Wednesday, June 19, 2024

What To Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder

Don't Miss

If Youre Unhappy With Your Weight Just Diet And Lose It

Things Not To Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder

People with binge eating disorder or those with eating disorders in larger bodies will frequently hear diet-culture language like this, Neidich says. The reality is that diets do not work long-term for over 95% of individuals who lose weight and can contribute to the worsening or development of disordered eating. Telling someone with disordered eating that losing weight will cure their obsession with food and/or their bodies is not helpful at all and furthers the false notion that weight loss will fix the pain theyre in.

Healthy Now Newsletter

I Like Your Hair/bag/shoes/etc

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. However, giving a compliment about hair, shoes or maybe even their make-up can boost confidence and make the other feel better about themselves.

Compliments are difficult to receive due to this devil on your shoulder whispering in your ear that everyone is lying. 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. Avoid compliments about someone’s body, focus on other things.

What Not To Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder

You may have heard about eating disorders before, but what do you actually know about the disorders and what may not be appropriate to say to someone battling one? Here are the basics you need to know. Eating disorders are persistent eating behaviours that negatively impact health, emotions and a persons ability to function in many aspects of life. The most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating.

Most eating disorders have a focus on weight, body shape and food, leading to dangerous eating behaviours that can significantly impact ones ability to get appropriate nutrition. Eating disorders can harm the heart, digestive system, bones, and teeth and mouth, and lead to other diseases.

Research indicates that the prevalence rate of eating disorders is between 2% and 3%. Based on 2016 Statistics Canada population data, an estimated 725,800 and 1,088,700 Canadians will meet the diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder. Today, were looking at common phrases spoken to individuals with eating disorders and providing insight on what is and isnt appropriate.

Anything about appearance or weight

  • You would look/feel better if you lost/gained some weight.

This is not a helpful comment, it is an unnecessary judgement on someone elses appearance. Theres no need to make assumptions about their weight or health, so instead, focus on how they are feeling.

  • Just cut out .

Don’t Miss: Can You Go To The Er For A Panic Attack

Have You Seen Your Therapist Lately

When you ask me this, it throws me deep into my shame cycle and I believe that there is something wrong with me. That Im unfixable I need help Im too much for you. And Im unlovable I need professional help, and Im beyond help.

Better Question: I can tell that you are having a rough time right now, would you like to talk?

Can You Give Me Advice On How To Lose Weight


This question 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. This statement can also pull them back into a downward spiral with their illness 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.

Also Check: Dehydration Panic Attack

Choosing The Right Time And Place

  • 1Choose an environment that will make them feel comfortable. If you want to honestly help the person, you need to approach them at the right time in an appropriate setting. Pick somewhere private that they feel safe in so that they might be more willing to open up to you.XResearch source
  • Avoid bringing up the conversation in front of other people because it is personal and should be a treated as a private matter.
  • Try bringing it up when you are hanging out at their place just the two of you. They will comfortable and safe in their own home. And if the conversation goes poorly, you can leave and they are already home.
  • 2Let them initiate. Unless you are scared for their immediate safety, you should try to let the person initiate the conversation. If they bring it up or tell you about it, it usually means that they need help or a friend to talk to. Don’t bring it up often because they may not want to talk to you about it.
  • 3Dont force the conversation. Never force a person with an eating disorder to talk to you and tell you about everything they feel because talking about something like this can be very difficult. Let them tell you at their own pace and in their own time .
  • Sometimes they might explain their feelings in a lot of detail, but their words will be nowhere near how it really feels for them.
  • Do Not Tell Someone With An Eating Disorder What To Eat Or How Much To Eat

    Unless youre a licensed professional or have a relevant degree, please refrain.

    What may seem innocent and logical, like You just need to eat more OR telling them to eat a specific type of food may, in fact, not be what a professional would recommend.

    And, to someone with an ED, food can be terrifying. Your loved one or friend with an eating disorder cant just flip a switch and suddenly be okay with altering their food intake.

    Advising someone to just eat more or eat something theyre afraid to eat is a fast way to get shut out for not understanding or being too invasive. On the flip side, if they reluctantly comply, it could result in purging or over-exercising after eatingand major resentment.

    I hope you get the idea that what you might think is a simple solution is, in fact, a seemingly impossible task to someone with an eating disorder. While Im not saying they DONT need to eat more or change their eating habits, comments that fall into this category are far more likely to make things worse vs. better.

    Read Also: Can Anxiety Cause Low Blood Sugar

    Quotes About Eating Disorders

    1. Recovery from an eating disorder can take months, even years. Slips, backslides, and relapse tend to be the rule, rather than the exception. Re-learning normal eating habits and coping skills can take a long period of time and often requires lots of support from professionals, friends, and family. Moving forward is key, however slow it might be.National Eating Disorders Association

    2. I am forever engaged in a silent battle in my head over whether or not to lift the fork to my mouth. Jena Morrow

    3. I wish I could tell every young girl with an eating disorder, or who has harmed herself in any way, that shes worthy of life and that her life has meaning. You can overcome and get through anything.Demi Lovato

    4. If an individuals conversations appear to be hyper-fixated on losing weight, altering themselves, thinness, food, nutritional content, exercise regimens and other aspects of food and body, it is important to notice this, ask more questions, and gently challenge any dangerous beliefs.Eating Disorder Hope

    5. I am angry that I starved my brain and that I sat shivering in my bed at night instead of dancing or reading poetry or eating ice cream or kissing a boy. Laurie Halse Anderson

    Related: What Not to Say to Someone With an Eating Disorder

    6. Everyone kept asking me if I wanted to die. Well, no. No I didnt want to die. But no one ever asked me if I wanted to live. Brittany Burgunder

    Related: What is a Binge Eating Disorder?

    Healthy Now Newsletter

    How To Help Someone With An Eating Disorder

    5 Things NOT To Say To Someone With an Eating Disorder

    If a friend or relative has an eating disorder, such as anorexia,bulimia orbinge eating disorder, you will probably want to do everything you can to help them recover.

    You’re already doing a great job by finding out more about eating disorders and how to try to support them it shows you care and helps you understand how they might be feeling.

    Getting professional help from a doctor, practice nurse, or a school or college nurse will give your friend or relative the best chance of getting better. But this can be one of the most difficult steps for someone living with an eating disorder, so try to encourage them to seek help or offer to go along with them.

    You can support them in other ways, too:

    Read Also: Fear Of Long Word

    Im Going To Help You Just Do What I Tell You And Eat What I Tell You To And When I Tell You To And Itll Be Fine

    I know that you want to fix me because you love me. But it will make you crazy and it will make me feel like a failure and it will ruin our relationship. Im not going to be able to do what you tell me to do. See, I have to recover on my own by helping myself. Please dont try to fix me. It will break us both and we wont be able to survive it.

    Its not your job to fix me. Just love me and support me and be patient with me.

    Better Statement: Just keep going with your recovery- and let me know what you need. I can support you with love, patience, and kindness. If I have trouble with that, we can go see someone and talk it through.

    How To Know If A Loved One Has An Eating Disorder

    If there is a person about whom you are worried, the first step is that you are here and concerned about your friend’s thoughts or behaviors around eating. Sometimes it can be harder for a person with disordered eating to recognize the problem.

    At onset, an eating disorder can often resemble behaviors that our culture admires. Maybe your loved one has been dieting, but has become increasingly fixated and restrictive. Maybe theyre eating less and less when they are with youor you never see them eat at all. Or maybe they eat a lot, and then immediately excuse themselves after the meal and disappear without explanation and do not return for thirty minutes. Maybe their exercise habits seem excessive or dangerous, or they obsess to you about their weight.

    That’s why it’s so important to become better informed on the signs and symptoms of an eating disorder in a friend or loved one first.

    Also Check: What Does Phobic Mean

    What To Say To Someone Recovering From An Eating Disorder

    If someone you know or love is struggling or recovering from an eating disorder, it can be difficult to know what to say to them. You might feel like you are walking on pins and needles when talking with them, wondering if something you say might trigger them to relapse. Also, if you have never struggled with an eating disorder yourself, the feelings, emotions, and experiences related to an eating disorder may be foreign to you, and you might unknowingly strike a nerve with the person you are trying to love and support.

    Supporting family and friends through recovery of any kind is challenging, but can also be unexpectedly rewarding. Learning to successfully navigate these fragile relationships and conversations can make a profound impact on your loved ones recovery. Below are some suggestions on both topics to avoid, and ways to support someone with an eating disorder.

    What NOT to Say to Someone Recovering From an Eating Disorder

  • You are looking healthy and beautiful. Stay away from all conversations related to weight and physical appearance, even if your comment is positive. While your intention with this statement may be to offer support and recognition of a persons positive progress, healthy might be interpreted as fat by the person recovering from an eating disorder, which may set them back from any progress that have made.
  • What to Say to Someone with an Eating Disorder

    The Center A Place of Hope is an eating disorder treatment specialist.

    Why Dont You Just Eat

    Things Not To Say To Someone With An Eating Disorder

    Eating disorders are puzzling illnesses. They are also serious mental illnesses. The idea that someone would be unable to nourish their bodies with enough food seems illogical and beyond understanding for many people.

    It is confusing when your loved one won’t eat. It is tempting to say, Why dont you just eat? Many people with eating disorders are exceedingly intelligent and competent in all other areas of their lives, resulting in people thinking that a logical argument can “fix it.”

    However, there are complex biological, genetic, and socio-cultural issues at play that make the person unable to eat an appropriate amount. People with anorexia nervosa are terrified of eating. Asking them why they wont eat isnt helpful. It can also seem blaming and shame-inducing.

    Recommended Reading: Mdd Vs Bpd

    Have You Considered Going On A Diet

    Um when am I not on a diet? I shouldnt be dieting but Im terrified not to! It makes no sense. But thats all part of the disorder. Dieting always makes me act out but Im afraid if I dont diet, Im going to lose all control. Which I do anyway My mind is playing tricks on me and its a constant battle to figure out what the right thing to do is. Please dont give me advice, what I need is to learn to trust my inner guidance. And when you tell me to do something else, it makes me believe that my inner guidance is wrong.

    My inner guidance is where I will find my recovery.

    Telling me to diet makes me doubt myself and undoes all the work that Ive done.

    Better question: How else can I support your recovery?

    Worried About Someone Speak Out

    If you notice the warning signs of an eating disorder in a friend or family member, its important to speak up. You may be afraid that youre mistaken, or that youll say the wrong thing, or you might alienate the person. However, its important that you dont let these worries stop you from voicing your concerns.

    People with eating disorders are often afraid to ask for help. Some are struggling just as much as you are to find a way to start a conversation about their problem, while others have such low self-esteem they simply dont feel that they deserve any help. Whatever the case, eating disorders will only get worse without treatment, and the physical and emotional damage can be severe. The sooner you start to help, the better their chances of recovery. While you cant force someone with an eating disorder to get better, having supportive relationships is vital to their recovery. Your love and encouragement can make all the difference.

    You May Like: Schizophrenic Disorders Usually Emerge During

    Your Support Could Be Their Key To Recovery

    Knowing how to help someone with an eating disorder can be difficult, but its important to speak up if you recognize changes in someone you care about. Your support can be one of the most critical elements in helping your friend or loved one recover.

    Many times, people struggling with an eating disorder do their best to hide it. Eating disorders are known as a disease of disconnection and often cause those with anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating to isolate themselves to maintain their symptoms.

    Those struggling with an eating disorder may fear talking about it. They may not be ready to change, or perhaps the idea of life without an eating disorder seems foreign to them. But as someone who cares, your job is to encourage change to help them live a life not dictated by worries around weight, shape, and size. You have to help them be honest without judging their struggles.

    It may be hard to understand why someone may engage in behaviors that put their life and health at risk. Its important to realize that someone struggling with an eating disorder isnt bad. They didnt choose to develop an eating disorder. Rather, they just got stuck, likely over time.

    Letting your loved one know you care and are willing to help them find a path to recovery can be life-changing and life-saving.

    Recovery from an eating disorder is possible. You can help.

    You Are More Than Your Weight/fitness Routine/the Food On Your Plate

    What NOT to Say to Someone With an EATING DISORDER

    Talk about her character, not her physical appearance. We so often resort to looksfrom body shape to hairstyles to clothingwhen starting a conversation with someone. Compliment your friend on her intelligence, her kindness, and her courage. She is already hyper-focused on her body, so even if you think telling her You look healthy! or You are beautiful! is helpful, keep the focus on her internal values instead. Remind her how brave she is for choosing recovery and healing.

    Read Also: Irrational Fear Of Bees

    First Steps Towards Support

    At first, you might just want to show the person you’re here for them and you support them.

    Try to be considerate of the following:

    • Let them know you are there. Make sure the person knows youre here to listen and can help them find support. This is one of the most important things you can do. Let them know they can talk to you when they’re ready.
    • Try not to get angry or frustrated. They might already feel guilty about how their behaviour is affecting you. Try to be as understanding and patient as you can.
    • Don’t make assumptions. Try not to interpret what their eating problem means without listening to them. This could add to their feelings of helplessness. It could also make them less able to share their difficult emotions and seek support.

    Avoiding common assumptions

    More articles

    Popular Articles