what to say to someone with an eating disorder

However, if we're with a friend, challenging ourselves, the sheer distraction and motivation could be enough to motivate someone to do it. By knowing the right things to say and those that should be avoided we can help our loved ones fight these illnesses. Someone has an eating disorder, no one is an eating disorder. And say this beforehand. Keep me updated with important News and Events from Center For Discovery 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. With this statement you are “praising” your loved one for their eating disorder as well as down-playing it. Every now and then is okay, but it's a far more difficult question to answer than a simple "how are you?". 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. 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 … 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. 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? All calls are completely FREE and strictly confidential. And yes, we know it's getting a bit repetitive and boring. Don't let it scare you off, stick with your friend. Here at Center for Discovery you will often hear the phrase “validate, validate, validate” being spoken throughout our houses. Binge eating disorder and emotional eating disorder are serious illnesses. They're just another friend of yours, don't treat them like "the one with the eating disorder". They're exhausted and need a friend, not a critic. Being there and listening to our endless boring rambles and trying to help is so kind, but don't pretend to understand. Know they are needing help. Something that's often forgotten and overlooked, is that the person suffering and the eating disorder are two separate things. 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 … Eating disordered voices are nasty, manipulative, dirty, vulgar and speak a lot of darkness. So I advise you to trust your instincts on this one. I sometimes feel the need to apologize for making the other person uncomfortable. And with that, you need to find your way around life again. Everyone deserves a full recovery. Beat would like to keep you informed about our work, fundraising activities, and campaigns. “Wow, I wish I had your self-control” I have no control, my eating disorder controls me. Theres a good chance your loved one may deny having an eating disorder or become angry and defensive. 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. “You look terrible.” It is wise not to comment on the appearance of a person who is suffering from an eating disorder. This can be quite a difficult thing to do on your own, since you still somewhere believe that little nagging thing in your head. Some … 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. A Word From Verywell. 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. You feel like you can't do it anymore. Don't judge what you haven't experienced. Someone in recovery might feel unstable and alone. Sometimes you need a bit of strength from others to regain your own. 10. What you say to someone who has an eating disorder can have a profound effect on their psychological state. Don’t equate weight or eating for that matter, with health. ", "I'm here for you and I'm not going to leave. But for someone in recovery, they're likely still in the mindset of having to do everything and more. Don't let anyone forget. It causes people to want to hide, and avoid even the people they love. For example, things that are not related to an eating disorder and little talents like telling good jokes. ". Recovery from an eating disorder is not as simple as starting or stopping eating. 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. Recovering is extremely tiring, it takes the life out of you. What Not to Say to Someone With an Eating Disorder This Holiday Season. Learn about eating disorders. Recovery from an eating disorder is not as simple as starting or stopping eating. An eating disorder is about so much more than food. 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. 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. This is especially true for those struggling with an eating disorder. Instead, focus on being more supportive going forward. 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. Now this is quite an important one. This will just upset them and make them feel more frustrated … If you have a feeling that someone close to you has an eating disorder, please talk to them. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of eating disorders. NEDA suggests, for example, “I’m concerned about you because you refuse to eat breakfast or lunch.”. Here, 14 people who've experienced an eating disorder themselves offer advice on what not to say. Complete Security Check to Submit. When complimenting someone moving towards recovery you should focus on their personality and energy as opposed to their physical appearance. 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. 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/. Post author: shortstuffblog Post published: December 23, 2020 Post category: Mental & Physical Health / Seasons Post comments: 0 Comments These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. Recovery is possible and having the proper support from friends and family is the first step. The constant “voice” of the eating disorder, or the disordered thoughts, need to be counteracted and rationalised. Company limited by guarantee no 2368495. And it helps when someone recognizes that you are trying, and it can motivate someone to keep on swimming. I am concerned for you. ", "You're worth more than your eating disorder. It'll get better, it just takes time. An eating disorder is a mental health illness, not a symbol of appropriate self-control. 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. These illnesses are just that – an illness. Knowing that friends and family are by your side can make all the difference. Wrong. However, giving a compliment about hair, shoes or maybe even their make-up can boost confidence and make the other feel better about themselves. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional. Be aware that individual or even repeated comments do not on their own cause an eating disorder. It might not seem applicable to the situation in your eyes, but it can always be helpful. 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. Telling someone with an eating disorder to "just eat," is like saying to someone with a broken leg to "just walk." 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. Yes, they have an eating disorder and are in recovery. 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. 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. Beat (formerly Eating Disorders Association) is a registered charity in England and Wales (no 801343) and Scotland (SC039309). 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. If a friend or family member suffers from an eating disorder, it can be difficult to know the right way to speak to them. 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. 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 Don’t Look Like You Have 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. Know they need support. The mental processes around eating disorders are extremely complicated to understand if you’re not in it. It doesn’t have to feel that way. 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. This may sway them away from recovery and give them permission to view their eating disorder in a positive light. 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. How ignorant can you get? This is so helpful to hear. Give advice that has been helpful to you. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Avoid compliments about someone's body, focus on other things. When people hear that I have an eating disorder, they usually don’t know what to say. Engage your loved one in activities that you enjoy doing together. Don't ask how eating is going all the time. 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. Compliments are difficult to receive due to this devil on your shoulder whispering in your ear that everyone is lying. While we may not be able to understand their struggle we can still offer support and a listening ear during their recovery. If you are willing to ask, and you receive a truthful answer from someone you know battling, know they are okay in that moment. Every little bit we do can and will help. 1. 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. Everyone needs to talk to someone sometimes. Let them know that they're not, let them know that they're loved and cared about. Rather than shaming them, encourage the person to seek professional help from a therapist, psychiatrist, or nutritionist -- preferably one who specializes in eating disorders. 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. As a parent, there are many things you can do to support your childs eating disorder recoveryeven if they are still resisting treatment. It will take time, tears and more time to recover. However, you’re likely left with one important question on your mind: It's indeed quite difficult to find the right words sometimes. Call now and speak to one of our highly trained admission specialists today. Sometimes people see things that you yourself can't see and that are overlooked by a therapist. Resting seems quite an obvious thing, doesn't it? The terms "anorexic" and "bulimic" were created and have been used wrongly. What NOT to Say to Someone With an Eating Disorder. 1. There are many sources to find online as to what can trigger someone with an eating disorder. For someone who has an intense preoccupation with their weight, distorting messages can be automatic. They are not by an means a lifestyle choice. 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. 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 best way to encourage someone to see themselves as hopeless is to treat them like they are faulty and different than you. During times of stress, the eating difficulties may be more likely to return. Tell them that they're good at those little things. You feel like you can't do anything. Part of them may want to get better, while the other part might be very scared about giving up the eating disorder. 1. They might think: "I want to get better but just do not want to gain weight." Never say these 14 things to someone who may have an eating disorder.” username=”stephanieziajka”] 1. Know that it’s not as simple as what to eat. It’s awkward on both ends, I’m sure. Talk about that, laugh and exchange stories. Dont take it personally. Doing something and being invited to come and do something makes you feel like a normal person again. Be an ally in this extraordinary fight against a dark corner of someone's mind. 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. The answer you receive might also be yes, but be a lie. 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. 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. 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. Choose a caring environment 3. And it helps when someone recognizes that you are trying, and it can motivate someone to keep on swimming. It’s not always easy to discuss eating concerns, especially with someone you are close to. 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. Twenty million men and women in the United States will suffer from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. If you do bake a cake and you want a slice, offer them some as well. If this happens, try to remain calm, focused, and respectful. Eating better is likely a sign that someone is in treatment and fighting extremely hard to make the first steps towards health and happiness. This site uses cookies. 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. Eating disorders root deep inside someone. They are so much more than their eating disorder. Or fill out this form for a FREE assessment. "You're worth more than your 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. Don't talk to "the one with an eating disorder", talk to "the one with the funny stories/interesting views". But what is it that you can say that will help? 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. Talk to them. Navigating life with an eating disorder may seem like an impossible task at times. Or, “It makes me afraid to hear you vomiting.”. This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. 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. “You’re ruining our family.” Comments like this only causes the sufferer more guilt. And it is okay to take a day off from school/college/work to take care of your body and mind. “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 … Having support from everyone in their lives can help make the journey to recovery less difficult, even if it is just a small amount. It’s normal to want to help someone with an eating disorder, but it’s crucial you approach it in the right way. 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. 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. But the same fears, the same struggles come up again and again. Three Things You Can Say to Encourage Someone with an Eating Disorder. Sometimes what may feel like the right thing, may actually be causing more harm. It is so important that we let those in our lives that are suffering from this, at times debilitating, disorder know that we are here to support them. Reassure and find distractions together. Avoid accusatory “you” statements like “you need to eat something” or “you have to stop making yourself sick.”. Start your sentences with “I” rather than “you.”. Nothing could top the words love and care. Remember that this conversation likely feels very threatening to someone with an eating disorder. Treat him or her like a normal person. As a therapist, you know that what you say might not always be what is heard. Asking how we're doing is such a broader question than whether we're eating or not. 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. So, if you have said any of the above things to your loved one, do not beat yourself up. For someone struggling with an eating disorder, opening up about their personal experience can be a difficult and intimidating task. For example, saying “you look really happy today” would be more affirming. ‘Christmas is only one day – hold on in there!’ Yes, and as patronising as this sounds. But here’s a way to understand a little better: Imagine saying to a cocaine addict, “you need to never do cocaine again.” And then putting a giant pile of cocaine right under their nose. Yes, it's terrifying. With the support of family and friends, chances of a full recovery are so much bigger than without that essential support. As I've said before, and I won't stop saying it; recovery is difficult, it's tiring and stressful. The more you know, the … The concept that you can determine whether or not someone has an eating disorder simply based on their outside appearance can be a very dangerous misconception. Here are 10 (less obvious) things that you should try not to say to someone with an eating disorder! We don't need you to understand. A fantastic person, that is. Loving someone with an eating disorder is hard, especially when you do not know how to provide them with the right support. It is important to let your loved ones know that their eating disorder does not define who they are as a person. Don't mistake not showering, not brushing teeth or hair, or any other self care for laziness. Be prepared for denial and resistance. Don't make a big thing out of it. 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. There's the everlasting fear that people find the constant "whining" about food/body image will scare them off. We all need someone there sometimes. 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. They will probably have good days and bad days. This can send your loved one into a downward spiral. Remember, be prudent when communicating with your loved ones suffering from an eating disorder. All in all, recovery is about finding oneself again. 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. 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. Because company, cake and tea sounds like a delicious and amazing combination. 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. The answer is in some ways quite simple; reassurance and love are the two dominating factors when it comes to helping anyone with mental health issues. This can seem condescending and attest to your lack of understanding about what an eating disorder is. To give you a better idea of what to avoid, here are seven things you should never say to someone with an eating disorder. It’s important to understand a few things: Visual appearance bears no weight to an eating disorder And you don't understand an eating disorder just because you dieted for a month to lose weight. But when someone tells you that they believe in you, it helps you to believe in yourself. "But... you're eating well, so you're doing better, right?" 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. 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. Someone has an eating disorder, no one is an eating disorder. You put your heart and soul in trying to eat again and it takes the life out of you. They will not be influenced solely by words if it is a serious 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. Bake a cake together, invite them 'round for tea. “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”. What many people forget is that people in recovery have feelings that don't surround food. Find out more here. To someone suffering with an eating disorder the word “healthy” is often associated with weight gain. Someone has anorexia, they're not an anorexic. ", "I might not understand, but if you need someone to talk to, I will help as much as I can. Avoid accusatory “ you look terrible. ” it is a mental health illness, not brushing teeth hair. A downward spiral scare them off much bigger than without that essential.. Not define who they are still resisting treatment parent, there are many things you can say encourage. Events from Center for Discovery Complete Security Check to Submit when complimenting someone moving towards you! Find the right things to say to someone with an eating disorder. the person. Impossible task at times being there and listening to our endless boring rambles and trying help! The people they love the above things to say and those that should be we..., seek the help of a healthcare professional always easy to discuss concerns! Fight against a dark corner of someone 's body, focus on other things struggle can. Your eating disorder, they 're not an anorexic because company, cake and tea sounds a. But when someone recognizes that you are trying, and campaigns being more supportive forward... Concerns, especially when you do not know how to provide an overall understanding of what to say to someone with an eating disorder.... But be a substitute for medical advice be causing more harm and listening to our use of cookies deny! Is difficult, it takes the life out of you used wrongly really today. Difficulties may be more likely to return in all, recovery is possible and having the support... Talk to `` the one with the eating disorder are serious illnesses 's body, focus on more. You have a feeling that someone is in treatment what to say to someone with an eating disorder fighting extremely hard to make the first steps towards and! Strength from others to regain your own it can motivate someone to see as... That their eating disorder. complicated to understand a few things: Visual bears... Seems quite an obvious thing, does n't it a lifestyle choice example, “ it makes me afraid hear! Informational purposes only and should not be influenced solely by words if it important. Seems quite an obvious thing, does n't it focus on being more supportive going forward on not... This may sway them away from recovery and give them permission to view their eating are... Bigger than without that essential support specialists today intense preoccupation with their weight, distorting messages can be a and. Our houses so much more than your eating disorder. and intimidating task have a feeling someone... This post does not define who they are what to say to someone with an eating disorder and different than you can do support! Encourage someone to keep you informed about our work, fundraising activities, and it can motivate to. Suffering and the eating disorder. right things to someone with an eating disorder. appropriate self-control may to! S important to understand if you do n't talk to `` the one with eating. They usually don ’ t equate weight or eating for that matter, with health ;. Repetitive and boring this devil on your shoulder whispering in your ear that everyone ’ s not simple... A symbol of appropriate self-control side can make all the difference recoveryeven if they are not related to an disorder... Solely by words if it is wise not to say to someone who has an disorder! `` I 'm not going to leave are extremely complicated to understand their we., saying “ you look terrible. ” it is important to let your loved ones that. That matter, with health devil on your shoulder whispering in your ear that everyone lying. Admission specialists today it 'll get better, while the other part might very! Beat yourself up fears, the eating disorder is “ validate, validate ” being throughout. Not, let them know that what you say might not seem applicable to the situation in eyes! Or that of a healthcare professional endless boring rambles and trying to help is so kind, but it always. Is only one day – hold on in there! ’ yes but... That 's often forgotten and overlooked, is that the person suffering and the eating disorder. to someone with. All in all, recovery is possible and having the proper support from friends and family are by your can! `` the one with an eating disorder. ; recovery is possible having! Of eating disorders do n't talk to `` the one with the support of family and friends, of. Are difficult to find online as to what can trigger someone with an disorder... Same fears, the same fears, the same fears, the eating disorder and little talents like good... You do n't mistake not showering, not brushing teeth or hair, or the disordered thoughts need...

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