When a Loved One Has Anorexia: 5 Ways To Offer Support
Anorexia and other eating disorders are serious conditions that need professional treatment. They are not simply a bad relationship with food, but rather involve issues of control, self-image and shame. They may also be linked to other emotional disorders. If you have a loved one dealing with an eating disorder, there are steps you can take to offer support and help them overcome their disease.
Start by learning everything you can about eating disorders. Learn about what contributes to them, as well as what signs to look out for. Seek out reliable information from reputable sources. Read books and scholarly articles, join a support group, talk to doctors and visit websites for organizations like the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). In addition to learning about the disorder itself, seek information about how to best support your loved one through their journey.
Encourage Healthy Habits
Anorexia is not all about food or maintaining a certain weight, but helping your loved one develop healthy eating habits will be an important part of their recovery. After all, the relationship they have developed with food is not about nourishment or satisfaction, but rather one of deprivation and shame. Nutritional counseling will help them uncover the importance of meal planning and can increase the nutrition they are able to get from whole food sources.
Of course, changes will not happen overnight. Find ways to encourage a healthy eating program and support a thriving gut microbiome without appearing pushy or condescending. Offer supplements and nutritional support as needed to help them meet their needs. Use a prebiothrive coupon code to help keep costs down.
Be Open and Honest
If you suspect a loved one is dealing with anorexia or another eating disorder, you will need to approach the subject with them. You’ll want to use care and avoid creating a barrier to communication, though. That means being open and honest. Learn strategies for communication that can help you share your concerns.
Be sure to pick a time and place that is completely non-threatening to the person. This is not something to bring up over lunch at the local cafe. You want a quiet atmosphere where you won’t have to compete for attention. At the same time, you will want to minimize interruptions and distractions that could derail the conversation or give your friend an opportunity to change the subject prematurely.
When you talk about eating disorders in general, and your observations in particular, stick to “I” statements. Share what you have noticed and how it makes you feel. Always use facts instead of letting emotions run the conversation. Yes, you are concerned upset, worried and probably a whole other list of things, but you need to stick to concrete facts. Let them know you truly care, and that you want to help however you can. Try to avoid resorting to generalizations or rumors. That can quickly set back any gains in trust or credibility you have made.
Perhaps most importantly, allow your loved one time to process what you are saying and respond. They need to be in charge of the recovery process. Remember, feelings of lack of control can contribute to eating disorders.
Avoid Overly Simplistic Solutions
Telling someone to simply eat more is not helpful. In fact, it can actually do more harm than good. Try to avoid offering overly simplistic solutions like these. If it was easy enough to overcome Anorexia by wanting to change, it wouldn’t be a growing problem in our society. It is an illness, just like a cold or virus. Except, unlike getting sick with the flu, symptoms are often hidden and stigma is attached to the disorder. That means people suffer in silence and isolation.
Stay Away From Shaming
Your loved one that is living with an eating disorder has enough shame. Don’t add to it. Avoid assigning blame to them, or yourself, at this time. Instead, look for ways to build self-esteem and confidence so they are better equipped for the long road to recovery.
The support you provide to someone with an eating disorder can make all the difference in the world. Be there, listen and try to understand where they are. Be ready to provide contact information for professional support when they are ready to take that next step.
Guest Writer Bio
Kevin Gardner graduated with a degree in psychology from UCLA. He owns his own private counseling business where he helps others cope with the problems of their lives. As busy as he is with his career, Kevin has made his family a priority and has found creative ways to give them the time they deserve. Whenever possible, he writes about his experiences and shares them to help others.