How To Support Someone with an Eating Disorder.


Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses and can be challenging to cope with for the people close to someone with an eating disorder. 

Here are some things you can do to help support someone with an eating disorder: 

  • Expand your knowledge of eating disorders: 

Taking the time to understand eating disorders to some degree will allow the person you want to help to feel more comfortable talking to you about their problems. They will be able to see that you have some level of understanding of what they’re going through. 

  • Encourage open communication: 

By communicating your thoughts and feelings honestly, you are encouraging them to do the same. Try to avoid bringing up sensitive issues during meal times as these times are likely to already be quite distressing. Also, keep the focus of conversation around the person’s feelings and how you can help them and away from eating behaviours, weight or appearance as this can also be quite distressing and can lead to conflict. 

  • Help build their self-esteem:

Eating disorders can magnify feelings of low self-esteem. Remind them of their value to you as a friend and some of their achievements when they’re feeling low. Ensure you support them in times of struggle and congratulate/praise them then they have done well. People with eating disorders tend to be very self-critical and struggle to accept help due to lack of self-worth, so try to support them through overcoming these beliefs.

  • Patience:

Recovery takes time and progress can be slow, but each step should be acknowledged, and small victories should be celebrated. Setbacks are a part of recovery and you should try to accept this as soon as possible to avoid feelings of disappointment or frustration later on. 

  • Listen and refrain from giving advice or passing judgement:

You don’t need to have all the answers. Just asking how they are and listening can sometimes be enough. Try not to interrupt them or tell them what they should do. This could lead to arguments and further withdrawal if they feel you don’t value their perspective. Avoid saying things such as “just eat”, or anything related to their weight or appearance! Don’t make comparisons between yourself and them as this can trigger some people. Keep in mind that they are trying to accept their body the way it is. 

  • Keep them involved: 

Mental illness can lead to isolation so remember to invite them out! If they say no, respect their decision – but ask again when you next have something planned. Try to encourage them to stay in contact with their friends and family and keep in contact yourself. This may mean you need to put in extra effort at times.

  • Set yourself boundaries:

Make sure to set boundaries for yourself. This means getting help for yourself when you feel the person’s behaviour is either getting too challenging or it’s damaging your own ability to cope. Talk to the people around you that you trust, make sure to create your own support network. 

Sending love to everyone that needs it.


Let's Get Started

counterpoisewellness BOOK YOUR SESSION GET MATCHED
Copyright ©2023 Counterpoise Wellness.

Join Our Mailing List