Know someone with an eating disorder?
If you thought someone might be affected by an eating disorder, what could you do?
- Give time to listen to them, even if you think your friendship is being rejected.
- Use basic communication skills - non judgemental acceptance, openness, honesty and understanding.
- Don’t walk on egg shells or panic, but do take them seriously.
- Talk to them, but take the focus off food. listen to and explore wider concerns - how they feel about themselves, how they relate to others.
- Think about what you are going to say to them. “You’re looking better” may sound to them like “you’re getting fat now” – their worst nightmare coming true. So tell them what you see or feel, e.g. “you're smiling today”.
- Sensitively encourage them to be assertive and express emotion.
- Recognise their strengths, value them for themselves.
- Offer friendship, say that you care and try to include them in what you are doing. They may not agree to join in, but will feel valued as a person if you've asked.
- Maintain clear boundaries - be clear and consistent.
- Try to establish realistic targets and standards. Maintain balance in food / family / life.
- Encourage them to take responsibility for their own lives. This will probably mean them taking a bit of a risk with things, rather than aiming for perfection.
- However, we learn most from failures as they create learning opportunities.