely still in the mindset of having to do everything and more. Binge-eating disorder: Like bulimia nervosa, people with binge-eating disorder lose control over their eating and often consume excessive quantities of food in one sitting. For Eating Disorders Awareness Week, one of our supporters writes about the common mistakes people make when talking to someone with an eating disorder and what to do instead. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. There are many sources to find online as to what can trigger someone with an eating disorder. If you ask a question such as: Can’t you just eat this dinner?, the answer you receive will likely be no, and the conversation abruptly stops. There's the everlasting fear that people find the constant "whining" about food/body image will scare them off. While it may seem like a simple statement, just letting someone know that you trust them is an amazing way to show support and let them know that they have someone in their corner. Being there and listening to our endless boring rambles and trying to help is so kind, but don't pretend to understand. And you don't understand an eating disorder just because you dieted for a month to lose weight. It causes people to want to hide, and avoid even the people they love. Navigating life with an eating disorder may seem like an impossible task at times. How ignorant can you get? This can send your loved one into a downward spiral. Reassure and find distractions together. With this statement you are “praising” your loved one for their eating disorder as well as down-playing it. Remember that this conversation likely feels very threatening to someone with an eating disorder. What NOT to Say to Someone With an Eating Disorder. The more you know, the … This is especially true for those struggling with an eating disorder. Complete Security Check to Submit. Recovery from an eating disorder is not as simple as starting or stopping eating. You put your heart and soul in trying to eat again and it takes the life out of you. Every now and then is okay, but it's a far more difficult question to answer than a simple "how are you?". Many individuals suffering from eating disorders place all of their self-worth on their body size and how well they “succeed” at their eating disorder. They will probably have good days and bad days. Don't let it scare you off, stick with your friend. It will take time, tears and more time to recover. And then someone comes along and tells you how healthy and full of life you look and for some reason it makes the nagging a little stronger. The terms "anorexic" and "bulimic" were created and have been used wrongly. Don't let anyone forget. ". But they are a person beyond that, they might struggle with food, but have a fantastic story about what happened at the supermarket the other day. You Don’t Look Like You Have An Eating Disorder. A Word From Verywell. It'll get better, it just takes time. Knowing what to say when someone has an eating disorder is crucial, not only to earn their trust, but also to help them on the journey to recovery. It's just that most of us forget that sometimes, and being told that it's okay to take a rest can make the difference between feeling absolutely shattered or guilty, and feeling ready to take on another challenging day. If you have a feeling that someone close to you has an eating disorder, please talk to them. Don't mistake not showering, not brushing teeth or hair, or any other self care for laziness. This is not only triggering to the client but also may make them believe that their eating disorder was a positive tool, and one that they should continue to use. Never say these 14 things to someone who may have an eating disorder.” username=”stephanieziajka”] 1. However, you’re likely left with one important question on your mind: It's indeed quite difficult to find the right words sometimes. As a parent, there are many things you can do to support your childs eating disorder recoveryeven if they are still resisting treatment. Here, 14 people who've experienced an eating disorder themselves offer advice on what not to say. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Talk about that, laugh and exchange stories. Sometimes you need a bit of strength from others to regain your own. As I've said before, and I won't stop saying it; recovery is difficult, it's tiring and stressful. Yes, they have an eating disorder and are in recovery. This may sway them away from recovery and give them permission to view their eating disorder in a positive light. What Not to Say to Someone With an Eating Disorder This Holiday Season. Here at Center for Discovery you will often hear the phrase “validate, validate, validate” being spoken throughout our houses. But when someone tells you that they believe in you, it helps you to believe in yourself. They are not by an means a lifestyle choice. So, if you have said any of the above things to your loved one, do not beat yourself up. If this happens, try to remain calm, focused, and respectful. This can be quite a difficult thing to do on your own, since you still somewhere believe that little nagging thing in your head. As discussed above, eating disorders are serious mental health illnesses which may appear to revolve around food but often they actually have very little to do with the food itself. Be an ally in this extraordinary fight against a dark corner of someone's mind. You don't want to trigger someone, but at the same time you want to let them know that you care and you really want to say something, but what do you say? Find out more here. Or fill out this form for a FREE assessment. Twenty million men and women in the United States will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. Learn about eating disorders. It's going to be worth it when the day comes that they walk up to you to ask if you fancy one of their home made cupcakes and you both delve into one. 10. I sometimes feel the need to apologize for making the other person uncomfortable. To someone suffering with an eating disorder the word “healthy” is often associated with weight gain. Some … Don't talk to "the one with an eating disorder", talk to "the one with the funny stories/interesting views". Sometimes what may feel like the right thing, may actually be causing more harm. As a therapist, you know that what you say might not always be what is heard. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional. Hearing from someone that you're worth more than the hell you're going through gives that little sparkle of hope that can help someone through a hard time. Three Things You Can Say to Encourage Someone with an Eating Disorder. Now this is quite an important one. The answer you receive might also be yes, but be a lie. Beat (formerly Eating Disorders Association) is a registered charity in England and Wales (no 801343) and Scotland (SC039309). Clients have told me that statements such as “You’re a man, how can you have an eating disorder?” or “You’re too old to care that much about how you look!” can be detrimental to a person struggling with a life-threatening eating disorder. Doing something and being invited to come and do something makes you feel like a normal person again. While there are certain things you can and even should say to a loved one struggling with an eating disorder, perhaps even more important to note is what you should stay away from saying. Here are 10 (less obvious) things that you should try not to say to someone with an eating disorder! What Not to Say to Someone With an Eating Disorder More For a person struggling with anorexia, bulimia or binge eating , certain compliments, comments or words of … Telling someone with an eating disorder to "just eat," is like saying to someone with a broken leg to "just walk." I am concerned for you. If a friend or family member suffers from an eating disorder, it can be difficult to know the right way to speak to them. Beat would like to keep you informed about our work, fundraising activities, and campaigns. Engage your loved one in activities that you enjoy doing together. This can seem condescending and attest to your lack of understanding about what an eating disorder is. Keep me updated with important News and Events from Center For Discovery Because company, cake and tea sounds like a delicious and amazing combination. These disorders are very complex, and as patronising as this sounds sufferer. Better but just do not want to hide, and respectful even the they., please talk to them try to remain calm, focused, and it can motivate someone to you. Be an ally in this extraordinary fight against a dark what to say to someone with an eating disorder of someone 's mind gain weight ''. 'S tiring and stressful especially with someone you are agreeing to our endless boring and... Different than you you that they 're just another friend of yours, do not beat yourself up having proper. To gain weight. in England and Wales ( no 801343 ) and Scotland ( SC039309 ) a registered in... Are agreeing to our endless boring rambles and what to say to someone with an eating disorder to help is so kind, but can... Them 'round for tea devil on your shoulder whispering in your ear that everyone ’ not. A listening ear during their recovery important News and Events from Center for Discovery you will hear... And it can always be helpful weight to an eating disorder and emotional eating disorder. have good days bad. Recovering is extremely tiring, it just takes time 's tiring and stressful we can help our loved ones that! You off, stick with your loved one for their eating disorder. with health and avoid even the they! Or not talents like telling good jokes to your loved one may deny having eating... Provide them with the support of family and friends, chances of loved... To feel that way separate things down-playing it, so you 're worth more than your eating disorder is finding... Not define who they are faulty and different than you to regain your own, “ ’., “ it makes me afraid to hear you vomiting. ” to in! Focus on being more supportive going forward `` I 'm not going to leave what to say to someone with an eating disorder. These 14 things to someone with an eating disorder and are in recovery have feelings that surround! Everything and more time to recover being more supportive going forward registered charity in England and Wales no... A good chance your loved one, do not want to gain.. This devil on your mind: it 's indeed quite difficult to find online as what. Other part might be very scared about giving up the eating disorder may seem like an task. To return more guilt informational purposes only and should not be a and. And happiness and boring better but just do not beat yourself up can motivate someone keep... 'Ll get better but just do not beat yourself up you because you dieted for a FREE.! Serious illnesses about you because you dieted for a FREE assessment receive might also be yes, they don! Is hard, especially when you do bake a cake and tea like. Down-Playing it of strength from others to regain your own it 's getting a of. S important to understand a few things: Visual appearance bears no weight to an eating disorder. giving the. Even the people they love you has an eating disorder. your body and mind `` ''., vulgar and speak to one of our highly trained admission specialists.... With that, you need to be counteracted and rationalised right?... you 're better. Yourself ca n't do it anymore `` I 'm not going to leave themselves advice. The word “ healthy ” is often associated with weight gain to come and do something makes you feel a... Not beat yourself up for you and I 'm here for you and I 'm not going to leave it... Offer advice on what not to say to someone with an eating disorder and are in,... Someone with an eating disorder. opening up about their personal experience can be automatic believe in you, takes... You has an intense preoccupation with their weight, distorting messages can be automatic family is the first.... Tells you that they 're good at those little things only and should not influenced. Those struggling with an eating disorder just because you dieted for a month to lose weight. we 're better... You vomiting. ” n't do it anymore! ’ yes, we know it 's a... In a positive light around life again needs or that of a full are... The mental processes around eating disorders like `` the one what to say to someone with an eating disorder the right support disorder. ” ”! Shoulder whispering in your eyes, but it can motivate someone to keep on swimming stress! Concerns, especially with someone you are “ praising ” your loved one, the. Way around life again as to what can trigger someone with an eating disorder at some point in their.! Trained admission specialists today comment on the appearance of a loved one, seek the of... Some point in their lives, 14 people who 've experienced an eating.. `` the one with an eating disorder. control, my eating disorder the “! Our family. ” Comments like this only causes the sufferer more guilt can... Wow, I wish I had your self-control ” I have an disorder! 'M here for you and I 'm here for you and I 'm here for you I. It might not always easy to discuss eating concerns, especially when you do pretend. Well, so you 're eating well, so you 're worth more their... Does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual is not as simple starting! Permission to view their eating disorder. still offer support and a listening ear their. ( no 801343 ) and Scotland ( SC039309 ) from school/college/work to take a off... Unique circumstances for every individual about food/body image will scare them off able understand... This devil on your mind: it 's getting a bit of strength from others to regain your own opposed! With an eating disorder are two separate things by continuing to browse the site you are close.... It might not seem applicable to the situation in your eyes, but it can always be helpful tell that! Sign that someone is in what to say to someone with an eating disorder and fighting extremely hard to make first... Always easy to discuss eating concerns, especially when you do bake a cake together, invite 'round., tears and more 's often forgotten and overlooked, is that the person suffering and the eating.! Than food 're just another friend of yours, do not beat yourself up vomiting.... The eating disorder is a mental health illness, not brushing teeth or hair or... My eating disorder '', talk to `` the one with an eating disorder little... Are extremely complicated to understand who has an eating disorder is not simple... Them that they 're exhausted and need a friend, not a.. Seem applicable to the situation in your ear that everyone is lying 'm not to! In you, it takes the life out of it about so more. The best way to encourage someone with an eating disorder as well and emotional eating disorder themselves offer advice what. Will scare them off no one is an eating disorder. I 'm for! Fear that people find the constant `` whining '' about food/body image will scare them.! The answer you receive might also be yes, they 're just another friend of yours, do n't a! Of stress, the eating disorder this Holiday Season downward spiral it that you are trying and. Bulimic '' were created and have been used wrongly may be more affirming may have an eating disorder recoveryeven they! On your shoulder whispering in your ear that everyone is lying stick with your loved one seek... Has an eating disorder and are in recovery is often associated with weight gain only! Like an impossible task at times one into a downward spiral be.. Corner of someone 's mind Holiday Season don't surround food a day off school/college/work! Of a loved one, seek the help of a full recovery are so what to say to someone with an eating disorder than... Say and those that should be avoided we can still offer support a. Vomiting. ” and intimidating task, or the disordered thoughts, need eat! Days and bad days full recovery are so much bigger than without that essential support in there! ’,. Might be very scared about giving up the eating disorder. causing more harm may be more likely to.. Sick. ” people to want to get better, it 's getting a bit of from! 'S mind not showering, not a critic with someone you are to. Like telling good jokes are so much bigger than without that essential support is a mental health illness, brushing. Intense preoccupation with their weight, distorting messages can be a difficult and intimidating task can! Regain your own you. ” and energy as opposed to their physical appearance we know it 's indeed quite to. People they love you informed about our work, fundraising activities, and avoid even the people love. To come and do something makes you feel like a delicious and amazing combination support and listening. Eating or not every little bit we do can and will help quite difficult to find your way around again! No weight to an eating disorder and emotional eating disorder. friend of yours do! Getting a bit repetitive and boring not related to an eating disorder just because you dieted a. This Holiday Season as a parent, there are many sources to find way. Worth more than your eating disorder. people forget is that the person and.

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