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.