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How to Support a Loved One with an Eating Disorder: Dos and Don’ts

November 28, 2023

How to Support a Loved One with an Eating disorder: Dos and Don'ts

Supporting a loved one with an eating disorder can be a challenging and confusing journey, particularly as each individual experiences their eating disorder differently. You may feel unsure of what to do, especially as we all strive to be there for those we cherish most. Here are some dos and don’ts to help you navigate through what can be a daunting time.

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Do: Talk to the person, ask questions and listen without judgment

Creating a safe and genuine space for your loved one to comfortably discuss their experiences can make a huge impact. By being present and listening without judgment, you empower them to be more honest and authentic in sharing their journey, which provides an opportunity for you to offer support. The most valuable action you can take is simply to be there for them. Individuals with eating disorders often feel misunderstood, and, although you may not fully grasp their struggles, self-image or dietary choices and restrictions, it’s essential to let them tell their story in their own words.

Don’t: Comment on their physical appearance  

Commenting on physical appearance can trigger various emotions for individuals with eating disorders. Remember that you don’t know what’s going on in someone else’s mind, and your words can be more impactful than you may recognize. Make it a priority to refrain from any comments, even if your intent is to provide a compliment, and remove diet culture-related words from your vocabulary. Invest time in educating yourself about the harm associated with specific word choices and their potential impact on those with eating disorders.

Do: Focus on the wins, even when they’re small

It’s essential to emphasize and practice positivity during triumphs. The journey to recovery for individuals with an eating disorder is unique for each circumstance, and struggles look different to each person. Understand that every step in the right direction, regardless of its size, deserves to be celebrated. Whether it’s something as seemingly small as adding an extra snack during the day or as significant as finishing a meal while dining out, make sure not to overlook these achievements. Additionally, it’s important to acknowledge that the recovery process is often nonlinear. Remind yourself that even though you may be celebrating victories, setbacks can still happen, and it’s crucial to provide unconditional support during both the ups and downs.

Don’t: Overlook your needs

When you’re deeply focused on supporting a loved one during a struggle with an eating disorder, it’s common to neglect your own needs. You might experience guilt for putting yourself first or feel that you have insufficient time to balance everything. But, unless you prioritize your own needs, the support you offer to others will suffer. Take the time and space to normalize your need for needs. Write these down and give yourself the space to process them.

Do: Seek professional help

Keep in mind that you don’t have to face this journey on your own. Seeking professional assistance ensures that your loved one will receive the care they need. Many individuals living with eating disorders strive for perfection, battle feelings of not being enough and struggle with self-acceptance. Therapy offers a wealth of benefits to clients and helps them in creating the confidence necessary for a fulfilling life. Therapists specialize in tailoring their therapeutic approaches to each individual, moving clients toward developing a more positive self-perception.

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Our therapists understand that SERVICE RELATED TO ARTICLE HERE, there can be a variety of different needs that arise. Apart from helping you navigate SERVIE HERE LINKED, our therapists also offer a variety of services to cater to your individual needs. The therapy services we offer are Anxiety Treatment, Therapy for Depression, Stress Management, and Therapy for Women. As well as Therapy for Self-Esteem, support for, body image therapy, and so much more. Do you feel like you’re not living the life you want and need to make changes? Let’s talk about it.

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